PCT: Day 56

I camped on and off during my early twenties with my friend Tim. We drank far more than we camped. Fortunately there aren’t any pictures to document those expeditions! After camping with Tim I took a few years off from camping to allow my liver to recover before venturing outdoors (in a tent) again.

As far as backpacking, Noelle and I discovered it together. When I think of backpacking it’s intertwined with Noelle. I’ve never been backpacking without Noelle. Some folks enjoy the solitude of backpacking, some enjoy the scenery and some enjoy the company they keep. I’m lucky enough that I enjoy all three!

This was Noelle on our first major backpacking adventure on the Wonderland trail in Washington state in the late 90’s.

This is us near the completion of the trail.

So that’s brings us to today. With Noelle unable to continue hiking the PCT (at this moment) I’ve decided to continue hiking on my own. I’m not sure what to expect. I may end up like my friend Jim banging out twenty miles a day and staring at the ants all day long…but I may end up loving it.

We’ve been off the trail for about a week. We purchased a camper van for Noelle and she’s going to somewhat track my daily hiking via the van. When possible we’ll reconnect and when it’s not possible we’ll each move forward on our own paths. It’s not ideal, but it’s what we’ve chosen for the moment. Hike your own hike huh? Well, we sure are!

So, I’m ditching the tent we had, a Z-Pack Triplex since it’s far too big for one person. (I’m incredibly grateful to my previous employer for giving me the Z-Pack as a farewell gift. I’ve smiled often when I see the personal notes from my co-workers on the stuff sack.)

I’ve grown weary of hunting for big rocks to secure the tent stakes every night, so out with the frameless and in with the frame! I’m going to try the Nemo Hornet Elite 1P tent with the rain fly.

I’m thinking I’ll focus more on miles and less on established tent sites. A smaller footprint will give me a little more tent site flexibility. The added flexibility will add about 1lb to my pack. The Zpacks are far lighter, so I’ll certainly miss the lighter weight, but I won’t miss the condensation one tiny bit.

I’m switching from a Jetboil Mini-Mo to a MSR pocket rocket. (Noelle carried the stove and I carried the tent.). I’ve added a Vargo Bot 700 to the mix for cold soaking and cooking. We’ve tried cold soaking in ziplock bags and found a few combinations that were edible, so I’ll try them on my own as well.

At the moment I’m anxious to get back on the trail. Finding the camper van was quite stressful. I know almost nothing about cars and less about RV’s. We took a few days to outfit the van and to allow Noelle to become familiar with it. Now it’s time to boogie!

When hiking as a couple we needed to find a pace that worked for both of us. If I’m hiking solo, well…I don’t really need to do that. I’m curious about what kind of pace I’ll set when it’s just me.

Time to stretch these long legs and see what they have to say about it…At the same time, there’s a massive amount of snow ahead in the Sierra mountains. Streaking towards Kennedy Meadows, the start of the Sierra range, may not be the wisest choice. Today I was reading about another couple we met. She dropped out today due to a foot stress fracture after a 20 mile day. Ouch.

A much younger backpacker!

15 thoughts on “PCT: Day 56

  1. Good Luck! Hike On!!!

  2. Where are you now? My land line and internet are back up so I can be in touch. Trail life is changing quickly, amazing. I think these changes are really going to be interesting for both of you.
    I have my wound vacuum now. I got it yesterday at Kaiser in Lancaster. My hiking is around the house and figuring out how to carry the battery and vacuum and still be active. My wound may be heeled by the time you finish the trail or before. Now Noelle can drive by and visit…………….

    1. Rosie, will you send us a message in the contact us box? It’ll send us an email and then we can trade phone numbers. We’ll be back around the Palmdale area on Monday or Tuesday (of the holiday weekend). We have friends there. If you’re close, we’d love to say hi! Noelle

  3. Stay safe out there! Especially with the massive amounts of snow ahead💖
    Hopefully you’ll get some gorgeous views 🤗

  4. CAROL KRAJEWSKI May 21, 2019 — 7:33 am

    Dude – you are amazing. Prayers continue for you both <3

  5. Hi,
    It’s Karen Huck. I saw you guys were doing this and get up each morning and read your blog! Amazing! And Noelle, you did rock it! That’s a lot of miles. You should be proud. The Sierras are beautiful but do be careful. We raised our kids there.
    Keep trucking! Karen

    1. Thanks Karen! We’re definitely looking forward to The Sierras although our current plan is to likely go around them till later in the season. They have 181% of average snowfall and keep getting more! We’ll see how it is when we get there!

  6. Noelle and Steve, I was so saddened to read the other day that you were coming off the trail but you have done a tremendous amount of miles and your are continuing your adventure. Steve, so delighted to hear you are continuing on the trail. That is a brilliant idea for you Noelle to move along with Steve in your camper van. Wishing you both a blast!

    1. Thanks Marion! We’re trying to stay out here even if it’s not how we meant it to be!

  7. Liz from Fresno Retro May 21, 2019 — 11:02 am

    And the adventure continues. Yay!! So glad Noelle will be moving along in the camper van! Wow! God bless you both❤️

    1. Thanks Liz! We’re trying to keep on keeping on! 😁❤️

  8. hi Stephen Noelle,

    I did not see that one coming. I’m glad for both of you. I can’t speak for Kathleen, but I know she felt sad when she had to leave me behind. I didn’t really think about how it would be for her, to continue without me, but in reading your story, I realized that there is another side to it. I was so focused on my own pain and feelings of disappointment and disillusionment that I did not really give a thought to how it affected Kathleen. Thank you so much to both of you for sharing your story with everyone. It has helped me to process some of the things I went through last summer.
    Love,

    Gregory

    1. Hey Gregory,
      I know you feel my pain! I’m glad both our versions helped with your experience last summer. I’m sure that Kathleen and Steve must have some of the same feelings about going on ahead. It’s not ideal for either side, but I’m glad we can still connect in the evenings!
      Hugs to you both, Noelle

  9. Way to adapt and make a new plan! There is always a new adventure just around the trail and in life 🙂 I love those photos of you both from your earlier backpacking adventures. Flash

    1. Thanks Flash! We were sure a lot younger then! 😂 You guys would probably like the Wonderland Trail, it’s around Mt Rainier. It’s the equivalent of summiting (& descending) the mountain 2 times, which seemed hard at the time but is likely nothing after the PCT!
      ❤️

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