Ever since thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail back in 1979 I’ve dreamed of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I feel very lucky to have the chance to do that starting in the spring of 2017. Over the past year I’ve been planning and updating all of my gear. The gear available has changed an awful lot. Light weight is now the name of the game. I enjoy too many comforts to go ultra-light but I’ve managed to get my base weight (no food, fuel or water) down to 16 lbs. (editors note: it crept back up closer to 20 lbs over the course of my hike)
With some reluctance I replaced my huge Kelty Serac II Expedition pack with a lighter Osprey Exos 58 pack, my good old thick tree trunk walking stick with a carbon fiber pole, a lighter sleeping bag, new tent from Tarptent, etc. Just about every piece of my gear has been replaced and every ounce I will be carrying has been debated. You can see my current gear list here.
To test my new gear and old body I hiked about 500 miles of the Appalachian Trail during October 2016. I started from Springer Mountain in Georgia on September 27th and ended in Damascus, Virginia on November 2. I started off slow and had some pains but by my last week I was averaging over 18 miles per day. My two questions were answered: Yes, I can still do long distance hiking. And yes, I still love it.
I am going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. I am planning to start from the Mexican border on April 21, 2017. I hope to arrive at the Canadian border, 2660 trail miles away, by the end of September.
In 1979 I kept a journal on paper and called home from payphones occasionally. This time I’ll have an Android phone, a Delorme Inreach Explorer two-way satellite communicator and this blog site. I expect to write a blog post each day and upload them when I have connectivity to do so.
The Delorme device will send my GPS coordinates via satellite and update a map where you can see my location and progress. I expect to send those location updates at the end of each hiking day. The Delorme also allows two-way texting so I can stay in touch with my wonderful wife Gayle.
– Jon Rietmulder