Saturday, April 28, 2012

PCT Kickoff Recap

Night graciously gives way to day; birds cheerfully sing their sweet tunes, as a hiker drowsily transitions to an awakened reality, knowing exactly what has to be done that day. This is a typical morning for a backpacker.

My alarm blared at 5:30 A.M., I opened my eyes and knew the plan for the day. Except, I was not in my tent, I was in bed, at home. The Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off (ADZPCTKO) was underway at Lake Morena Campground and I had to be there! Los Angeles traffic and a three-hour (one way) commute were no match for my intention for the day.

Lake Morena
As I drove down the road into the Lake Morena day visitor area, passing the sea of tents, I got the chills and proclaimed out loud to myself, "I am home!"

tent city
This time around, I wanted to mingle with as many people as possible during my short visit. In an effort to keep this post relatively concise, below is a snippet of the people I met & presentations I attended.

Billy Goat
Billy Goat is a PCT rock star!! This man is almost 70 years old but has the legs of someone in his twenties. He has hiked the PCT 5 times in recent years.

Strider, a 1977 PCT alum, coordinates this wonderful event. His love affair with the PCT is over 30 years old and is as alive as ever.

Shutterbug is a petit woman who hiked, filmed and helped make the PCT movie 'Six Million Steps: A Journey Inward.' I chatted with her for about 10 minutes about trail life, filming the trail and camera equipment. She had a smile painted on her pale white face the entire time as she recalled her experiences on the trail. Great gal.

The last person I had the pleasure of meeting was Condor, a very personable hiker who received lots of media attention last year for his wonderful trail journals and videos. He recommended a few hikes in the Angeles National Forest I check out. Great guy.

Checked my phone, it was almost noon. I collected my belongings and made a beeline for the pavilion. Klarity is a fun yoga instructor who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2010. She didn't just talk about how yoga helped her stay injury free, she showed us! And, yours truly took part in a 40-minute practice! So great.

hiking meets yoga...finally!
In the Q & A that followed, she recommended an exercise to prevent shin splints. "Write each letter of the alphabet in CAPS with each foot," she said. Thank you Klarity!

Not ready to leave just yet, I decided to stay for Bigfoot's presentation on avoiding overuse injuries. Bigfoot - an engineer in his 'normal' life - closed with this great statement that stuck with me. "The gear stuff is fun," he said, "but this [knowing how to avoid injuries] is important." Another reminder to not lose sight of the big picture! Thank you Bigfoot!

After six hours of pure delight, sadly, I had to leave. it was a very short trip indeed, but no regrets here. Yes I wish I could stay longer, but that'll have to wait 'til next year, when I kick off my own PCT journey!

It was a pleasure mingling with so many wonderful people. I thank those who organize this spectacular event and wish all the best to this year's thru'ers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bearth-Day Weekend

Many people know that Sunday, April 22nd is Earth Day. Lesser known amongst the masses is that Saturday, April 21, 2012, marks the 174th birthday of the self labeled "poetico, trampo, geologist, botanist, ornithologist, naturalist [and conservationist]," John Muir.

John Muir circa 1872
Everyone has been impacted by John Muir's conservation efforts no matter the extent of his or her relationship with nature. As Edward Abbey once said, simply knowing that wild spaces still exist gives me great joy - even if I never get to see most of those places.

These words ring very true for me because my relationship with nature is very intimate. But for most people, their relationship with nature is rather dormant. The beauty of nature is that it does not care about one's relationship to it because a piece of every person's heart naturally resides in nature - it's the way we all are.

Therefore, when those who aren't served a regular dose of nature venture out into wild places, they are greeted with open arms. Nature offers them a respite from city life by recharging their souls and awakening their humanness. You see, "when nature surrounds you, when quiet and solitude is the order of the day, it is easier to hear one's deep internal voices." ~Jamie Simons. Then, perhaps it will become possible for one's heart to re-connect and be one with nature.

(Left) Postage Stamp, 1964. (Right) Postage Stamp, 1998
That intimate connection with our natural world provides us with a very nurturing and safe feeling. When people reap the multitude of benefits nature has to offer again and again, I am certain they will want to preserve nature because when we love something, we naturally want to protect it!

While I appreciate the importance of Earth Day, I believe more awareness can be raised if we combine Earth Day with John Muir's birthday to care for our home - Planet Earth - over a weekend celebration. All of us will suffer if our wild places diminish; therefore honoring one of the pioneers of the preservation movement should also be a day everyone in the world acknowledges and celebrates.

John Muir's Birthday + Earth Day = Greater Awareness
Whether you become motivated to consume less energy in your home, drive less or simply go for a hike, make time this weekend to take care of our planet and yourself - there aren't any others like either of them!

"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." ~John Muir

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

John Muir Trail Food: Part Deux

A demanding schedule has hindered my cooking time as of late, which has translated into very little time to experiment with dinners. This week, I finally made time, prepped a few simple dishes and tossed ’em into the dehydrator.

Before I get to those, I’d like to mention that my previous experiments were a success!! Even after 21 days in ziplock bags, the lentils and black beans look and taste great!

A day after I made the lentils and black beans, I made rice noodles with olive oil, mushrooms, asparagus, dried dill, salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. After 20 days, the rice noodles look good and taste even better. I think I will be eating quite well on the trail after all :)

Ok, back to my current experiments. The first meal I prepared this time around was macaroni salad. I used curly (spiral shaped) macaroni, vegenaise (vegan mayo), celery, bok choy, garlic, cilantro, curly parsley and dill. Can you say YUMMMMMMY?? After about 8 hours in the dehydrator at 135 degrees, I removed the dried salad and placed it into a ziploc bag. I tell ya – if this dish doesn’t spoil (and I don’t think it will), I may be the only person to reek of garlic on the trail :))

The second meal I prepared was rice – made with olive oil, curry powder, turmeric, cayenne pepper and a dash of salt – with a side dish consisting of eggplants, carrots, onions, garlic and parsley. The rice dish was in the dehydrator with the macaroni salad so it too dried for 8 hours. In all honesty, these meals taste better when dehydrated than they do just after I make them. Or it might just be that I get hungry at night (I turned the dehydrator off at 10pm).

I’m not sure about the caloric content of these meals in relation to their weight, but I'm almost certain that the ratio is close to 100(calories):1(ounce). Although eating calorically dense, hearty meals on the trail is most important to me, it is more important to consume nutritionally dense and tasty meals. I’m willing to lug a few extra ounces of food per day on the trail and look forward to dinnertime than stick to the ratio religiously and languish each time I open my bear canister.

Please don’t hesitate to comment! I would love to hear your thoughts, observations and even suggestions for recipes that work for you!

Bon appétit