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!

WA's Wonderland Trail

Noelle on the Wonderland

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.

WA's Wonderland Trail

On the Wonderland 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.

WA's Wonderland Trail

Mt Rainier

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.

WA's Wonderland Trail

Steve on the Wonderland

A much younger backpacker!

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