Journal Entries from the PCT

6/7

10am

Between Cajon Pass and Wrightwood. Town is 20 miles away. Feet are blistered and in pain, pack is causing major exhaustion, it must weigh over 50 pounds. Boots are rubbing foot raw, no room for toes and I think my feet swelled past their size. I have half a liter left.

2pm

Out of water. Dropped pack and waiting in shade, hoping a hiker will come along. Not currently dehydrated. 10 miles from known water source.

A hiker came by and saw my situation after half an hour. He introduced himself as 435 and gave me a liter of water. 435 may have saved my life.

6/8

Made it to the highway and hitched a ride into town with a couple of hikers named Rabbit and Squid. Trail angel Rich is housing me, says I can rest as long as I need. Will stay at least a night or two and let the feet heal.

 

6/9

Back on trail. Feet are better, still some blisters. Changing from boots to rope sandals to lessen pressure and allow feet to breath. Dropped about 10 pounds of weight in Wrightwood and I am definitely noticing the improvement. I think this will work out much better.

 

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Not exactly sure what day it is, phones are dead. I think it’s been four days in the wilderness. Feet are getting worse and worse. I’m taking it slow so as to not make things drastically worse. I just want to make it 7 miles today to reach water. Next resupply point is over 30 miles away. Moving at current pace, almost 2 miles per hour, I will run out of food the day before I get into town, perhaps sooner if I move slower or need more calories. I am oversupplied on water, since I ran dry I’ve been pretty paranoid about not having water. Taking 10-20 min. breaks every hour and keeping hydrated.

Made it to water. Making camp a mile up from it so I can get more before I leave out. The campsite has a fire pit and looks way more comfortable than any I’ve been at all week. Warm food soon. Rest for my poor feet. There is happiness to find in my misery.

6/14

Made it to Mill Creek fire station, met a group of hikers there. They saw me in pain, hobbling along at maybe 1 mph and told me there was a trail angel on the way to take them into Acton. I joined with them and met trail angel Mary, an incredibly generous woman who says she drives probably about 250 hikers per year, and mostly tries to help those that are sick or injured. Now I’m resting at the Acton KOA, soaking my tattered (but clean) feet in the pool.

6/15

Hooked up with a couple of hikers at the KOA and hitched to Agua Dulce. Now resting in Hiker Heaven, which is aptly named. I saw 435 again here and was sure to thank him profusely for saving me with that liter of water. I picked up a new hiking pack from the hiker box which probably weighs about 5 pounds less than my current military external frame pack. Also ditching boots and ordering trail runners. Blisters are healing, starting to walk normal again. Will stay here for a few days to rest, heal, organize, and plan. Getting lots of help from other hikers, everyone is so friendly. The people I have met on this journey have given me so much hope and inspiration. They want me to succeed at this as much as they want to themselves. Everyone helps everyone. Nobody is left out or left behind, even a beginner such as myself coming into it later than everyone else. I am excited to get back on the trail as soon as I have myself and my gear ready. In the meantime I am perfectly happy to relax on this beautiful California farm and commune with the amazing people who are around me.

A Detailed List of my Travel Gear

I have decided to compile and publish a list of all the gear I will be traveling with on the Pacific Crest Trail along with the total weight of the pack without consumables such as food and water. I have separated the gear into different kits for organizational purposes but obviously much of the gear is multi-use. The pack I’m using is a medium military issue ALICE style rucksack which employs an aluminum external frame to bear the load onto the wearer’s hips rather than their shoulders and back. This is heavier than most conventional hiking packs, however this system is extremely robust and reliable. It’s the same carrying system used by soldiers in the Vietnam war, so it’ll probably hold up to any abuse I can subject it to. Here’s the list of gear that will be in or on it:

Shelter and Sleep Kit

  • Bivy tent
  • Down sleeping bag
  • Cotton sleep bag liner
  • 9×9 plastic tarp
  • Folding foam sleep pad

Clothing Kit

  • Cold weather shell jacket
  • Thermal shirt
  • Merino wool liner gloves
  • Wool army issue gloves
  • Silk shirt & pants liners
  • Skin-tight base layer shirt & pants
  • Small cotton t-shirt
  • Breathable long sleeve shirt & pants
  • Cotton poncho
  • Small windbreaker/rain jacket
  • 4 pairs underwear
  • 4 pairs socks & liners

Main Outfit

  • Safari shirt
  • Cargo pants
  • Pocket vest
  • Belt
  • Boots/Sandals
  • 2 Buffs
  • Shemagh
  • Adjustable brim hat

Cooking Kit

  • Sterno stove
  • 2 canned fuel 7oz (4.5 hours burn time)
  • Metal canteen cup
  • Canteen stove (for backup)

Water Kit

  • 4 canteens (1 quart each)
  • Stainless steel bottle (1 liter)
  • Camelbak hydropack (1 liter)

Survival Kit

  • 2 4×4 gauze sponges
  • 15 bandaids
  • 3 ft gauze roll
  • Medical tape
  • Tweezers
  • Triple antibiotic
  • Burn gel
  • Sting relief pen
  • 2 antiseptic pads
  • 5 packets electrolyte tabs
  • 4 acetaminophen
  • 6 Excedrine
  • 6 anti-diarrhea
  • 10 Benadryl
  • Moleskin
  • Latex gloves
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Aspercreme
  • 6 cotton swabs
  • Tums
  • 6 AAA batteries
  • Waterproof matches
  • Duct tape
  • Iodine tabs
  • Lifestraw
  • Krazy glue
  • Emergency blanket
  • Signal mirror
  • Compass
  • Emergency plastic poncho
  • Mosquito head net
  • Red blinker light
  • Small reflective vest
  • Small funnel with strainer
  • Handkerchief
  • Folding saw
  • Small BIC lighter
  • Long refillable grill lighter

Sewing Kit

  • Needles
  • Thread
  • Wax
  • 6 Safety pins
  • Folding scissors
  • Thimble

Hygiene Kit

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Razor
  • Soaped paper
  • Wet wipes
  • Toilet paper

A few notes on the locations of these items and a few unlisted items:

  • Bivy tent, sleeping bag, and bag liner are all contained in the same compression sack, which is tied to the top of the pack. Also tied to the top of the pack is the rolled up tarp and the sleep pad.
  • All cold weather clothing is wrapped up in the shell jacket. All other clothing is kept in a plastic bag except for the cotton poncho, which is tied to the bottom of the pack.
  • Most survival items are contained in a first-aid kit bag kept in the middle fast-access pocket on the pack. Items that are not kept in that pocket are kept in the pocket vest such as the folding saw and the long grill lighter, and other items are clipped to the outside of the pack, such as the handkerchief, which I’ve sewn a hole into so I can clip it, the funnel strainer, and the head bug net.
  • Not listed is 2 PVC flutes, which are attached with gear ties to the frame of the backpack, and trekking poles which are either carried or stay in an area behind my back where I have room because of the metal frame.
  • In the pocket vest is extra cordage, flint and steel, extra matches, an extra handkerchief, tent stakes, the hygiene kit, gear ties, and any food I want at quick access.
  • Attached to paracord around my neck is a small knife with both a sharp and a serrated edge.

The entire pack loaded with all the gear excluding water and food totals 36 lbs, which is definitely on the heavier side. With water and food it may weigh up to 50 lbs or more. Ouch!
I’ve test hiked with it and it will definitely take some getting used to which will almost certainly involve a great deal of pain and blisters. However it does allow for a surprising amount of movement since it places all the weight on the lower half of my body. The shoulder straps literally just hold the pack close to my back, I don’t have to carry any weight on my shoulders or back. Also the external frame gives a lot of room near my back from the pack, which gives me nice airflow and the ability to wear my Camelbak with the pack. I can also slide my trekking poles in the cavity there and they stay pretty secure and easy to get to.

Not a bad setup. I think.

Why am I Doing This?

This question has come up a few times, so I wanted to write a post about why I’m doing what I’m doing and what I hope to get out of it. This is all about me but I believe many people can benefit from what I have to offer, so I want to explain why I’m thru-hiking the PCT, and also why I’m sharing this journey through this blog.
The first part of this is that I am on a journey already, and I haven’t even set foot on the trail yet. This is an inner journey as much as an outer journey, if not more so. I have recognized in myself a great deal of immaturity and egotism, and having faced this I find the reality of it unacceptable. Rather than coming at this from an angle of shame, I aim to pinpoint the areas that I am lacking in and draw attention to them so that I can determine the source of my egotism and address it directly. In this way I hope to gradually move further away from my egoist thinking and shift instead into awareness. Awareness of myself, who I am, what my weaknesses and strengths are, the world that I live in, the relationships I participate in, so on and so forth. The goal is truth, and in order to reach that I have to start being honest with myself, and in order to do that, I have to accept myself.

This is my goal.

Second to that is my desire to motivate others to do the same thing. I hope that in sharing my journey, it may give you some perspective into how many different ways there are to explore your own journey in life. I want people to question themselves, to explore possibilities not yet considered, and to always be moving forward in some way. I want to inspire them to create, destroy, live and breathe. I want them to ask themselves why they are in so much pain inside, and I want them to consider what role they’ve played in their own suffering.
Why do I want this? Because I did it and every day that passes I free myself of another aspect of my ego. I am learning how to use my mind instead of it using me. It isn’t easy and I would not have come to this on my own, so perhaps there are some who can benefit from my stories as I learn how to accept myself for who I am. You can do this too. You are not alone in your suffering. However, you do not have to continue suffering. You can be free. I cannot free you. But perhaps I can show the entrance to the path.

Also, I love nature and camping and hiking, I’ve been doing it for a while, and what better place to practice my survival skills and find beautiful landscapes than the Pacific Crest Trail? About 60 mountain ranges to traverse, 57% pure unadulterated wilderness, and little camping towns packed with like-minded people. So of course I want to share the wealth of pictures and stories I will have as I explore this amazing trail. No doubt I will have many difficulties, which I will share along with my triumphs and everything in between. I know some of you simply want to live precariously through someone else, and I would be happy to be your window into a life of adventure and travel. If someday you ever take it upon yourself to join in the fun, just remember me fondly as the one who showed you the way to this awesome path. If not, that’s okay too, I hope you enjoy my articles and pictures and videos. One side of my journey as well is learning to do away with my self-image. This is one reason why I like to share videos of me exploring music even when I’m not terribly good at it. The point isn’t whether the music is perfect or I look good doing it, the point is that I am on a journey of exploration, and this is where I start from. I will pick things up, practice them, and get better over time. You get to see this process in action, which may help you see that literally anyone can do it. That musical instrument you want to learn? Pick it up and make a noise. That language you want to speak? Start with one word. The world you want to explore? Take one step outside.

In the end, this is about me growing up. I have recognized that I am still a kid. I’m 25 and I know as much as a 25 year old knows. Not any more than that. When I am 60, I will know as much as a 60 year old, but for now, I am 25, and I have a LOT of growing up to do. I am going to embrace this and explore my potential. I hope you join me in this challenging, yet immensely rewarding journey.

What is the Pacific Crest Trail?

I mentioned in my last post, My Unfortunate Update that I would be abandoning my previous itinerary and instead bussing out to San Diego, where I will connect with the Pacific Crest Trail and start traveling north. You may not have heard of this before, so I thought I’d go into a bit more detail on what I’m planning on doing.

The Pacific Crest Trail is a system of paths through remote regions spanning from Mexico to Canada, going through California, Oregon, and Washington. The path is marked in places with official PCT trail markers, however there are numerous stretches in which the path is faint or nonexistent, so there will be a major degree of self navigating using maps and a compass.

 

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Not exactly a walk in the park

 

There are towns along the way but for the most part it’s fairly primitive. I’ll be collecting water from natural resources and purifying it, camping in unmaintained wilderness, and dealing with major changes in climate and weather. Everything I am bringing with me will need to fit in my medium sized external frame military backpack (ALICE style for those in the know).
There is extreme and potentially dangerous terrain in some places. I will be doing everything I can to avoid that but it’s bound to come up at some point. There are a lot of extremes that I will be dealing with, but it will all be worth it to be doing what I want to do. Also, from what I hear, the beauty of this trail is unmatched.

 

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Worth the hike, I’d say

Of course there are sure to be many challenges I have yet to consider, but I believe in the end everything will work out, and I will get to see some amazing things along the way. I will likely be starting this trip within this month, and I’ll be posing updates along the way. Remember that if you would like to support me in this endeavor, you can donate to me. Literally anything helps and will allow me to continue exploring the world and sharing its beauty. Also if you like my content please share it and tell people about me. I’ll be updating the blog later with a new Facebook page and YouTube account. Thanks for reading!

 

My Unfortunate Update

As so often happens in life, plans do not go as hoped, mistakes are made, and compromises must be reached. I have had such an experience with my bike tour that I was planning this summer. As I covered in My (super weird) bike setup, I got my bike second-hand from BICAS, a wonderful bike co-op in Tucson, AZ.
This bike was in okay condition, however the tires and brakes were definitely not suitable for a long term tour and the shifting system was too complicated for me as well.
In the end, the whole thing ended up being too complicated for me. I would like to preface this story by saying that I know I’m not always a clever man.

 

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This is what failure looks like

 

I won’t go into great detail here, but what basically ended up happening was that I would unscrew one thing, and ten things would fall off the bike, none of which I had any idea what purpose they served or the original order they were in. I would frantically consult YouTube hoping for anything that could help repair the damage I had done, but the more I tried, the worse it got. By the end of it I had a table chock full of random metal components and not a clue on what to do with any of it. It was definitely not one of my prouder moments.

At this point, I resolved to make one important change to my bike tour idea. I am not going to bring a bike along. So it’s not really a bike tour, it’s a hike tour now.
The reasoning for doing this is that I clearly do not have the expertise to maintain a bike as of right now, so using one as my main vehicle to travel the country would not be a smart idea. I can take classes at BICAS and learn everything I could ever need to know about bikes. I may very well do that when I return to Tucson, but the trip is not ending just because I don’t have a bike. I had planned for this contingency, and if anything I am a tiny bit relieved because walking incredible distances is one thing I have always excelled at. The itinerary is obviously going to have to change, as it would likely take about a year for me to walk that route. Instead I am going to head straight for California and walk up the Pacific Crest Trail (If you haven’t heard of it, look it up because it’s pretty amazing).

I would like to point out that while my attempt at fixing a bike was a complete failure, that does not constitute a failure in my travel plans in any way. I would suggest that having fluid plans is much better for things of this nature, as life can throw some really unexpected curveballs at very inopportune moments. Getting caught up in the details is a really good way to set yourself up for disappointment.

Also, as far as I can tell I’ll be leaving within a month. Since I’m not taking my bike, I pretty much have all the gear I need except a good pair of hiking boots and perhaps a few random sundries. Once I have my full kit together I’ll post that up here along with my checklist just in case anyone wants to see what gear I’m using.
Lastly, I hope this information is useful, or at least entertaining, to those who read it. My point in sharing this, aside from the fact that I enjoy it, is that I am sure others out there can relate to me in my endeavors. If that’s the case, I hope you learn from my mistakes and triumphs as I share them because I am absolutely certain that there will be many more of both in equal measure.

 

How to Stay Sane

I know for some more than others, it is a day to day ordeal just to manage the maelstrom that is our chaotically ordered, often baffling landscape of a mind. For me, this is especially true during times of my life in which my days are constricted to a schedule, as I usually fly by the seat of my pants when left to my own devices. In this particular moment in my life, I am working so that I can raise money for my upcoming travel tour. This means that not only am I contractually bound by the company I work for (currently Wal-Mart), but I am also bound by my own desire to go see the world. What this means for me is that I can’t just go do things on a whim, I must always be conscious of the fact that I have obligations to fill and I have to keep a structured life to have a reasonable chance of maintaining my current position.

For me, this is a major source of stress, and in an already incredibly overactive mind, stress and anxiety tends to exacerbate the problem into gargantuan proportions. Add in the fact that I’m an introvert in a society that demands my participation, and that I’m a wanderer that is bound to one place for the moment, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster if a day should go particularly wrong or I wake up in a bad mood.
This is why I have to have coping methods, and I keep many of them so that I’m always prepared. These are techniques that could be used by anybody that suffers from stress and/or anxiety. Here are a few of my most used methods.

  • Communing with Nature
    This is always my first step when I feel overwhelmed. On any regular day, a brisk walk among the trees and brush will rejuvenate me and leave me feeling brighter. When things get particularly rough, or if I just want to go into maximum relaxation mode, I’ll go to a park, find a place that’s fairly hidden, and set up my hammock and tarp to spend the whole day chilling and practicing various bushcraft and survival techniques. Nothing but the sun, the birds, and the shade to keep me company. You don’t have to go all out like I do. Taking a hike through the woods, watching ducks on a pond, or simply sitting on the grass in your back yard can often be enough to bring you back to a good head space.

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    Nature will heal what ails you.

  • Art
    Sure, you may not be Picasso, but nobody is asking you to be anyone but yourself. You can make art, no matter what you think. Just because you can’t draw doesn’t mean you can’t make cool stuff. There are all sorts of crafts out there that you can do that are super fun and you will surprise yourself with just how crafty you can be! I promise, I know what many of you are thinking because I used to think the same thing. ‘I’m just not an artistic person, I don’t have that type of talent’. As our president would say:
    Wrong!”
    I have never considered myself to be an artist and I never took a serious art class. I barely even looked at YouTube videos before I started. A friend of mine was doing art with little wooden shapes like flat squares or hearts, and she’d cover the wood with metallic tape like what they use in plumbing, and she used tools to engrave little patterns in it, or put tiny objects underneath the tape and then smoothed it down to make it look embossed. Then she’d dab a bit of alcohol ink on it and it all came together nicely. I tried this craft myself and this is one of the things I came up with. Try this, or take a look on YouTube and see what other crafters are doing. There is something out there for everybody so don’t give up!

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    This is one easy, fun way to make art.

     

  • Music
    You don’t have to be Mozart to make great music! Music is one of those fundamental things that unite all humans, as we all recognize and respond deeply to chords, rhythms, and melodies when we hear them. The wonderful thing about it is that you do not need ANY background in music to begin making music. There are a plethora of musical instruments that any beginner could pick up, learn the basics in a matter of minutes, and be playing simple tunes within the hour. After that, each day you do it you get better until before you know it, you’re jamming out as impressed onlookers stop and listen to your beautiful music. A few instruments that I know of that are good for beginners are Native American flutes, kalimbas, ukuleles, harmonicas, and hand drums. I personally love my NA flute collection and my kalimba, and I play them pretty much every day. Here is me playing my kalimba, and this is me on the flute. Sometimes I’ll bust out a little tune on my harmonica, especially when I’m on very long hikes. For most people I recommend the kalimba, and to lightweight travelers the NA flute and harmonica are easy to pack. Either way, get yourself a musical instrument. It will be one of the best decisions you ever make.

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    There’s music in you, and now is the time to let it out.

  • Philosophy
    Philosophy really works for so many things in life. When I’ve been depressed, philosophy has helped me out of the dark abyss, and when I have soared too close to the sun, it has helped guide me down before I fall. The world of philosophy is incredibly immense and complex, but most philosophies seem to boil down to the same content, much like in religion. It truly does wonders in soothing the overactive mind, as I often find myself thinking about life, death, and everything in between, and philosophy simply gives me the tools to think about these things constructively. I prefer Eastern philosophy, but only because it does the best job of helping me to cope with my depression. I have heard it said before that Zen is existentialism but happier, and I can see the truth in that. I would recommend starting with The Art of Peace, which one of my friends who is an anthropologist said that one could base their entire philosophy upon that book and live a pretty good life. I think that’s true but it’s definitely worth it to delve as deep into it as you can. Søren Kierkegaard is excellent for a dark day, and Plato’s Republic helped me consider the way our society is set up in a whole new way. Also there are some good videos on YouTube from the School of Life which gives great basic rundowns on different philosophers.

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    Infinite wisdom that fits in your pocket

    These are just a few ways that I keep myself afloat in this crazy world. There is of course a lot that I’m leaving out, such as reading, being active, eating well, and socializing with loved ones, but perhaps I will cover those subjects in a later article. I hope that I can inspire someone who also deals with these issues to find better coping techniques, because there are many and you don’t have to choose between doping yourself up with pills or suffering. That’s just my take on it, I try to do everything I can to keep from having to take pills. I tend to choose natural remedies first before resorting to pharmaceuticals. That’s also no judgement on people who do take meds, and I believe those people can benefit from these activities as well.
    In summation, do what makes you happy, explore all the options, and most of all, HAVE FUN WITH IT!

     

My (super weird) bike setup

I covered in my last article, How Does a Broke Person Travel, how one can travel on an extreme budget, however, I did not cover how one obtains a vehicle for traveling. You can walk, of course, in which case the only real investment you’d need to put in would be high quality hiking boots. I chose to use a bicycle, which requires a few additional things. You need tools and spare parts, as well as pannier bags or a trailer unless you plan on carrying a backpack on your ride. You can use any bike you’d like, but a touring bike is a definite plus, and I chanced upon an amazing deal at my local bike co-op, BICAS.

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I spent a couple hundred bucks on this, which is great considering that most touring bikes cost up to a thousand dollars or more. The wheels and the inner tubes are secondhand from BICAS, as is the back rack, bottle holders, and handlebar tape. The total sum of every bike accessory I got there most likely doesn’t even total $30. Try finding just one good tire for that price. The front rack was from Amazon, as were my Sunrace friction shifters. I switched from STI brake lever shifters to friction shifters because they are WAAAAYYY cheaper (the set of two cost $12), and are incredibly simple comparatively. My rear shifter is actually broken in half from a wipe-out, so I have electrical tape holding it together. Still shifts like a dream!

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As you can see, it’s not an aesthetically pleasing setup, but it does work. The top bars are crowded by the shifting cables a bit, but I mostly stay on the outside near the hoods anyway so they don’t bother me much. This angle also gives a great look at the state of my bar tape. Being that I am broke, I’ve had to improvise this setup for the most part based on what I could afford. Both the handlebar tape and the electrical tape holding it on has had several lives, enduring the hard abuse I’ve subjected it to as I’ve changed my setup time and time again. Here’s a closer look: WP_20170329_16_04_49_Pro It certainly looks like it could fall apart at any moment, but it’s perfectly comfortable.

So you can probably see that being poor doesn’t stop me from getting what I need to go on an adventure. After all, if you argue for your limitations, they’re yours. Aside from that, when you live on less, it helps you to exercise your creativity and resourcefulness. I’ve run into many obstacles along the way, but I always find my way through, almost like magic. Just when I think all hope is lost, a solution makes itself clear. This isn’t magic, though, it’s human nature. We thrive on challenge, we excel at problem-solving, and we are made to see and use patterns to our advantage. I believe that immersing yourself in nature and living a life of adventure will unlock these features in your mind, because it is what you, I, and every other person on this Earth is made for. These miraculous abilities have become stifled and dulled in our modern society, however the positive side to this is that it took hundreds, if not thousands, of years to stifle these qualities in humans collectively. Individually, you can reawaken these qualities in yourself in just a minute, by going outside and communing with nature.

How Does a Broke Person Travel?

The answer to the question is actually simple: you travel broke!

Of course, this option sounds like a nightmare to most people, but it’s the method I’m using to travel across the country. Thing is, most of us would assume that if we were to set out on a moneyless adventure, we’d end up in a ditch somewhere starving to death in misery and destitution. The problem with that thought is that it isn’t true, especially here in America. Your main two concerns will be lodging and food. Both of these are easier to manage than you may have thought.

The first thing you may worry about lodging. On this subject, I’d like you to imagine a tribe of nomads wandering through the Sahara desert. Now I’d like you to imagine the look on their faces when one of their tribesmen says “Can we stay at a Motel 8 tonight?”

Obviously they would balk at the idea, because a tribe of nomads would likely understand mountains, rivers, lakes, and woodlands, and they would have understood that our evolutionary features are meant to tango with these geological features. Knowing this will show you that many of our modern amenities are not necessary. If you have a tent, sleeping bag and mat, proper clothing for layering, and just a little know-how, you will never have to worry about where you sleep. Of course, you’ll be cold sometimes, or wet, or otherwise affected in such a way that you will be miserable. However, if you are properly prepared, you will live and learn from the experience. As far as the law goes, I camp wherever I want, in the open or hidden, regardless of arbitrary rules and regs, and I have not once been bothered about it. I also keep a minimal presence, don’t start fires when I’m stealth camping, and I Leave No Trace, so that’s probably gone a long way in helping me.

As far as gear goes, you will need to spend some money on this unless you can trade for or scavenge supplies well enough. You need a shelter, sleeping bag and mat, and proper clothing at the least. I worked in call centers and Walmart for several months to afford these items. You can find work almost everywhere and if you aren’t finding it then you aren’t looking. You can clean a toilet or flip a burger, it won’t kill you and you aren’t a “slave to corporate America” if you are using the system to become free of the system. Corporate America becomes your slave at this point because it no longer owns you. The moment you decide to become self-sufficient and live off the land, you have taken the biggest step forward in freeing yourself from the binds of our modern society.

Finally, food. That’s an important thing, to stay properly fueled as you travel. You’d think that you’d need money for food, but you’re probably forgetting that America is the land of waste, where good food is thrown out by the bucketful. A lot of people look down on this, but I will be the first to tell you that you can have a great quality diet consisting of healthy, delicious foods, and you don’t have to pay a dime for it. So how to do this? Simple: find a Trader Joes, wait for a good time when nobody is watching (remember you aren’t the only one who does this so don’t ruin it for the rest of us with your carelessness), then jump in their dumpster and find all that good food that has past the expiration date but is still perfectly good to eat.

When you are in the wild, you may have to subsist on much less, not because food isn’t plentiful, but because you may not know how to find edible plants and wildlife. First of all, you won’t starve. Going hungry for a few nights or even a whole week does not constitute as starving. Additionally, being kind of hungry actually does some cool things to you. Your mind clears, your body adapts and begins to conserve energy better, and you begin to see colors differently. This change in perception is nature’s defense against starvation, as you can now distinguish, mostly from instinct, what plants around you are edible. Of course you should still not eat wild plants without some idea of what you’re doing. As Terry Pratchett said, “All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once.”

If things ever get really tough and you’re in a survival situation, and you can’t identify edible plants, just remember that most insects are edible. Avoid weird or bright colors, which may indicate toxicity, and avoid spiders. Otherwise, if you carefully over turn rocks and logs, collect a fair amount of beetles, grubs, and other creepy-crawlies, then fry them up in oil with some salt and cayenne pepper, and you’ve got yourself a nutrient rich meal packed with protein. You may be making faces at this thought right now, but if you find yourself in this situation, you need to overcome your sensitivity right away if you stand a chance. When it comes to survival you have only two choices available to you: adapt or die.

I will have more insights to come as I delve into this lifestyle and learn more about it. So far it has provided me with a level of wisdom and freedom I had not yet imagined. I know that this is the right path for me, and if you feel these ideas inciting wanderlust and adventure seeking in yourself, then perhaps you are a fellow gypsy like me. If you think you can’t do this, you’re wrong. Throw away your worldly possessions and join me under the vast blue sky in this big, beautiful world. I promise you won’t regret it.

Bike Tour Itinerary

I’ve just figured up a rough outline of the route I’ll be taking on my tour, the distances involved, and how long it will take. The route itself is based off of Google Maps searches, so my actual route will almost certainly be somewhat different, but I am hoping to hit all the destinations listed. The times vary quite a bit based on average distance traveled daily, weather conditions, and personal preferences. I’ve figured that I would ride approximately 30 to 60 miles a day.

After figuring it all up, I can see that this is even more daunting than I had thought previously. The distance totals to over five thousand miles, and the time it will take could be up to 5 months or more. The terrain is not easy and the roads are not all made especially for bikes. This is a big trip. However, I am not deterred in any way. If anything, I can see that this is a worthy challenge for me to undertake, be it grueling, treacherous, or frightening. This is a part of the 80/20 rule. Adventure cycling is 20% physical and 80% mental. If I can get past the mental obstacles in my way, I think I’ll find that the physical challenge is more bearable than I had anticipated.

Departure                 Destination               Distance   ETA
Tucson, AZ                Phoenix, AZ              117 mi      2-4 days
Phoenix, AZ              Los Angeles, CA       412 mi      6-14 days
Los Angeles, CA       San Francisco           450 mi     8-15 days
San Francisco, CA   Portland, OR             711 mi     11-24 days
Portland, OR             Seattle, WA              194 mi      3-6 days
Seattle, WA               Missoula, MT           563 mi      9-13 days
Missoula, MT            Billings, MT             348 mi      6-12 days
Billings, MT              Yellowstone, WY     350 mi     6-12 days
Yellowstone, WY     Salt Lake City, UT   365 mi      6-12 days
Salt Lake City           Boulder, CO             494 mi      8-16 days
Boulder, CO              Denver, CO               30 mi        1 day
Denver, CO               Colorado Springs    86 mi         1-3 days
Colorado Springs    Grand Canyon         609 mi       10-20 days
Grand Canyon, AZ  Flagstaff, AZ             89 mi        1-3 days
Flagstaff, AZ             Tucson, AZ               276 mi       4-9 days
Total Distance      Total Time
5094 mi        82-154 days

Current Status

As of now, it is almost April of 2017, and I plan on leaving for my tour within the next month or two. In this time, I need to raise enough money to support myself, obtain all the gear needed to survive, and plan out my trip as much as possible. I’ve been practicing my knot tying and tarp setup skills, as well as testing all new gear I get to make sure it will stand up to my standards for when I’m remote camping and can’t get to a town readily.

So far, I have some good gear. I’ve got an excellent military style hiking backpack which holds an amazing amount of stuff (pictured below). Inside there is a camo tarp, a bivy tent, a hammock setup, and some other gear and sundries. I have a good selection of knives and a solid hatchet, but I do need a whetstone and a honing steel. Other things I need are:

  • An actual camp shovel (the plastic trowel is next to useless in the baked desert sand)
  • A folding saw
  • A camp stove that can use gasoline and other easy to find fuel sources
  • An emergency pop-up shelter
  • An emergency radio transmitter and receiver
  • Probably should replace my cheap plastic tarp with a nylon tarpaulin
  • More rope and paracord
  • A water reservoir that can hold at least one gallon

I am absolutely sure that is not a complete list, but for now that seems to be the most important gear I need before I set out. I can always use suggestions for gear such as what to take and which manufacturers to buy from. Once I have a full list of all my gear I’ll post that with pictures to show my entire setup off and on the bike. Perhaps if I do this someone who knows more than me can come along and give me some good pointers. I’ve never done anything like this so I expect to have plenty of room for improvement!

backpack