Installment #1 - April 16, 1999 - Here We Go!


You've been selected to become a member of an elite group of individuals who will be traveling with our friend Allen Downs as he hikes the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail this spring, summer and fall - vicariously, via the internet (it's a lot less exhausting that way).  Allen will be contacting me (Dave Pratt) when he can, usually by phone when he encounters civilization along the way, and I'll be posting the information on his progress.

To give you a little perspective into what Allen is taking on, here is a top-level map of the PCT - from Mexico to Canada.  Seems pretty challenging to me!  Hell, I've never even walked from Los Angeles to San Francisco!  Come to think of it, I've never walked uptown to the Post Office...

Below is Allen's very last report on his preparations that he typed himself, which he sent to me yesterday.  From now on I do the typing.  Allen, of course, has the harder job.

I look forward to sharing Allen's Great PCT Adventure with you!

Dave Pratt

Today is my last day of preparation for the Pacific Crest Trail.  Yesterday I was x-rayed for a possible cracked rib from my ice axe training (I guess I practiced a little too vigorously) and pronounced whole - probably just a bruise, and getting better every day.  Today I had a new crown put onto the tooth I broke last week.  So my body is more or less ready.

Tomorrow we (Rita, Aruna, and Robert Bedichek [shown here with his girlfriend Annie Warren], another thru-hike hopeful) drive south, and Saturday morning Bob & I start hiking north from the border south of Campo, California.  I will hike to Kennedy Meadows, about 700 trail miles, then return home for a brief visit, equipment change and resupply.  If all goes according to plan, I will reach Kennedy Meadows on 25 May.

Before reaching Kennedy Meadows,  the trail climbs to 9,000 feet three times - and that's snow country right now.  The snow is melting fast and, as Dave Porter pointed out to me, that means no dust and plenty of water to drink.  There is also a piece of the Mojave Desert to cross which will be a challenge for me as most of my training has been at cool

My equipment (from the skin out) weighs about 25 pounds without food and water.   Starting from home, my pack weighs about 28 pounds with food for 3 days ( that does not include hiking poles, camera, the clothes I will wear, and a few other items that are not carried in the pack).  I will stop in 6 towns along the way at intervals of 3 to 9 days, and pick up a resupply parcel which Rita will have mailed to the local post office.  The parcel will contain the food and supplies I need to get me to the next resupply point.  Also, from the resupply points I will call Dave Pratt with updates for you.

Right now I'm nervous.  What am I getting myself into?  I keep revisiting my equipment and food decisions, and I know some are not optimal, but I believe I am adequately prepared to enjoy the adventure.  I'm sure going to miss the luxuries of home (like a bed, a shower, clean clothes, and fresh food),  but I'm going to see a lot of places much more interesting.  Having worked out a schedule that says I will make it to Canada by late September, I am trying to shift gears and tell myself, "I'm out here to have fun.  I've got the food and equipment I need, and there are miles and miles of adventure ahead.  I'm going to enjoy the hike, and let the goal of reaching Canada take care of itself."

My next message should be from Lake Morena, at the end of my first day of hiking, then from Mt. Laguna (the first resupply point) two days later.  Here we go!


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