At this point my training and preparation started to ramp up. Rose found a great training hike in Guinda, Pierce Canyon Falls, and I tried that a few times over the next month. It’s an 8.4 mile up and back round trip road with about 900 feet of elevation gain and absolutely, positively, no waterfall visible during my training. None, zero, nada. The vertical training was greatly needed, as even without a backpack, I was quite winded and needed a few breaks.
By December, I continued to walk Kona (our dog) 5 miles around town in the morning, and would then drive the 35 miles to Guinda to hike Pierce Canyon (no) falls. My daily mileage thru March generally was between 10 and 13 miles, with at least 4 Guinda hikes every week. By February, I was able to walk the Guinda trail without breaks, and although I would get winded, it was doable without too much effort even on the steeper uphill’s (of course I still was not carrying my pack).
On Jan 19, 2020, I got on the PCT permit website (I got on a couple hours after the permit process officially opened). 5000 people had been on ahead of me, and the best date I could get was March 21, 2021. Over the next month, I was able to improve the starting date somewhat, ending up with my official start date of April 8, 2021 (my buddy’s start date is April 11). I kinda like this date as the heat in the desert will be less, and hopefully the water sources will be better, but future snow issues at around miles 170 early on, and in the Yosemite and Tahoe area may prove difficult (although so far it is a low snowpack year, only about 65% of normal). Sadly for the current hikers, this year’s mid-March section in the desert has been brutal, with numerous windy snowstorms and miserable conditions. Hopefully by April 8, more normal conditions will exist.
By mid-January, my weight had improved to 230. With the stepped up training, by March 22, my weight after workout was down to 210. While not perfect, since starting training in February 2020, I had dropped the weight of 2 fully loaded backpacks (60 pounds) and generally felt much better prepared for the difficult journey ahead. Knowing that every pound lost was a pound I would not have to haul up a hill has been a great motivator.
On April 3, Rose and myself will start the drive down to Campo in our new conversion van (Dora the explorer), and will visit my mom in Aptos, John in Santa Barbara, and hopefully Dennis and Pam in Tustin, before arriving early in Campo to start the hike.
Although I am equally thrilled and petrified over the journey ahead, I am very anxious to get started, and finally walk rather than train.