It’s Almost Here!

If you know me, you probably know that I’m a neurotic over-planner. My solo hike along Section J of Washington’s PCT starts in three days, but I’ve put a lot of thought and planning into this. My pack is almost packed (still need to re-do my first aid kit, still need to buy the last few bits of food for my lunches); now, I just wait.

The waiting is more acute because I’m going to be in Leavenworth Wednesday-Friday for job-related training. I want my bag packed & ready to go tonight, so I can just load it into the truck tomorrow morning and not worry about anything.

I am apprehensive. I’ve done a few three-day solo hikes; this trip may take me 7-8 days. The longest hike I’ve ever done was eight days. That was nearly two decades ago, so I cannot gauge how this trip will go based upon that trip. I’m confident, though. I have pretty good situational awareness. I’m stubborn. I feel really good about the NOLS Wilderness First Aid class I took last weekend. While much of the food I’m taking with me is “new” (recipes I’ve not tried before), all of my gear is tested and I’m familiar with it. The neurotic over-planner personality trait tends to make me a worrier, and my extremely good imagination had provided plenty of scenarios in which things can go horribly awry. But this worry-daydreaming I do isn’t dissuading me. I have no feelings of dread that make me think I should not be doing this. I’m really anxious to get on the trail!

I’ve been checking the weather. There aren’t weather stations along the route, so I’ve been checking the weather at the top of Mission Ridge (6700′ above sea level) and Stampede Pass (4000′ feet above sea level). It’s suddenly unseasonably cool: the forecast calls for snow level as low as 6000′ this week. I had already planned to pack thermals, an knit cap, gloves, and a warm fleece jacket; I may actually need to use them! I have no concerns about staying warm in the hammock, as I’ve found my nest to be very cozy. As long as I can keep my hands warm while making breakfast in the morning — I’m very glad most of my breakfasts are hot breakfasts — I’ll be okay. I’d rather it be a little cool while I’m on the trail, as this route involves a LOT of climbing. Climbing with a pack when it’s 50°F is much easier than climbing when it’s 90°F.

Two of the new recipes I’m trying out came from this cookbook. They’re both dessert recipes – yay pudding! And at nearly 400 calories per serving, I’m thinking they will be an excellent way to end my evening. I initially packed eight, but I certainly won’t need dessert the first two nights on the trail. (My weight’s been hovering around 170 all week – I really need to burn off some of the fuel I’ve put back on.)

The other new recipe is chicken & dumplings. It’s essentially the same way I make beef stew – dehydrated meat & vegetables and a gravy mix – but as it’s simmering I’ll add in the dumplings. I’m using a ‘just add water’ biscuit mix. Fortunately, my stove has a true simmer setting (white gas stoves don’t). It’s kind of risky making an untested recipe out in the trail, but it’s hard to imagine this’ll be inedible, especially after a day of hiking. As long as it’s hot and gooey, I’ll eat it.

I’m also going ‘old school’ with a hunk of cheese and a summer sausage for lunch, with pilot bread. My other lunch option is chocolate-coconut peanut butter with dried banana chunks on flour tortillas. It’s another untested experiment. I chopped up the dried bananas, with the idea I’d sprinkle them onto the peanut butter. If that doesn’t work, I’ll probably toss the banana chunks into oatmeal or a trail mix.

Another change I’ve added is gummy vitamins. It’s only a week so it’s pretty much impossible for me to develop any vitamin deficiencies. But I’d prefer to keep up some minimal amount of ‘coverage’ of vitamins, just in case my diet is lacking. I received a free sample a few weeks ago, and they weren’t disgusting. I figured I’d rather chew the vitamins than swallow some large pill. The brand I received included a $2 coupon, but alas, my local Rite Aid doesn’t carry that brand. I found another that’s organic & all natural. Lo and behold, there was a rebate offer on the bottle — I got them for free! Much better than $2 off. (And because Ibotta offered a ten-cent rebate on any item purchased at Rite Aid, they were better than free! NB: this is a referral link; if you and four other people sign up through this link, I’ll get $25.)

Last weekend’s wilderness first aid course was very timely! I’m going to have to re-do my first aid kit, but I’ve never felt more confident in my skills after any of the other first aid classes I’ve taken – including a quarter-long industrial first aid class I took in college.

Tonight, we’re  planning to go out to dinner. The Hubs noted that this will be the longest we’ve been apart since we got married. I’ve got a lot to do yet to get the house ready for me to be gone for ten days, but it’ll be nice to take a break from all the work. I have a bit of time in the morning before I leave for Leavenworth, but tomorrow will mostly be me running around the house, wondering what I’m forgetting. Sadly, my over-planning neurosis rarely expresses itself in ‘to-do lists.’

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