Welcome NOLSies! Thanks for stopping by. You might enjoy:
The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) publishes a magazine with a circulation of 70,000. We’re happy to share that our Pacific Crest Trail thru hike story graces the cover of the Fall 2013 issue. The issue also contains a glowing review of our PCT photography book.
Read the cover article (pages 16-19) and book review (page 21) by clicking below:
A PDF of the entire issue is also available.
A week from today we’ll be giving a Lightweight Backpacking on the Pacific Crest Trail presentation in Anna’s hometown, Cincinnati. Here’s the blurb about the event:
Date: Sunday, August 18, 6 PM
Location: Roads Rivers and Trails, 118 Main Street, Milford, OH 45150
Anna Sofranko and Chris Alexander hiked the entire 2600-mile Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. They walked across deserts, over snow covered mountains, and through old growth forests. In order to complete the trail before heavy snow fell in Canada they had to hike about 20 miles each day for 5 months. Dramatically reducing their gear weight allowed them to cover such long daily mileages enjoyably and free of injury. In this presentation they’ll share stories from the adventure, lightweight backpacking tips, and beautiful photos from their book Pacific Crest Trail: A Journey in Photographs - http://wanderingthewild.com/book Come join us for an exciting evening!
Please Join and Share this event with your Facebook friends via https://www.facebook.com/events/606869279333432/
We’ll hang around after the presentation to answer questions about the PCT, the John Muir Trail (which overlaps with the PCT), lightweight backpacking, or whatever else you’ve been curious about as you read this blog.
Hope to see you there!
Anna rock hops across Evolution Creek in Kings Canyon National Park
On a backpacking trip we like to be just as comfortable hiking as we are in camp. Lightening our pack weight has been key. Carrying less weight means less physical strain, more energy to focus on the beautiful subtleties of nature, and ultimately more fun. At the same time, we also like to sleep comfortably and cook a hearty meal. When choosing gear, we aim for the sweet spot which perfectly balances comfort on the trail and in camp.
We had a great setup on the PCT, but we are always refining our gear, learning what items aren’t necessary, researching new products, and finding things which serve multiple purposes. Simple durable items are a favorite of ours. In addition we make changes based upon the terrain and weather in the area where we’re hiking.
We recently updated our Appalachian Trail gear list to reflect the changes we made while hiking the AT:
Hope you find it helpful.
We also wanted to let everyone know that North Star is continuing to recover. Her shingles rash is gone. The pain only flares up occasionally. The remaining issue is her energy level. She gets very tired after walking a few blocks. The discussion forums we’ve read concur that it usually takes between 1-3 months to return to full health after a shingles outbreak. We’ll continue to be patient.
Filling a long line of resupply boxes
On our Appalachian Trail thru hike, we’ll sometimes buy food at stores near the trail, and other times pick up a food box which we prepared prior to the hike. Organizing and creating food resupply boxes is time consuming, but we love the result: better tasting and more nutritious trail food. For vegetarians like us this is especially true, since vegetarian food is harder to find in tiny trail towns. Mailing food boxes also enables us to stay away from larger towns and remain in the wilderness. There’s nothing like the calm that extended time in the wild brings.
The first step in preparing food boxes is to create a meal plan. This has been an iterative process for us over the years. Incredibly, after hiking 2600 miles in 2012, we still love most of our backpacking food menu. We made a few small changes for the Appalachian Trail and have updated our list of favorite backpacking foods accordingly. You can view the list at any time by clicking the “Food” tab above.
The first shipment of our book Pacific Crest Trail: A Journey in Photographs arrived! We opened the first box, pulled out a book, flipped slowly through the pages, and took a mental trip through the wilderness from Mexico to Canada. We were overjoyed to see our vision for the book realized. Order a beautiful book for yourself here:
We’re hard at work assembling boxes, signing and wrapping books, and printing mailing labels. If you pre-ordered a signed book, it will ship on Monday. When you receive your book, drop us a comment on the blog and let us know your thoughts.
Our PCT thru hike was an amazing adventure. Creating this book turned out to be an equally challenging and rewarding journey.
We’ve finalized our Appalachian Trail thru hike gear! It’s similar to our PCT gear but even lighter. Check out our full AT gear list at:
Here are some of the new items we’ll be carrying on the Appalachian Trail:
Northstar twirls in her new rain jacket and kilt.
Northstar will wear a Marmot Crystalline women’s rain jacket on the AT. This minimalist jacket weighs just 6.2 ounces. It’s durable and protective, yet small enough to pack into its own pocket.
She’ll trade rain pants for a well-ventilated ULA rain kilt (2.9 oz). In addition to providing rain protection, this will allow some modesty when washing all our clothing in town.
Shutterbug will be sporting a 7.1 oz Rab Pulse rain jacket. Rab has managed to keep this jacket light while integrating a very functional and adjustable hood.
Montbell’s Dynamo wind pants will provide Shutterbug with basic wind and rain protection. They’re very breathable, and at 2.6 oz, they’re lighter than his shorts!
We created our Appalachian Trail food resupply plan with two priorities in mind:
- Stay close to the trail. We prefer to remain in the wilderness away from city noises and distractions. We’ll walk to our resupply points and avoid cars and shuttles wherever possible.
- Keep it strictly vegetarian and mostly organic. We’ll buy from grocery stores where feasible and ship food boxes to areas with slim vegetarian pickings.
We used a similar resupply strategy on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and it worked very well. On our Appalachian Trail (AT) thru hike we plan to buy food at 16 stores and pick up 20 maildrops. Some sections of the AT run close to convenience stores and restaurants. In those sections we will carry less food than normal.
Our thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail taught us many things. Here are five of the most important lessons we learned on the trail.
Marmot on the alert
Senses awaken in nature. After years of living in a city, our minds subconsciously created filters to deal with the contant jumble of sensory information. It was thrilling to remove those mental filters and reawaken our senses in the great outdoors. The crack of a distant twig alerted us to an elk, almost hidden in the forest. We could smell day hikers’ deodorant and laundry detergent from several feet away. Our eyes tracked the subtle movements of a soaring hawk adjusting to shifting air currents. The longer we lived in the wild, the sharper our senses became.
People are good. On the trail, day hikers and trail angels gave us encouragement, kudos, and tasty food. Other thru hikers shared our joy during good times, and cheered us up during harder moments. Crews of volunteers labored to maintain the trail. The people we met in the small towns along the PCT were incredibly friendly and accommodating. Strangers went out of their way to give us rides, find us rooms, and some even offered us their homes for a night. The kindness and generosity we received went beyond anything we could have expected. We saw the fundamental goodness of people during our thru hike.
In the past year, we used three different lightweight backcountry water filters: the SteriPEN, the Sawyer 3-Way Inline Water Filter, and the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter. Here we share our experiences with each of these water treatment methods.