My Gear List for the PCT

Long distance hikers love to talk about their gear. I am an exception to this rule because I actually hate talking about gear! It stresses me out, I don’t find it that interesting, and I hate how competitive the conversations become – I don’t really care which quilt is lighter or which tent is larger and I definitely don’t want to have an argument about stuff sacks vs. no stuff sacks or trail runners vs. hiking boots! Ugh, I’m stressed just thinking about it. All I want from my gear is for it to do its job, be somewhat lightweight, not cost a million dollars, and if it comes in pink? Well, that’s a bonus that I’ll gladly take, duh!

That said, almost everyone I’ve mentioned my hike to has been very interested in what gear I’m taking, so I have put together the stereotypical “PCT Gear Post” for y’all to peruse.

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What I’m Wearing On The PCT

I’m so weird about clothes. My style is somewhere on the spectrum of girly-lazy-sparkly-pink-sporty-cute-toddler-grandma. Make of that what you will. I’ve definitely gone through shifts in style, as everyone does, and those shifts have been influenced by my body size and shape, where I’m living at the time, trends and fads, what job I’m working, who I’m surrounded by, and how I happen to feel in my heart on any given day. I identify as femme, which is complicated and not what I feel like writing about right now, but I also majorly identify as lazy when it comes to what I wear. I’ve been known to put together an outfit I like and wear it for 10+ days in a row because I just couldn’t be bothered to change it up. It’s not minimalist and it’s not even a middle finger to consumerist culture or anything like that – there’s no great meaning behind it, I’m literally just lazy. (And white, and cis, and a person who has a certain amount of privilege in that she can walk around town in the same black spandex leggings and loose cotton grey t-shirt with no bra for literally more than a week and not be judged, harmed, or treated any differently than I would be if I put on a new outfit every day – maybe people judge me in their heads, but on a scale of what can happen to you for wearing the “wrong thing” in this fucked up world, that is not a big deal.)

Based on the above information, you’d think it wouldn’t be too hard to find an outfit to wear on the Pacific Crest Trail. I am not perturbed by wearing the same clothes over and over in my day to day life – why would I mind doing so on the trail? Answer: I totally don’t mind! But alas, a combination of being fatter than most outdoor apparel companies believe their consumers to be, being a little bit vain in that I’d like to look cute in the photos I take over the next five months, and having no idea how I will actually feel when it comes to heat/cold/anything on the trail has made this task a tiny bit…challenging.

Here’s the outfit I’ve come up with for the first portion of the trail. A challenge on the PCT is that the landscape and ecosystems change so drastically from one portion of the trail to the next that something that is essential for the first 700 miles may be totally useless once you hit the final 700 miles. As such, I’m open to changing my outfit as I go, and I know for a fact that I will need slightly different gear in the Sierra and Washington. This is just the first draft of what I think will work for me.

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photo by Binky, who told me I looked “soft butch” when she snapped this gem

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Fundraising For Big City Mountaineers: Help Me Raise $2,650 By The Time I Get To Canada

Hi hello it’s so nice to see you! I’m really glad you’re here because I’ve got some very exciting news to share today! I know, I know – I already told you that I’m hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this year and that I leave in just three short weeks. But guess what, I have even more exciting news! In honor of my PCT hike, I am raising funds for Big City Mountaineers (BCM), an organization that instills critical life skills in under-resourced urban youth through wilderness mentoring expeditions. Put simply, BCM helps kids who would never otherwise have the opportunity to explore the Great Outdoors get outside, learn about nature and themselves, and take an often much-needed break from day to day city life. It’s an incredible organization, and I’m honored to be able to use my PCT hike to raise awareness and funds for their work.

If you’re ready to donate to my fundraiser for Big City Mountaineers now, you can go ahead and click this link! Once you’re on my fundraising page click the orange DONATE button on the right side of the page and follow the instructions. Thank you for supporting this cause with me!

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PCT Prep: Vanessa and the Productive, Warm, Delicious, Very Good Tuesday

I had a very productive day yesterday with regards to prepping for my 2017 Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike, so even though I am actually currently gripped with intense anxiety about everything from handling the snow in the Sierra to which rain jacket I should buy to how I will handle being so far away from Alley for five whole months, I thought now might be a good time to check in with another handy dandy bullet point list re: my preparation. Here’s what’s up, aside from that pesky Anxiety Brain I’m experiencing.

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PCT Prep: Maps, Dried Vegetables, Gear, and More!

Okay, after writing my last PCT Prep post, I complained to everyone I love about how long it took me and how I’m anxious that my blogging style means I won’t be able to commit to updating regularly on trail. In an effort to get over myself and also to spare my patient loved ones from putting up with my silly blogging complaints, I’m trying out a different style for this post! Here’s some nitty gritty stuff I’ve been doing to prep for the trail, in short list form, without much chatter or ~intense thoughts~ behind it. Ready set go!

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PCT Prep: To Do Lists For Forever

Oh my gosh you guys, the responses to my post announcing that I’m gonna hike the Pacific Crest Trail this year have been THE BEST. Seriously, every single person who has reached out to me (or reached out to my mom, hi all of my mom’s friends who are reading this blog now, I am genuinely so pleased to have you here, welcome!) has been so nice and so enthusiastic and it is bringing me so much joy in what has honestly been a pretty dark time!

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Angel’s Rest, March 7th 2017

Spoiler alert, because if you’re gonna follow along with my PCT journey you’re gonna be getting to know me really well, so we may as well get this out of the way now: I wanted Hillary Clinton to be president. I thought she was gonna be. I’ve been really sad and anxious since the night of November 8th. There’s a lot to unpack in those sentences – obviously Hillary wasn’t going to fix everything for everyone, it’s a privilege to have felt safe in some capacity prior to Donald Trump’s inauguration, etc.

But without unpacking those sentences too much, I think I can still write them and have them be true – I have been so sad and anxious since Donald Trump became president. Most of the people in my life feel the same. Finding joy now has been harder than it was six months ago. It feels, in some ways, incredibly luxurious to choose to hike the PCT this year of all years. In other ways, it feels absolutely necessary. I’ll write about that more, I’m sure. But for now mostly what I want to articulate is that I am so happy that I am committing to this hike, and I am so happy to be receiving support and encouragement and enthusiasm from all of you! This blog is for me, but it is also for you. So hi, thank you for following along and being excited with me. It’s a pretty cool feeling to know y’all think this is neat and want me to succeed. Thank you!

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An Imagined Conversation Between You And Me About My Upcoming Thru-Hike On The Pacific Crest Trail

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Hi hello welcome this is the blog post where I announce that I am thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this year! Come on in, I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Hi Vanessa! What’s up?

Oh, not too much. I’ve just become totally insufferable because all I want to talk about 24/7 is the fact that I’m going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail this year and I leave in just a couple of months and I’m excited and terrified and preoccupied about which sports bra I should wear on this journey!

Woah, what is the Pacific Crest Trail?

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650 mile “wild and scenic pathway” that stretches from Mexico to Canada, passing through California, Oregon, and Washington. It is one of three major trails in the United States (the other two major trails are the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail). If you live in Oregon you’ve probably heard of it or know someone (or 42 people, depending on what your social circle looks like) who has hiked it. If you live on the East Coast you can think of it as a West Coast version of the AT, though the trails themselves are actually pretty different.

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