Sooner and sooner, the departure day approaches. I can feel fear, excitement, doubt, confidence all arising as I think about what lies before me, whether I’m prepared physically, mentally, spiritually.
Finally, after probably 10 visits from the UPS guy and 3 trips to REI, I feel confident I’m equipped with all the gear I’ll need to start my hike. Inevitably, I’ll need to replace items and buy specialized gear for special conditions. I’ve heard most PCTer’s go through about 5 pairs of shoes over the course of the hike. Running shoes are recommended, because they are lightweight, quick to dry, and provide good support — though have a life span of only about 500 miles. Even if your shoes didn’t fall apart, you’d still have to replace them as your feet start to grow. That’s right — a size to a size-and-a-half on average. Apparently they shrink back down a bit after you finish hiking, but many people report a permanent net gain of half of a size. Makes you wonder about those PCT lifers that do the trail almost every year — they must have giant feet my now.
Other gear I’ll still have to buy are gaiters and a bear canister for the High Sierra stretch. Bear canisters are required in Sequoia, King’s Canyon and Yosemite — all places I’ve camped in, but never back-packed through.