Day 129: bursting the bubble

Day 129
Miles: 22
From rock creek to campsite on a saddle

‘Twas the night before hiking
And all ’round the campsite,
It was all to my liking
All tucked in for the night –

When outside of my shelter,
I heard a great clatter!
Everything now helter-skelter
Lights and shouting, feet a patter!

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Still sewing…

My mom left  this morning, so I sat down at the sewing machine to wrap up a few loose ends. At 7 pm I was still there, trying to figure out what took me so long. I took a long lunch, but still!

I’ve been using Ray Jardine’s book (Trail Life) and kits as the backbone of my PCT planning. I’ve made his 1-person tarp, spitfire net-tent, quilt, bat-wing, and stowbags. Then J decided he was coming along this summer, so we needed a 2-person tarp & net-tent. I talked him into sewing the 2-person tarp, but it was a bit much for his very first sewing project. The tarp came out beautifully, but I think he could go two more years without looking at it again.

I said I would sew the new net-tent and batwing, but next thing you know it’s a week-and-a-half to the day of departure and I’m missing some important pieces of gear. My mom and I sat down and popped it out in ten hours. I spend a lot of time cursing Ray Jardine these days. (Although I keep having to take it all back when I finish a kit and the product is beautiful.)

I didn’t think I had much left to do today, but I ended up sewing a new stowbag for my sleeping quilt (Ray’s pattern ended up being too big to properly fit in my pack, so I down-sized it), another stowbag of the same pattern to use as a food bag, and stuff-sacks for the new tarp and net-tent. The last thing I made were clavicle pillows, as I like to think of them.

I’m using a Gossamer Gear mariposa backpack for my thru-hike, and the shoulder straps aren’t quite working out for me so far. The straps are a bit wider than your average backpack straps, and with thinner, stiffer foam. I suppose the idea is that the wider strap spreads the load out to ease your shoulders. The problem for me is that the strap rides right across my clavicle. The fact that it rides across a three-inch wide piece of clavicle instead of a two-inch piece doesn’t really help – I could just use a little padding (am I just supposed to have fatter clavicles or does this bother anyone else?). I was planning on just using a little sheepskin on the straps where they are uncomfortable, but the discount fabric store didn’t have any sheepskin. It did have this really ugly, blue, fake fur. Which is not the same thing as sheepskin. But if you fold it up into little pillows, it is very soft and squishy, so it just might do the trick. My clavicles sure hope so.


(I’m getting pretty tired of this view.)


Gearing Up, part 1

Deciding to hike the Pacific Crest Trail turned out to be just one of many decisions. My initial online sleuthing sent me out into deep morass of innumerable options. The internet quickly informed me that the backpacking gear I already owned wasn’t good enough, light enough, or awesome enough, but couldn’t seem to come to a consensus about just what gear WAS good enough, light enough, or awesome enough.

About this time, I ended up randomly chatting with a guy at a coffee shop who had hiked the PCT the year before. Not only that, he’d managed to squeeze all 2,660 miles in his summer break from med school. His secret? The Ray-way, pioneered by Ray Jardine.

“He’s the king of backpacking ultra-light,” said random guy. “I carried less weight and hiked 30 miles a day.”


I’d heard Ray Jardine’s name before, but only in a climbing context. He invented a new piece of gear, the “Friend”, that ended up revolutionizing traditional rock climbing. I’ve taken falls on them before myself, and a Friend in need truely is a friend indeed.

Anyhow, gotta trust somebody.