Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Re-supply strategy and Maps

My re-supply strategy has deviated from my previous 2 thru-hikes. On the PCT and CDT I used my mom’s home in the L.A. area as headquarters and storage. The past 2 Aprils I sorted food, labeled boxes, organized gear, placed maps in appropriate boxes, and organized everything so my mom could send gear and food out to me as needed in an efficient manner. This March will be the Aprils of time passed as I will not be going to L.A. and using my mom’s house as a base. My winter job commitment at CME ends in early April so I will start hiking the AZT portion of the VL. Without having that extra month off to finalize prep and planning I will have to do most of it while working in the winter. Because of the burden and workload of both the trail and other responsibilities I’ve had to change my re-supply strategy within the Vagabond Loop. So, my main goal with my altered re-supply strategy is to grant me more flexibility so I can adapt to what is happening in front of me as it is happening.

****Note: I will insert more pics of family and friends and re-supply stuff****
****I am a horrible person as I mainly have pics of mountains and beautiful scenery****
****But I love this one of me, my granny and granpy****

With that previous thought in mind, and considering the VL is essentially 4 thru-hikes, I have to plan for each one individually and then use the end points of each trail as times of re-grouping, mailing out food packages, gear swaps, and rest. Also, with 3,500m to hike in extremely rugged, arid and challenging terrain, I essentially have a time frame or in other words I have certain time frames to hike each trail within a suitable season to promote a better chance at completion. Hence the earlier start and a different re-supply strategy.

I preface this next paragraph with thoughts of contentment in this new strategy because, from my experience, my past thru-hiking itineraries and plans changed immediately once I started walking in real-time on trail. I will spend March sorting and re-packaging food in P.O. Flat Rate boxes with certain re-supply points along the AZT. I will keep the same premise of providing myself with food variety along the trail by having about half of my re-supply points at in-town markets and the other half by P.O. packages. One week before my departure, with the date to be exactly determined as March moves along, I will send the P.O. packages to their respective outposts. I will have the packages spaced out enough on the AZT to include maps for every 200 miles or so. Also, I will be using the AZT Pocket Maps, in which Brett Tucker has put his expertise touch on, that I‘ve had printed out professionally.

This March I will be organizing my gear, maps, and other necessities for the Hayduke Trail in bigger boxes/bins so my buddy, Sweaty Z, can take to L.A. and drop off at my mom‘s. With the prep for the AZT done, all I got to do now is trek. And because I’ll have shipped along gear, maps and other items with Sweaty Z my mom and brother, Bert, will meet me at the western terminus of the HT with the provisions. I will spend a few days with them buying food, organizing and re-packaging food into boxes, placing maps (Andrew Skurka’s CD set) in appropriate boxes, and researching more about the new trail, especially water sources, I will be walking. Also, this will be a great time to re-connect with family after having not seeing them for some time. I plan on mailing food packages to almost every town stop on the HT as most towns are limited in market options. At the end of the HT is Moab where I have an intimate familiarity with the town. 

Moab is a perfect place to ship food packages from to potentially the one-stop option between Moab and Durango (the small town of Basin or the B&B of Bedrock) and the 2 drops I have for the Colorado Trail. Mostly along the CT I will be buying food in town at markets and such. I will not be using maps for the CT, though I will be using the CT Databook, as it is well marked and I have hiked most of the CT while on the CDT so I am very, very familiar with the route. The characteristics of the CT and the PCT are so similar in regards to being well-marked and knowledgeable to me that I will use a very similar navigating and re-supply strategy. Once I hit the eastern terminus of the CT near Denver I will then use this major city as of respite and healing, and food planning and shipping for my next VL segments.

The connection between Denver and Albuquerque is progressing along though I wouldn’t say nicely or horribly---I am treading water. From Denver to Salida, I will use NatGeo maps. In Salida, I will re-supply in town, then depart from the trail town and use a NatGeo map for the Sangre de Cristo traverse along the Rainbow Trail. The next gap is still a work in process, from the La Veta area to Red River. I will have to re-supply along this section at a P.O. as there is not much market options with the area being so remote. A food package will await me once I hit Red River which will enable me to get to Santa Fe. I will navigate Brett Tucker’s Northern New Mexico route through this area with NatGeo and Forest Service maps. As of now, I’d like to use Santa Fe as a re-supply/provision base for the GET. I’ve always enjoyed this city and it’ll be a good rest stop before my final leg of the VL.

The GET will be divvied up in half with food packages and in-town market stops. After Santa Fe, the VL will skirt high along the divide the large city of Albuquerque and end in the sprawled, large city of Phoenix. Thankfully, Brett Tucker has logged hundreds of hours mapping and planning the GET route to connect the gap between the 2 metropolises. I will have his maps professionally printed and sorted into appropriate food packages and about every 200m or so. The last half of the GET is mainly re-supplying in town so I will have the maps shipped to a couple of P.O’s.

After Santa Fe, the VL is all open spaces and all I got to do is stumble on in for the big finish. But before I wrap this entry up I have to briefly explain my Itinerary. I purposely left out ‘zero’ days on my hiking itinerary. I added rest days to my major re-supply stops and re-groupings like the ends of each trail. The reason I left off zero days was not to conform myself into being too rigid within a schedule. My personality will stay strict and driven if I had planned zero days. I tend to get bogged down in check-marks. So, I conservatively estimated mileage within sections and put my zeroes at the ends of the trails. Ultimately, I do not think it will change the timeframe I will trek the hike in. The more mileage I trek as the trail goes on then the more days I can afford off. However, I don’t want that confused with me striving to hike more mileage per day in order to feel rewarded with a day off. What I mean is that by not having days off scheduled it gives me the freedom and flexibility to take a day off as needed all the while feeling comfortable that as the trail goes along the better I’ll perform. For me, this is stress management which will alleviate my OCD quirks and lower my high expectations. Mainly, this strategy is building flexibility within my goals and will attain a balance in an extreme personality.