Hi Folks! I have a few more things to say before wrapping up this blog. I’ll do some gear reviews, I’ve got a couple of rants I’d like to rave on about, and a post of my future hiking plans. But tonight, I want to share some of my trail statistics.
I finally sat down and made a spreadsheet of each day, where I started, where I finished, how far that was, etc. It was surprisingly hard, which made it kind of fun because I had to do a full on research project about my hike. I used my journal (which was wonderfully complete in sections and totally absent in others), this blog (which sometimes mentioned how far I had to walk, etc.), Halfmile’s App (to look up mileages for places), and my poor memory. Some places I just had to guess, like the fire closure before Idylwild. But I think it’s as close as I can get it. So, here we go:
Total PCT Miles Hiked = 1160.13
Days With At Least One PCT Mile = 74
Average PCT Miles Per Day While on Trail = 15.68
Biggest PCT Miles In One Day = 24.35
Fewest PCT Miles In One Day = 5.05 (last day)
Combing through my records I couldn’t help but notice some serious trail miles that were not on the PCT. Hiking out over Kearsarge Pass (7.5 miles) comes to mind. For instance, if you add the 7.5 from Kearsarge to the 21 miles I hiked (over Forester Pass) to get there, that was longest trail day: 28.5 miles. Hiking back in over Kearsarge plus 17 miles to get to Rae Lakes would be my second longest day (24.5 miles), which is pretty amazing considering how heavy my pack was that day with full resupply, bear canister, and snow gear. If you add up the side-trails and the miles I walked while lost, I walked 1224.23 miles and my average goes up to 16.54 miles per day.
Of course, it was a longer trip than that:
Days Away From Home = 118
Days Convalescing at Kathy’s House = 23
Zeros = 19
Neros = 3
And I suppose what follows are best described as Fun Facts!
Nights Sleeping Outside = 65
In a Tent = 3
Cowboy = 45
Tarp Tent/Rainfly = 17
Nights with no shelter at all = 2 (Garbage Bags = 1, counts as shelter/cowboy!)
Nights in a Hotel = 26
And this post is kind of dry, so I’ll throw in a Fun Fact and a bit of a rant. Fun Fact: I only filtered water twice! I pretty much, no I did, just drink the water right off the face of the Earth the way God intended. The first time I filtered (Sunrise Trailhead) I probably didn’t need to, the second time (Rodriguez Tank) I was glad I had a filter. I also filtered a third time (although my filter may have frozen up on Fuller Ridge, so it may have been compromised) at the Kern River, but by that point I had my system down for filling my “drinking bottle” from my “storage bottles” without even stopping walking. I only filtered two liters at the source before I hit the trail, but drank about two more liters before I remembered that I needed to stop and filter that stuff. Oops. Oh well. In any case, I didn’t get sick. I had some mild diarrhea a few times, but it was always in town.
So here’s the rant: What is with people who filter EVERYTHING? Honestly, take spring water, bottle it “at the source”, and people will pay top dollar for it. Take those people to a natural spring out in the woods, and they won’t drink it without filtering it first. Whatever. HYOH. Personally, I don’t want to take the time and effort to filter some of the purist water you can get. Springs are excellent to drink, in my opinion, and I always preferred them to other sources, when available.
OK, rant off, but I have some other advice. I DO NOT recommend that you head out to hike the PCT without a water filter or other water treatment system, I’m just saying that I did it. Thankfully, my Dad and Cousin didn’t get sick when they hiked with me and imitated my no-filter style! That would have been bad. I have been drinking water “off the face of the Earth” for many years and I may have built up “immunities”. Heck, I might even be a carrier of Giardia, for all I know. Some people live where it is endemic, and still live there relatively unaffected, right? I even got Giardia once when I went to Leningrad where it was discovered.
I don’t want to encourage you not to treat your water, so I won’t link the professional science research papers that convinced me it might be an OK thing to do. The Punch Line from one of the studies was your best chance to get Giardia is to drink downstream of humans. If there’s humans camped upstream, you probably need to filter. The second bad thing, was a bunch of cattle upstream. But it got to be a LOT of cows, not just one or two. Similarly, places with just regular amounts of wildlife (deer, bear, elk, etc.) don’t seem to have elevated levels of Giardia.
So basically, the closer you can get to the source, the better. Think about it. Pure water rains down from the sky. It’s fine to drink until it gets contaminated by something, so right there, being high in the mountains is a big advantage. Let’s just say I’d much rather drink from a small tributary than the main stream/river it feeds.
I know many people have been taken out by Giardia or other intestinal distress. Honestly, most people who get sick in the woods brought it with them, and then blame it on the water. The more social you are, the more you share food, the more at risk you are. Which may be why with my solo/hermit style I didn’t get sick in the woods, and only got sick when I came into contact with more people in town.
Again, I am not saying don’t treat your water. I’m just saying that I didn’t, and I was fine. I guess I am saying, if you see a natural spring pouring out of the ground RIGHT THERE, don’t be shy. That’s good stuff, just the way it is!
Post Everything Edit: I saw a presentation at my Forest Service job last week from a law enforcement guy that was talking about all the illegal marijuana farming going on. Some of the big grows are by Mexican Cartels that use poisons that are banned in the USA. Pretty toxic stuff. One eighth of a teaspoon can kill a 1000-pound animal. It gets into the water, and it can’t be filtered or boiled away.
On one hand, this makes me a lot more reluctant to “drink water off the face of the earth”. On the other hand, if you can’t filter it or boil it, what then? You have to have water. Again, go for the springs and the high sources. Hopefully, legalizing pot will bring the growers out of the mountains and down into the Central Valley where they won’t kill the local wildlife and everything downstream.