After completing the AT in 2017, I spent the next couple of years with Linda working on a geocaching challenge. In 2016, we completed the Oregon Forest Fire Lookout Challenge which entailed finding 50 geocaches at former and current lookout locations. The caveat is that the state is carved up into nine zones and you must get at least four finds in each zone. We four-wheeled and/or hiked to some amazing locations across the state seldom visited by others. We had such a good time that we decided to tackle the Washington version of this challenge during the summers of 2018 and 2019. We haven’t yet completed this one but have got the eastern side of the state completed.
2020 Pacific Crest Trail Colorado Trail Thru Hike
I really didn’t have the desire to tackle the CDT but doing the PCT again sounded like fun. I was lucky and got a great start date for the middle of April. But then along came COVID and my PCT plans went out the window. Fortunately, by the summer of 2020 things had calmed down somewhat, so I pivoted to the Colorado Trail. I started in mid-July and was finished by late August. Unlike some hikers, I had no COVID-related transportation issues to Waterton or from Durango due to the fact my sister lives near Denver and provided transportation. It was a glorious hike. I had heard horror stories about the afternoon thunderstorms, but only had to hustle over one pass, and only had one very minor hail shower. And along the way I met a couple of trail celebrities (Blackpacker and Darwin.).
2021 Tahoe Rim Trail
I’m not really sure this counts as a thru-hike, but it was a trip that all serious backpackers should have on their list. I went against conventional wisdom and hiked counterclockwise, starting from Tahoe City. This allowed me to cross paths with NOBO PCT hikers in the Desolation Wilderness as well as saving the water carries for the end of the hike when I was in better shape. Once again, I had great weather and did not have to deal with any snowpack. It took me two weeks to do the circuit including a zero in South Lake Tahoe and a nero in Carson City. My only real regret was not taking a fishing pole. I’m going to say that going south on the PCT, rather than my age, contributed to me not recognizing much of the trail other than for Lake Aloha. Once again, proving that it’s a small world, a crossed paths on trail with a friend of my sister as well as Cricket who I had met on the CT the previous year.
2022 Arizona Trail TransAmerica Bike Tour
My AZT plans never really got off the ground – shortly after getting the book and maps I learned that my son and daughter-in-law were expecting their second child in mid-April. This would be right in the middle of an AZT hike and it would be bad form to not be there to meet the newest member of my family. At about the time I learned about the baby, I was listening to an audio book entitled Bicycling With Butterflies. The focus of the book is on the plight of the Monarch Butterfly (I highly recommend the book), but it got me thinking about a tour. I had zero experience with a bike tour, but none the less soon decided to do the traditional TransAmerica route from Yorktown, VA to Astoria, OR.
Procuring a bike became an issue. Because of supply chain issues, getting a new bike proved to be problematic. I ended up getting a virtually new Trek 520 from Facebook Marketplace. Once again I was fairly busy at work, so I didn’t do much training. I did one overnight out-and-back (40 miles each way) and started to think this might be more difficult than I had anticipated. I departed from the east coast in mid-May and reached Astoria 75 days later, a ride of 3,965 miles. I did end up “blue blazing” – upon reaching Missoula, MT. I jumped onto the Lewis and Clark Route to save a few hundred miles as well as avoid covering territory In Oregon I was already pretty familiar with. Although I rode with several individuals, the majority of the ride was solo. So encountering a rider heading east was always a big deal. This route crosses the AT, CDT, and PCT and it was fun to run into hikers on all three trails.
Now, if you have listened to Backpacker Radio episodes #176 (Kevin Conley) or #181 (The Real Hiking Viking), you will have heard these thru-hikers extolling the virtues of bike touring. I am here to second (third?) that motion. I had good intentions but the lure of a shower, clean laundry, good food, a six pack, and a bed proved to be too much. I ended up camping out only 13 times. The rest of the nights were spent in motels/bike hostels (46), churches (7), or with a WarmShowers host (8). I would highly encourage thru-hikers to consider a tour for their next adventure. The only caveat is that it can real expensive in a hurry. I spent about $15,000 all-in (equipment and repairs, transportation, shipping, lodging, and meals.) Even taking out the lodging cost, I would still recommend a budget of $10,000 if you are starting from scratch.
All right, enough about my past. My next post will be AZT specific, focusing on my kit.
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