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Posts Tagged ‘Cat Food Can Stove’

Onward! The time for a new adventure has finally come! Tomorrow, I will fly down to California, spend Saturday at the annual kick-off, and begin hiking the Pacific Crest Trail on Sunday.  The PCT runs from Campo, CA to Manning Park, BC for a total of 2663.5 miles…on foot.  Yes, that’s right, I’m walking!  No, I am not crazy. No, I don’t think a bear will eat me.  No, I am not carrying a gun.

I have spent the past few days quickly running through my last minute to-do lists such as printing out all of Halfmile’s maps which took a few printer ink cartridges, making a cat food can alcohol stove, fixing some gear issues, getting permits, finding plenty of small plastic containers for hot sauce, compiling delicious trail food etc.  My dearest most awesome mother has agreed to run my support through mail drops and excellent varieties of vegan cookies, as well as helping me sew up some clothing including replacing the zipper of my wind jacket which unbeknownst to me became horribly corroded in the past few months.  My awesome father has also pitched in, sending me amazing amounts of flavored peanut butter and chocolate bars. Big thanks to them!

I’ve been super excited about this thru-hike ever since I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2010 and the Colorado Trail in 2011.  Those stories are on this blog as well.  But in the meantime, I invite you to jump on and follow the adventure of the summer!

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(Cat food can alcohol stove…goodbye canisters!)

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(All of Halfmile’s maps printed double sided)

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Leaving the historical hut, our plan was to follow up a drainage which Christian described only as “slow travel,” then up a ridge just as steep as the first one we climbed for ISGE.  He was right.  We only had to go about a kilometer or kilometer and a half up the drainage, but the steep banks and a decent elevation change made river crossings sketchy at best and finding suitable terrain not covered in matagouri difficult.

Wanting to stick to our plan, we continued crossing the drainage a little early, getting knee-deep in the water, to avoid densely packed matagouri only to face a large, sketchy gully.  To get through that, we hiked up considerably high to find a somewhat suitable place to cross.  Unfortunately, at one point, our only handhold was a matagouri bush.  After getting across, I had to stop and pick a thousand matagouri needle things out of my hand.  I had an odd flashback to my mother and grandmother picking driftwood splinters out of my feet every night with needles.

Back down at the drainage, we ran into more and more of the same problems: matagouri and spaniards poking us, lack of moderately even ground, difficult sections of water to cross, and steep banks on either side.  When we finally made it to the Y we had marked, we saw the ridge we needed to climb.  Breathing a sigh of relief to be rid of that annoying drainage, we began to climb 400m in a kilometer or so – steep but preferable to getting beat up by plants.  Plus, with considerably less food, none of us found it quite so taxing as the first ridge.

Near the top, we had to follow a much more gentle slope over to a cool tarn we had marked with an x on the map.  Due to the

The tent facing the wind off the higher tarn.

terrain layout, we ended up climbing the first peak marked on the ridge, then descending the 50m or so to the tarn.  By that time, the wind had picked up in its usual fashion and sent us into a tizzy about finding the most protected area to set up the tent to avoid staying up all night in shifts to make sure the poles don’t break.

We deliberated and scouted every spot around the tarn until finally we came to the decision of just angling it directly with the wind and using the very nearby large rocks as giant anchors.  It ended up working fairly well and the wind lessened over the course of the evening into the night.

Sunset

Ryan found a hole in his thermarest that the matagouri had poked through his backpack and the stuff sack and set about fixing it with some seam sealer and a patch, then weighing it down with several large rocks to dry in the remaining sunlight.  Unfortunately, we had a few large gusts of wind which decided against our will to flip all four rocks over creating another, larger rip in the thermarest which he attempted to fix again.

That evening, we saw one of the best sunsets on the whole trip.  The clouds turned a bright fire-red, making them appear like volcanic lava exploding in the sky.

I had a great night’s sleep only to wake up to James rushing out of the tent and puking his brains out.  When we peered out to check on him, all we saw was the cat hole digging ice ax gone.

Heather, Ryan, and I packed everything up and got everything for the morning ready while we tried to get some liquids and basic food to stay down in James’ stomach.  When he felt ready, we left, hiking up to the ridge opposite of the tarn to hike toward our end point.  We had placed a few super short days in toward the end to give us some leeway in case we ran into any issues and boy were we glad we did.  Our entire day’s plan was to hike up to the ridge, follow the ridge for a bit, then drop down to a small lake on the other side.  I believe the distance was a mere 5 kilometers, but of the typical New Zealand steepness, loose footing, and rock hopping.

It took us the better part of the day to get there stopping anywhere from every 10 minutes to every 30 minutes for James to use the little boys cat hole.  Toward the end of the ridge, we divided up the weighty things of his pack to make it easier for him since he was getting dehydrated from the loss of fluids.

The small lake was only a few kilometers from the end-point which we had to hit between 11am and noon.  Easy enough.  We woke up to misty rain which severely decreased visibility a few times in the short hike there.

We had one river crossing which we had been warned could be gnarly, but it ended up being super easy and gave us no problems.  Eventually we hit the marked fence on the map and followed it straight to the track leading into the beech forest and to the end parking lot where we would be picked up the next day.

Getting close to the last bit, we saw the other group’s tents set up just far enough back in the forest so Andy and Christian wouldn’t see them.  Or so they thought.  They had diverted to get there the night before because Tracy’s knees were having some issues.  Apparently, the instructors saw them anyway and pretended not to notice until nightfall when they snuck around and made bird noises until they got out of their tents to explore.

That afternoon, we ate the rest of our food and closed out the session with the usual “paperwork” and whatnot.  We repaired as much of the equipment as we could and had a rousing last night stew to top it all off.  Road brecky would come in the morning, so we sterilized the cookware and ate everything else.

So, that’s NOLS New Zealand in a nutshell.

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