Short Blog about My Short PCT Section Hike

Because this will be a long post, I’ll also write a short “What I Learned” post. If you want more detail about the trip, read the other post as well. This short post is mostly a humorous review of my failures.

Short trips like this are perfect for learning what works & what doesn’t, and I learned some things!

Bug Spray: OMG the bugs! I really dislike putting DEET on my body. I’ve long taken comfort in how few mosquitos bite me, and how unbothered I am by the bites when they do. I’ve been trying to move my mindset away from this, as I live in an area with West Nile virus. It doesn’t matter if I don’t get ill; I don’t want to be a carrier. This year, I’ve discovered I’m no longer invisible to mosquitoes. I may not get swarmed as much as others do, but when I’m the only human around they’re more than happy to land on my thin, furless skin. (I am very grateful that the bites rarely itch. That’s a blessing!)

The other thing? Mosquitoes are not the only biting insects. It feels kinda dumb to write that, but it was equally dumb for me to equate not getting bit by mosquitoes with not getting bit at all. I encountered a variety of biting flies this weekend. My shoulders, the backs of my arms, and the backs of my legs are mottled with red. “Piebald” comes to mind.

DEET will come along with me. I find that if I spray it on my clothes (socks, trouser legs, hat, shirt), it keeps them off me. If I can cut the bites down to a dozen or so rather than the 100-ish I got this weekend, it’s progress. (No ticks this trip. I checked.)

Do Not Start a Three-Day Hike with Four Tylenol: That was really dumb. I debated with myself whether to take the Tylenol. Am I in enough pain to justify it? What if I need it more later?

Sunday night, I was kind of elated that I could take the Tylenol.

Food: I brought too much food and I didn’t eat enough. That’s an impressive level of fail.

Late dinner Friday. Too-small breakfast Saturday. Too-big lunch Saturday. Saturday sucked. Sunday was a much better day, and that’s probably largely because I got closer to what I needed nutrition-wise.

Here’s the stupid part: I had two friggin’ pounds of food left when I got home. I prefer to have at least an extra day’s worth of food in case of emergencies, but that’s reedickalus.

This was a moderate hike in terms of distance and elevation gain & loss (about 32 miles, about 4200′ elevation gain & loss). I burned an extra 1500 kCal a day. I figure that means I need to plan to eat a minimum of 3000 kCal a day on any subsequent, similar hikes. Next time, I will plan better.

The other thing? I didn’t want to eat. I experienced the “I’m too exhausted to eat” feeling. From ultrarunning – more importantly, from staffing aid stations and dealing with 100-milers – I know this is deadly. You have to remember you’re basically dealing with a toddler. “You don’t want to eat? IDGAF – you’re eating. NOW.” The difference is that while you may worry about setting up your child for a lifetime of food issues, not eating when your body is depleted and then continuing to force your body to work means your muscle tissue begins to break down at a fast enough rate that you fall by the side of the trail and die.

At least then the biting flies will leave you alone.



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