Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Postage and Rambling

I finished packing my food packages for the Arizona Trail. All I need to do now is ship them. I made some slight variations in my itinerary. My 4 food drops are thus: at the Oracle P.O., at the Roosevelt Lake Marina Visitor's Center, in Pine at That Brewery and Pub, and finally at the Tusayan General Store near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

I have had some great correspondence with Swami lately. He has definitely helped me through the private land issues by spurring along some deep ponderences. It seems silly to me to deprive others from seeing the wonders of nature. To me, land is free and instills an overwhelming sense of freedom. I almost feel to take that away from me is a blatant deprivation. I feel this way especially since most of the landowners in the Culebra Range open their gates to wealthy hunters for an astronomical sum to take aim at a massive, trophy elk. Do they care for the land to earn money? Or do they really consider the land their home? Well, I mean, does all that land make their home or do they find economical ways to use that land? They say having others trespass on their land would only disturb the wildlife, hence disturb their pocket book. Is it there right to claim wildlife on their property as wild, as well? I care for the land, am a steward of the land, because I do not 'own' any of it. It is all ours to be passed down and shared, so it must be cared for, not exploited.

I think of human and animal migrations. Home is where the seasons see fit. I know times have changed but to deny passage over pristine peaks is like cutting off one's instincts to migrate, or to spiritually practice. I am very in touch with my instincts, unlike the millions who live in cemented cages in large cities, horded up in convenient, comfortable, homes to make life easier; well, at least, my instincts are not benumbed. To me, the answers of life are outside, along with the seasons and wildlife, feeling the skin prickle of survival/living.

I have heard in some parts of Europe there is a 'rights-of-way' passage act. You may pass through private land in a respectful manner. Large swaths of private land are not totally off limits to wayfarers. In the western U.S., I hear the cattle ranchers concerns about disturbing the cattle. The hikers, bikers, etc. get to close to cattle, they say. Their habits are disrupted and they will not frequent watering holes any longer, they grunt. Are they not disturbed by the ATVs or the cowboys herding them in an enclosed area? Are they not disturbed by the human arm inseminating them all the way up their terd-hole? Plus, the ranchers know what the cattle want because it is in the purpose of what the ranchers want out of the cattle. (Seems like the elk in the Culebra Range are in a similar position.) My point is there are many types of disturbances, and yes, a lousy, mis-behaved, irresponsible hiker may contribute to these disturbances. I get that, but there are a lot of hikers who are stewards of the land. They treat the wilderness and the outdoors like most would treat their hallways of church. They will not desecrate it, only worship it.

And I know there are steward ranchers that treat the land with respect and share what the land may reap. But there are also some putzes...

I remember when I first moved to Montana. I recall after many months finally acquiring knowledge of the land issues around the state. Wolves were of a main concern and threatened the livestock of many ranches. I saw a news broadcast reporting on the rise of wolf attacks between Billings and Livingston. Many of the large ranches between the 2 towns had been there for about a 100 years. Old ranches passed down along the family line, traditions and rites as well. They interviewed a Rolf Rolfson. I distinctly remember the name, it was hard not to. He stuttered on camera pleading his case for the riddance of wolves. He said he could not understand why wolves would be in that type of terrain of rolling grasslands. I guess he thought they should be way up yonder in the high mountains. He said that the wolves did not belong there, that they were intruders. However, since re-introduction of the wolf, their populations has exploded, almost back to respectable levels before they were eradicated as vermin of the West in the late 1800s and early 1900s. So, with their population going up they were moving instinctly back to lands they roved and hunted. They migrated with the seasons. The barbed wire signifying property boundaries meant nothing to them.

That's why Rolf, that's why they were back there. It had been there home before, and through the lineage of instincts and DNA, just like things passed down through humans, folklore and all, the wolves went back home. And when they filled their belly they rambled away to another home, following food and the seasons, the natural way of things...

Another similar story is the Blackfeet near Glacier National Park. Every year the Blackfeet dismantle the barbed wire fence, many times, keeping them out of their native grazing grounds. And mulitple times out of the year the National Park Service re-contructs the fence. Over and over, this futile process occurs. The Blackfeet are adamant, and I would be too if my home had been taken away and my people placed in the wastelands of a new nation.

'The land of many uses' maybe should read 'the land of many homes.'

I know at some point this summer I will face a barbed wire fence and I will have to make a decision. I do not own any land but I feel I have many 'homes' because of the land. I know my instincts will help me in making the right choice.

Also, I believe in hunting---but for sustenance and not for a trophied expense to hang on your mantle. Hunt to live, to provide. Own land to live and share, not provide a refuge for rich people to kill.

I am a very self-centered individual and I really have no point or cause in crossing their land, especially for their own benefit. I only aim to go home...in the mountains.

I'll leave you with this quote from Einstein:

"The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone, is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been."

Leave the herds for the cows...and cities.

Friday, March 22, 2013

VL Updates

I have determined my start date for the Vagabond Loop to be April 4th. Sweaty-Z and I, along with Lint, will leave Glenwood Springs on April 2nd and make our way to the Coronado National Monument marking the southern terminus of the AZT.

Yea, that’s right, I said Lint!

Lint has decided to join me for the AZT portion of the AZT, then swoop on over to the PCT after his romp in Arizona with me. Back at it, NERDS in action, mashin’ trail together again!

I am geeked out of my head right now. I want to leave it all behind and go farther away. I have been planning and dreaming and visualizing this VL for months now. I’ve worked extremely hard at CME to fund the adventure and I cannot wait to be a filthy little dirtmonger again. I cannot wait to shit where I want, not shower nor shave/trim; I cannot wait to see the sidelong, suspicious glances of town folk. I cannot wait to not be around fur coats and the snobby rich of Aspen. I yearn to be doused in dirt, re-baptized in the in the simplistic filth, roving overland and baying at the moon. Fuck, I cannot wait to be that dirt-warrior again, to feel the pain, to feel the freedom, to eschew time, to thirst, starve, and then dig deep and push, mash. I cannot wait to endure…

Route planning is venturing along, sometimes at a snail’s pace. The section between the Sangres in CO and Red River in NM, you know, the private land owned by mega-ranches, has hit a stalling point. I’ve been refused entry. But I did have good relations with an ol’ timer down in La Veta who works for the USFS. Maybe I’ll drop by and see him when I am down there…

I am a bit deterred but not thwarted from thinking I can bridge the gap. Something will turn out, just gotta keep it moving forward.

On the other hand, I have had great relations with the San Juan Hut Systems group based out of Ridgway, CO. I will be using there route from Moab to Durango following a series of backcountry huts through isolated and faraway terrain. Joe with SJHS has been an awesome trail-dog to chat with. He knows his stuff and the SJHS runs a kick-ass operation. He has been extremely helpful and will pass along routes and maps as they become available. I think this’ll develop into a very good relationship. He offered placing a re-supply box for me at one of the huts that is roughly the halfway point between the 2 towns.

Shit, he even offered up the food stashed in the huts, for a nominal fee, of course. The huts have water too!! And, they have a wood deck if I am so inclined to whip out the sleeping pad and crash under a secure surface. Backcountry travel at its finest, even for a dirt monger like myself. It’ll be nice to be pampered after being hammered by the Hayduke Trail!

Since I will be in the area as they are starting their mountain bike tours I am sure we will meet up at some point. Trail magic already!!!!

I have bought all my food for the AZT and will be mailing them out next week. My gear is all set, as well.

A trail buddy of mine from the PCT, Rainer, is out hiking the AZT right now and sending me water updates. Valuable information on a tough-ass trail. Check out his blog: http://longwalksanddirtysocks.wordpress.com/

A fellow driver at CME told me he is working in Anchorage, AK this summer. He told me the drive would take about a week and would be roughly 3,500m from Denver to there. I was like, 'OH SHIT!!' That's what I am going to be walking, numbers-wise! A great introperspective on the burtality I will be putting myself through...

I am, I'm sure, not the first one to concieve of hiking the four trails intertwined in the VL. But I may be the first to do all four in one season. Plenty of people have hiked the CT, a bunch fewer on the AZT, even way less on the GET, and a smidge lower than the GET is the HT. I know Swami did 3 last year, and a handful have completed 2 of them. All in, I say, all in...

Quote of the day: 'Stay hungry. Stay foolish.'

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I am: Stoveless

I am stoveless. I have been that way for all my thru-hikes. I hike differently than most and go farther than most, so finding ways to enhance my performance and sate my motor-driven mind is very important. Stoveless fits my hiking style: light, fast and efficient. Since I am not motivated by lavish meals on trail, going stoveless enables me to treat food as fuel to sustain the machine to the next town stop. I don’t like to spend time in camp cooking dinner. I spend most of my time hiking solo and I feel spending time in camp cooking dinner is more of a social bent. I need to use my time efficiently.

I use the craving for ’better’ food towards the end of a section to drive me forward to my next stop. Of course I love food, but while on trail I need that food to be purposeful. But that does not mean I will eat that monkish while in town. As stated in a previous paragraph, I am working on controlling the binges with proper food intake while in town. On trail, I want my meals to be healthy and simple. What that means to me is getting proper nutrition with dehydrated and compact foods (light) for the activity I do (speed hiking) and having the means to prepare the meal in little time (fast and stoveless).

I have my system and preparation down pat. For breakfast or lunch I will whip something that is instant, like a veggie-protein shake, mashed potatoes, dehydrated peanut butter or oatmeal. I supplement the time between those two meals with energy bars, such as ClifBars, Lara Bars, and the like. For lunch, I will have some type of salty snack to go with the mashed potatoes, like Fritos or Wheat Thins. Between lunch and dinner, I will consume more energy bars and some more of the salty snack. Around 530pm each day I will then soak my dehydrated dinner: a plenitude of mixtures that may include refried beans, mixed veggies, bell peppers, peas, TVP, kale powder, tomato powder, and mashed potatoes. The mixtures are soaked with water in a 16oz. plastic container with a twist cap to prevent leakage and stowed in my outer mesh pouch on the Kumo Superlight. I keep the mixture stowed there for about an hour and let sunrays heat the mixture up to an ambient temperature. Stoveless is essentially going ‘cold,’ however, almost every meal I make on trail for dinner is not. Cold in this instance implies no flame to heat my food.

Most food most hikers cook are in dehydrated form. I found that I didn’t mind eating something at room temperature, a left over burrito or a slice of pizza left in a box on a kitchen counter top. I applied that comfort level to the trail. I basically use the same product as most hikers except I leave out food items that would take longer to prepare such as rice and pasta noodles. I can get my carbs from either tortillas or flat breads. Since, I eat dinner around 630pm every night and use the meal for energy to hike another 2-3hrs, I found if I ate too many carbs I would bonk during that timeframe. So my last meal of the day is loaded with protein and fat. I try to have my morning and lunch meals carb-loaded as I expend more calories during those times of vigorous hiking. So, I even have a method of what to eat at specific times of the day to proficiently use the nutrients I intake.

And you know what? The dehydrated form of the food I eat saves weight. My food is condensed to have more calories per ounce. I also strive to have healthy food that have useful calories instead of empty calories. So, I do look at what I am eating and the weight of what I am eating. The powdered stuff I re-package for the section I am hiking, pretty controlled and straight forward there. However, for energy bars I look at the weight of the bar (ClifBar weighs 2.4oz.) and how many calories (ClifBar has 240cal), then deduce how many calories per ounce to then achieve the lowest, most efficient weight of bars to carry. As I say this, I am still able to carry about 2lbs of food per day and consume roughly 5,000 calories per day. My goal in conserving weight with food is not to forsake the nutritional value of food. I want more bang for the buck/ounce, basically.

Yea, yea, yea, some may say: How can you eat those things over and over again? Remember, I am not motivated by taste, per se, while on trail. I am motivated by proper fuel to sustain the machine to efficiently get into town healthily. So, it can proverbially ‘taste like shit’ but if it’s going to help me perform at high levels then I’ll do it. Well, at least it has to be food nutrition and not any other fake supplements. But last year, hiking with Lint broadened my taste spectrum with different, healthy ingredients. So, now I have more of a variety of dehydrated foods, all of which you can find online, and I know of more options of energy bars. I tend to get bogged down with tunnel vision or an intense focus and Lint shattered the steady glare with variety. I had started the CDT with more variety in flavors of ClifBars but my other meals were still bland, to say the least. I helped him in transitioning from a Bush Buddy stove system to going stove less, and he helped me with taste variety. After meeting Lint and applying our strategies together I now have a more flavorful and healthier diet of dehydrated meals. Sometimes, I do not even realize I am not cooking my food because the meals taste so good.

To me stoves and fuel are just pointless weight. They take up space and time with bulk and maintenance. Here are some other advantages:

*If I am going to carry any extra liquid weight it is going to be of the sort I can hydrate my body with. Liquid weight, as in fuel, can be cumbersome. If I am in especially arid conditions I want more capacity and space to carry water rather than fuel.

*My plastic 16oz. bowl is rinsed out with water daily and roughly shaken to shed water to clean. Quick and easy. And no mess!

*I save money because I do not have to buy fuel and name brand dehydrated food packages, like Knorr. I buy in bulk, then re-package. I use about 2 plastic bowls per trail.

*The actual time I use to cook my food is literally around 2 minutes or a tad less.

*Being stoveless is better on the environment and follows a strict Leave No Trace ethic. I do not start any fires, unless in an emergency, so scarring the land is extremely minimal. I release nothing in the air, save for the rear-end gas.

*Because I release minimal aromas, being stoveless is safer in bear country. Cooking food with flame releases scents from food and disperses the scents around the area. Bears have notoriously the best sense of smell around but they will have to be very close by to smell my food if I am eating it. Plus, when I am hiking and soaking my food the scent is dispersed in minimal, non-attractive concentrations.

I guess you can say stoveless is a form of ‘fast food.’ The difference between what the normal humans consider fast food and my method is mine is healthier and provides my machine with proper nutrition and energy. I cannot say exactly how much weight I save, however, I can estimate with an educated guess that I save about 4lbs on a typical section of trail, say 4 days and 125m, with reliable water resources, and with a typical backpack weight consisting of warm weather gear. This estimated 4lbs is a considerable sum. My pack without food and water is roughly 7lbs, with food and water I average roughly 20lbs in total of which water weight is 2L worth or 4lbs. If I am in extreme dry areas my pack would weigh close to 30lbs in total. Now add the extra 4lbs from stove and gas, then I would need to add more for the new backpack I would need, and I would be pushing 40lbs! With that much weight on your back it is really hard to do 35m, period

Lifestyle Changes for the VL

On trail, I think of food as fuel to feed the machine. With my experiences and growth in knowledge of food and nutrition in accordance with my ‘machine’ I have tried to improve my diet to improve performance each year. This year on the VL is no different, and I feel I have made some advancements in my diet on trail through off trail lifestyle changes this winter.

One of my goals this winter was to experiment with vegetarianism, in believing that nutrition is the utmost method of powering, increasing recovery time, and providing your body with endurance. I wanted to see how my body would digest food without having meat to ‘work’ on. I purposely have fed myself more vegetables and found other ways of getting protein and fat. Last year on the CDT, I found out I am lactose intolerant. This was a big catalyst to start looking for other means of protein. I, then, found vegetable based protein, TVP and powder-based smoothie mixes, which I will implement into my diet on the VL this summer. The results of this experiment has shown my body to lack in general soreness despite running close to 14 miles per day in some weeks. I believe because I am giving my body the right food/fuel my body is using the energy appropriately and efficiently. Also, my digestion has maintained a fluid efficacy (pardon the pun). Before with meat in my body, I noticed sluggish mornings and a feeling of fullness. This winter’s smooth digestion has been the opposite of sluggish. Overall, I have noticed a positive and tremendous mental and physical effect by going vegetarian.

One concern I have while on trail is binging on unhealthy food while on my in-town stops. Previously on other long distance hikes, I would fuel my body with enough energy while on trail to sustain performance until I got to a town for re-supply. Once in town, I would gorge, eating anything and everything, sometimes eating meals tallying 6,000 calories! Addictive personality, I should think so! However, what I have noticed was that after I left town and embarked on a next section of trail I felt extremely lethargic. I believe that that sluggishness is from not eating the right types of food. When I enter a town my body signals my brain exactly what type of nutrient I need: fat, protein, or carbs. It sounds crazy, but while thru-hiking you become so in tune with your body and surroundings you know exactly what your body needs. My body, nerves, or total oneness, communicate in synchronicity. So, when I hit a town and my body is screaming FAT!!!! I will find the most densely fat source I can scrounge up. I then enter a food coma from hyperphagia. I usually left town walking slowly and gazing at the surroundings in a torpid state. I essentially became disconnected from the environment and self, which in turn can put me in grave danger while on trail. This pattern was frequently repeated and I did not like it. I loved the gorging part but the hangover from the unhealthy food made me feel like shit. My point: rather than just answering the urge of FAT!!!! with unhealthy food with a whimsical choice, I now must be conscious and disciplined in choosing the right types of food to eat when I am in my hyperphagic state.

So, one way to mitigate these pointless urges was to quit drinking alcohol. Basically, I did it to show myself I can quell urges I have within me, whether emotional or addictive, by making sensible choices based on needs rather than wants.

I have broken the meatless diet in the past month, but nothing too indulgent. I wanted to re-introduce meat back into my diet slowly, because I now while I am on the VL, managing emotional and mental stress is of utmost concern. So, the occasional reward with food items I like, like a cheeseburger, will provide me with comfort when I may need to be comforted. Make sense?

I have not broken my alcohol-less diet. We will see… however, I like being sober, especially knowing how good my body and mind feel. The VL is a super-strenuous adventure and I need to be on point. I am in a point in my life doing very challenging things and I need my body to be in the best shape possible. I have to find ways to keep the machine efficient and healthy. From the meatless diet and alcohol-free lifestyle I have maintained a steady lean weight of 190lbs, which is my average thru-hiking weight, where generally in the off-season my weight hovers between 195-200lbs. This too will be an advantage when I start the VL. I will be light and ready to go mashing!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Gear Details and Support

For the Vagabond Loop I have the opportunity to be represent 3 gear sponsors: Gossamer Gear, YAMA Mountain Gear, and Vasque. I have refined my gear through these sponsors and Lint, my hiking partner from last year on the CDT, to lower my base weight from about 9lbs to 7lbs. My goal was not to just have the lowest weight possible, rather my goal was to refine my gear with the materials, gear, and product best suited to my hiking style, experience, and comfortability.

Before obtaining the backing of sponsors I spoke countless of hours with Lint on the CDT about ultralite backpacking, gear, and hiking style. We complimented each other with our styles and pace as well as the urge to constantly get better. Some upgrades I made to my gear through conversations with Lint are thus:

*Headlamp to light-weight mini lamp. They both share roughly the same wattage and brightness yet the mini lamp is an ounce lighter and way more compact. One lithium battery will last a long time on trail as per usage I may employ.

*2 Black Diamond Trekking Poles to 1 Gossamer Gear LT4 Trekking Pole. The weight I shave is significant, almost 3/4lbs. I haven’t obtained the GG LT4 yet as I am waiting for inventory to bulk up. Also, Lint was helpful in swaying me to disencumber myself of 2 poles. I finished the CDT not using my poles and the bursitis in my heel subsided considerably. But, since I am not completely confident in how my heel will be once on the AZT I will start with 1 pole. I can either add or rid a pole as the trail goes.

*Larger liquid and powder containers to smaller BPL droppers. I started this trend last year while on trail pre-Lint. For some reason, I still had the mind state of carrying something with extra surplus, like water purification and toothpaste. It was as if I was afraid I was going to run out even though I had way more than enough. Once with Lint, I narrowed my inventory to pure basic needs for a very specific timeframe. If I needed more of something I would ship it via postage. And I will start out with that this year: smaller containers with adequate inventory for a specific timeframe. And I will package extra quantities in my re-supply packages for the VL.

*Synthetic vest to a Montbell UL Down Jacket. One of my favorite upgrades! This eliminates my need for a long-sleeve shirt, which adds more weight in concurrence with the vest, short-sleeve, and rain coat. The UL keeps me warmer when I truly need it, as well as doubles as extra warmth for my sleep system. I now use only a short sleeve, a Montbell Dynamo Wind Park (which doubles as a long-sleeve for warmth and minor rain protection. I forsake a true raincoat based off the type of environs I will trekking through and because of the short, heavy downpours. For those reasons I believe I won‘t be as wet as long and the dry, heat of the areas will help in drying.), and the UL. I save roughly 1/2lbs and I get way better product.

*Lastly, GoLite Jam to GG Kumo Superlight. They are roughly the same pack with similar storage volume but the Kumo saves me about 10oz. I only had minor beef with the Jam as it was a reliable backpack. However, the Kumo has some characteristics that are more advantageous to my style of hiking, in particular an outer mesh pocket (better for soaking my food), more conforming and comfortable straps, and the obvious lighter weight with more durable material. See the GG Buzz here on the Kumo while hiking the Kokpelli Trail.

I decided while hiking the CDT to change my shelter as well. The GoLite Shangri-La 1 is a good product and served me well but I wanted I more minimal and lighter shelter. To achieve that I will need a different material from silnylon, in particular cuben fiber or spinnaker. With that in mind, I had to consider cost. The latter 2 materials are pricey though top of the line. Enter YAMA Mountain Gear. I met Gen, the owner and seamster of YAMA, on the CDT except rather than walking he was riding an unicycle north from Canada towards Mexico. He makes superior product while maintaining a small, U.S.A, hand-stitched business. Of course, I would rep his product. But because YAMA is a start-up, the cuben fiber Cirriform 1 tarp is not available. So, as of now, Gen and I have agreed on the Stratiform 1. I’ve yet to field test it because of my hectic schedule and planning but we will decide which shelter will be most useful and beneficial for me while on the VL. I am really excited to rep an ultralite weight company with a like-minded philosophy and thru-hiking spirit.

The same goes for GG. I stumbled upon their product on the PCT and for the CDT I swooped up the Thinlite Insulation Pad and Polycryo Ground Cloth. Last October, I traveled to Austin. Wouldn’t you know, Austin is where GG is based. Lint enlightened me of this fact and, next thing I knew, I was touring the house/facility. I walked away from there asking myself: ‘Did I just score a sponsor?’

I am a Trail Ambassador for GG.

Lastly, I contacted Vasque this past winter. I thanked them for a product I have been religiously using since the early 2000’s when I started ultra-mountain running. Brian Hall responded and we corresponded back and forth. I told him of the VL and he offered his support. I will be using a new model Vasque will be putting out this Spring. More to come on this.

But, another cool thing from the Vasque opportunity, is the chance to be used in an ad campaign for extreme day hiking. Do you think I fit the mold? I have interviewed with HensTooth Ad Agency and things are underway. More to come on this as well…

Other upgrades on gear:

*I will still be repping Trevor a.k.a. Lightning’s light-weight, hand-sewed beanie. I rocked it last year and it kicked some ass!

*Lastly, for my GoLite Adrenaline 3-season Quilt, it will be its third thru-hike. Because of its endurance it is most likely my favorite piece of gear. I have firm belief I can get 3,500m and 5 months out of the quilt. Less goose feathers than before but I know it can hack it!



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Re-supply strategy and Maps

My re-supply strategy has deviated from my previous 2 thru-hikes. On the PCT and CDT I used my mom’s home in the L.A. area as headquarters and storage. The past 2 Aprils I sorted food, labeled boxes, organized gear, placed maps in appropriate boxes, and organized everything so my mom could send gear and food out to me as needed in an efficient manner. This March will be the Aprils of time passed as I will not be going to L.A. and using my mom’s house as a base. My winter job commitment at CME ends in early April so I will start hiking the AZT portion of the VL. Without having that extra month off to finalize prep and planning I will have to do most of it while working in the winter. Because of the burden and workload of both the trail and other responsibilities I’ve had to change my re-supply strategy within the Vagabond Loop. So, my main goal with my altered re-supply strategy is to grant me more flexibility so I can adapt to what is happening in front of me as it is happening.

****Note: I will insert more pics of family and friends and re-supply stuff****
****I am a horrible person as I mainly have pics of mountains and beautiful scenery****
****But I love this one of me, my granny and granpy****

With that previous thought in mind, and considering the VL is essentially 4 thru-hikes, I have to plan for each one individually and then use the end points of each trail as times of re-grouping, mailing out food packages, gear swaps, and rest. Also, with 3,500m to hike in extremely rugged, arid and challenging terrain, I essentially have a time frame or in other words I have certain time frames to hike each trail within a suitable season to promote a better chance at completion. Hence the earlier start and a different re-supply strategy.

I preface this next paragraph with thoughts of contentment in this new strategy because, from my experience, my past thru-hiking itineraries and plans changed immediately once I started walking in real-time on trail. I will spend March sorting and re-packaging food in P.O. Flat Rate boxes with certain re-supply points along the AZT. I will keep the same premise of providing myself with food variety along the trail by having about half of my re-supply points at in-town markets and the other half by P.O. packages. One week before my departure, with the date to be exactly determined as March moves along, I will send the P.O. packages to their respective outposts. I will have the packages spaced out enough on the AZT to include maps for every 200 miles or so. Also, I will be using the AZT Pocket Maps, in which Brett Tucker has put his expertise touch on, that I‘ve had printed out professionally.

This March I will be organizing my gear, maps, and other necessities for the Hayduke Trail in bigger boxes/bins so my buddy, Sweaty Z, can take to L.A. and drop off at my mom‘s. With the prep for the AZT done, all I got to do now is trek. And because I’ll have shipped along gear, maps and other items with Sweaty Z my mom and brother, Bert, will meet me at the western terminus of the HT with the provisions. I will spend a few days with them buying food, organizing and re-packaging food into boxes, placing maps (Andrew Skurka’s CD set) in appropriate boxes, and researching more about the new trail, especially water sources, I will be walking. Also, this will be a great time to re-connect with family after having not seeing them for some time. I plan on mailing food packages to almost every town stop on the HT as most towns are limited in market options. At the end of the HT is Moab where I have an intimate familiarity with the town. 

Moab is a perfect place to ship food packages from to potentially the one-stop option between Moab and Durango (the small town of Basin or the B&B of Bedrock) and the 2 drops I have for the Colorado Trail. Mostly along the CT I will be buying food in town at markets and such. I will not be using maps for the CT, though I will be using the CT Databook, as it is well marked and I have hiked most of the CT while on the CDT so I am very, very familiar with the route. The characteristics of the CT and the PCT are so similar in regards to being well-marked and knowledgeable to me that I will use a very similar navigating and re-supply strategy. Once I hit the eastern terminus of the CT near Denver I will then use this major city as of respite and healing, and food planning and shipping for my next VL segments.

The connection between Denver and Albuquerque is progressing along though I wouldn’t say nicely or horribly---I am treading water. From Denver to Salida, I will use NatGeo maps. In Salida, I will re-supply in town, then depart from the trail town and use a NatGeo map for the Sangre de Cristo traverse along the Rainbow Trail. The next gap is still a work in process, from the La Veta area to Red River. I will have to re-supply along this section at a P.O. as there is not much market options with the area being so remote. A food package will await me once I hit Red River which will enable me to get to Santa Fe. I will navigate Brett Tucker’s Northern New Mexico route through this area with NatGeo and Forest Service maps. As of now, I’d like to use Santa Fe as a re-supply/provision base for the GET. I’ve always enjoyed this city and it’ll be a good rest stop before my final leg of the VL.

The GET will be divvied up in half with food packages and in-town market stops. After Santa Fe, the VL will skirt high along the divide the large city of Albuquerque and end in the sprawled, large city of Phoenix. Thankfully, Brett Tucker has logged hundreds of hours mapping and planning the GET route to connect the gap between the 2 metropolises. I will have his maps professionally printed and sorted into appropriate food packages and about every 200m or so. The last half of the GET is mainly re-supplying in town so I will have the maps shipped to a couple of P.O’s.

After Santa Fe, the VL is all open spaces and all I got to do is stumble on in for the big finish. But before I wrap this entry up I have to briefly explain my Itinerary. I purposely left out ‘zero’ days on my hiking itinerary. I added rest days to my major re-supply stops and re-groupings like the ends of each trail. The reason I left off zero days was not to conform myself into being too rigid within a schedule. My personality will stay strict and driven if I had planned zero days. I tend to get bogged down in check-marks. So, I conservatively estimated mileage within sections and put my zeroes at the ends of the trails. Ultimately, I do not think it will change the timeframe I will trek the hike in. The more mileage I trek as the trail goes on then the more days I can afford off. However, I don’t want that confused with me striving to hike more mileage per day in order to feel rewarded with a day off. What I mean is that by not having days off scheduled it gives me the freedom and flexibility to take a day off as needed all the while feeling comfortable that as the trail goes along the better I’ll perform. For me, this is stress management which will alleviate my OCD quirks and lower my high expectations. Mainly, this strategy is building flexibility within my goals and will attain a balance in an extreme personality.