Q & A

I’ve decided to set up this page (thanks to Sarah’s suggestion), for people to ask questions (preferably hiking related) ๐Ÿ™‚ and for me to provide responses; so the information is contained on one page rather than spread out over different posts throughout the blog.

I will try to respond to all questions, even though there may be some delay, I will try and get back to you as quickly as possible.

It would be great if you could put the topic of the question first in BOLD LETTERS so people can easily identify the subject, eg, FOOD: Can you still stomach oatmeal? Haha, etc etc.

I’ve been told there’s no such thing as a dumb question… although I’m pretty sure I had about 1000 of them when I was planning my hike. So don’t be shy, let the flood gates open!

165 thoughts on “Q & A

    • Will cover this in my gear review coming soon! As for how I picked it… I read all different tent brands in Yogi’s guide and simply looked at the pictures online to find a shape I thought looked good. I then watched the videos of how you set it up to find the easiest one out there. I also didn’t like the idea of using a hiking pole to hold up the tent. Yes everything should have two uses, but how do you fend off mountain lions when your pole is holding up your tent? ๐Ÿ™‚

      • LOL. No one ever thinks about those mountain lions when counting grams! I still get shivers when i think about your video with those eyes glaring at you in the night.

  1. GEAR…was there any item that you did not have on the PCT that you would definitely carry with you on your next long hike, if it were available in a lighter/less expensive form?

    • I sent home my very lightweight Marmot windbreaker because I had my blue hiking shirt and didn’t want to carry both. I thought about my windbreaker everyday with regret. It would have been perfect in Washington and Oregon for that matter. I was always thinking about things to get rid off, not add. If I didn’t keep a blog I would have taken a book.

  2. Have enjoyed watching and reading along with your journey!

    Please discuss your original food plan and how the meals you ate changed as the hike progressed. Talk about topics such as what you had sent to eat in your resupply boxes and what you would send now if you did the hike again. Meal ideas (cooked and not cooked). What food ideas did you see other hikers use that you would adopt? Any advice for changing up meals over the trip so it would be easier to keep things (meals) interesting? Also, how often did you hang or secure your food outside of the bear canister sections?

    • Hey Mark, I should have limited each person to one question! Haha! These are very good questions actually. Ok, so all of the food I sent originally is on my food page. I was happy with this for at least three months. Keep in mind though I never once counted calories and as a result I lost quite a lot of weight. The big thing I changed with dinners was only taking things I could just add water to. I used to cook the pasta and mac and cheese in my pot but I got way too lazy for this and washing the pot became annoying. It also gave off more cooking smell than just adding water to cous cous or minute rice or ramen. I had the same food until Washington when the amazing Brooke prepared my meals for me (Brooke feel free to jump in with your recipes). Every hiker has different meals. Some solely eat pre-packaged foods like Mountain House but these are mega expensive for a 5 month trip. Dehydrated beans worked really well to make burritos and were very light. I would take more fresh food out of town like a banana or apples for the first few days. Mix up tortillas with bagels for lunch etc. I only hung food once, in most places I slept with my food in my tent like the majority of hikers. If I was worried about bears outside of the bear can zone I put my OPSak (Odor-proof sack) under some rocks away from my tent. I would pre-make my meals again for CA and then change it up a little for OR and WA, or pre-make with that strategy already in mind. You also learn from the people around you. Plus you can swap meals in most hiker boxes. Some people resupply their entire trip from these boxes. I wouldn’t recommend it but in some places it can be done!

  3. GEAR – Noticed you added a poncho to your rain gear the last week in WA. Did your rain jacket and pants wet out? I’m looking for new rain gear that actually will work in heavy wet conditions. Care to recommend any brands, or any brands to definitely avoid?

    • I didn’t have a rain jacket for the last two days and took a poncho instead. Not recommended. My rain gear was very cheap, my original rain pants cost $5 and I borrowed my rain jacket from my mum. I would spend decent money on a nice light rain jacket and less on rain pants, as long as you plan to be done by mid September. You’ll need good rain pants if you’re hiking in snow.

  4. 1. SPOT vs. DeLORME inREACH – we all noticed when your Spot didn’t send out your updates in that final stretch. Did you run across anyone who was using the DeLorme inReach, and if so, do you think that is a better choice?
    2. STOVE – Did you have any issues using an alcohol stove (the Caldera) in any areas (such as fire restrictions), and overall, did you prefer an alcohol stove over one using a canister?
    3. GEAR ENVY – Are there notable items of gear you saw that others were using, that you would have preferred over what you were using?
    4. ZEROES – In hindsight, what do you think about your approach to zeroes and town stops, and would you make changes in that if you had it to do over?

    • 1. Never saw or have heard of the other device.
      2. I loved the Caldera alcohol stove. I will share more in my gear review.
      3. I sometimes wished I had the Thermarest Neo Air blow up sleeping mat, but other than that I loved what I had.
      4. Zeros = money. I blew my budget on zeros but I also enjoyed my town stops. If you are on a tight budget then neros are more cost effective.

      • I noticed you had your spot hanging from your pack. I clip mine on the top of my shoulder strap since it transmits up to the sky from the large flat surface opposite the clip (thus pointing straight up in in my situation). Is this something you were aware of? I wondered if that was why your spots were spotty. ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, did you signal with your Spot when it was inside your tent in the mountain lion situation? If so, I’m surprised and pleased to hear that it worked since it had to go through your tent walls. My understanding is that it needs (for the most part) a clear shot to the sky. My Spot Connect (using the iPhone interface via bluetooth) works perfect using this method except when under heavy tree cover. Also, I learned the hard way to ALWAYS use lithium batteries as they have a little more “umpf” to get the signal through. I went with cheaper non-lithium not knowing this once and it didn’t work at all. The good thing about lithium batteries is that they are a lot lighter than standard ones.


      • At the Canadian border I laid my SPOT flat facing the sky on the monument and it still didn’t go through. It did work through my tent walls during the mountain lion incident (except when I tried to cancel it), so yes you can say it was spotty and I can’t really say why. Didn’t know that lithium batteries worked that much better so thanks for sharing!

  5. EXPERIENCE – You mentioned in one blog that if you could, you would have done some things differently…what were those things?

    FOOD – What changes did you make from the time you left Campo to Monument 78?

    GEAR – Like the comments above, I’m really curious about gear too. I like fenu’s question too. Mine would be…what is one luxury item you couldn’t live without? And I can’t wait to see your gear review!

    RESUPPLIES – Were there any resupply towns you would have skipped if you had known? And on the flip side…is there one resupply town you wish you had stayed in longer or were happy you did?

    Sorry for so many questions! Thank you for setting this up!

    • 1. I’m going to write a whole page on this exact question so stay tuned.
      2. I hope I answered this previously.
      3. Depends what you call a luxury item. My iPhone probably! Gear review to come!
      4. Love this one! Would have skipped VVR as I didn’t really need to go there and it was a boat ride away. Didn’t plan to go to Lone Pine but loved it! Idyllwild, Sierra City, Etna, Ashland, Shelter Cove, Trout Lake and Stehekin are all amazing places for a zero. It really depends on an individual’s experience of a town though. I should have sent a package to Tuolumne Meadows and not carried 10 days from Mammoth Lakes to South Lake Tahoe. I would actually resupply more often and nero more rather than go for longer stretches and zero so often!

  6. Electronics – What did\does your blogging setup consist of? What were your mapping apps? What type of solar charger did you use? Did you have issues with battery life? Did you carry any type of paper maps or trail notes?

    Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!

    PS. You are working hard to do this. I would suggest continuing to encourage people to donate to the cause of their choice, or to help offset any expenses you might incur for doing all of this!

    • WordPress is free until you start adding features like VideoPress ($50) to upload videos. Then they started adding ads to my videos so I needed to pay another fee (approx $30) for them not to. Then I bought the domain http://www.mexicotocanada2013.com (approx $20). Then I think I needed to pay another $20 to add another 10gb of upload space. So it definitely wasn’t cheap. What cost the most was my AT&T SIM card as I always went over my data limit (too many videos I guess!)
      Mapping apps were Halfmile and Guthooks (I will review them soon). Solar panel was Suntactics sCharger 5 – best ever!! No issues with battery life but had an external battery in OR and WA when there is limited sun. No paper maps but had them downloaded as PDFs on my PCTHYOH app. I carried Yogi’s trail notes. I carried the data book notes but never used them. I also carried a printed water report in SoCal! ๐Ÿ™‚

    My husband & I hope to spend an entire summer offering Traveling Trail Magic sometime in the next few years. We plan to start in April at Campo and move north as the hikers do. In order to be most effective and to plan our locations wisely
    My question would beโ€ฆ
    Can you name the most important locations where you received trail magic?
    Perhapes more importantlyโ€ฆ
    Where you truely wished or needed some and found none ?

    • Walker Pass, CA, was the best we came across! Needed water badly there but ice cream and pancakes were a bonus! I missed trail magic at Sonora Pass, CA, and was terribly sad! There is lots of trail magic in SoCal but practically nothing in the Sierras and then it dies off in Oregon and Washington (although it’s still there, just less frequent). I can’t remember the name of most of the passes but there’s a Visitor Centre on a hwy about 17 miles south of South Lake Tahoe. That could be a good spot. For those that don’t go into Ashland, OR, the road crossing near there could be good. Near Trout Lake, WA, would be good as it’s a hard hitch down to town and not many stop there either. No hiker expects trail magic, and if you do it’s never there, so anywhere that is easy to get to by car would be a dream to a thru hiker. Hikers love to drop off their trash, grab a soda, beer, cold water or Gatorade and maybe a quick snack of fresh fruit, bag of chips or if you’re able to provide, a fresh sandwich. BBQ’s are like heaven, but that’s more like a 5 star trail magic experience. I think a hug and some encouraging words can be just as good! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Okay,,, I may be challenging the “no stupid question” theory, but,,,, considering you were using your Caldera Caddy for your bowl and cup, what was your practice of getting and keeping your cooknig implements clean and santitary with essentially non stop use?

    • Good question. As I’ve said since I’ve been back, your standards of ‘clean’ are very different on trail. My method was to boil a little extra water in my pot to use to clean my cup and ‘bowl’ after dinner. It’s gross but I would sometimes just swirl hot water in my cup, then tip it into the bowl for the initial rinse. Then I would use any extra water for the final rinse depending how dirty the caddy was. If you’re near a stream or water source you can just use that as a third rinse if necessary. When I cooked in my pot I took a little sponge to clean with. It worked well and I would recommend at least a little cloth. But by the end I swirled water in the caddy with my spoon inside to scrape off any food from the sides and then just tipped the water into a bush. I never used soap of any kind, not necessary! The other trick (if the caddy was very dirty) was to use a wet wipe.

    • Good question!! I looked it up on the PCTA website and everyone seemed to think it was a cruel thing to do. Their feet get so hot in the desert that they need to wear booties and dogs just don’t understand the purpose of a thru hike. They don’t get to celebrate the half way mark like humans do. To them it’s just more walking. I would have thought dogs would LOVE walking so much, but apparently we’re a lot tougher than they are when it comes to thru hiking. There are some places dogs are not allowed too. There was a couple with two huskies this year. I have no idea if they finished but it looked like a lot of work. Shorter trips might be better. I hindsight I’m glad I only had to look after myself, but I still want a dog now!!

      • Muk I would like to add to this, I hope you don’t mind.

        Most domestic dogs can not handle carrying there own food let a lone their own water. Dogs also drink and eat a LOT more on a trail (walking all day) then they do at home. Some estimates I have seen is up to 10 times as much. Most dogs would only get hurt with that kind of weight. So that means that you would have to carry that weight. Water can be a BIG issue in SO-CA.

        Dogs are not allowed in any of the National Parks, so the Sierras and parts of OR and WA would be off limit.

        Again it would greatly depend on the dog, but max mileage would be about 10 to 15 per day, this would make the hike even longer.

        There are some breeds, actually not really a breed, but a type of Dog, like Alaskan Pack Dogs, that are actually breed and raised to carry loads, but even this kind of dog would have a VERY hard time walking 20 miles a day non stop for months on end. Zeros not withstanding.

        Then there is what you are doing to the dog psychically, joint problems, feet problems, back issues, arthritis, etc. I would love to take a dog on short hikes, max about a week, but never something like a thru hike. I think it would be close to cruel and unusual punishment for the dog.

        OK off my high horse and back to Muk Muk. ๐Ÿ˜€

  9. I’m so excited that you took my suggestion for the Q&A (and thanks for the credit)!!! Here are my questions:
    FEET: I know your feet took a beating the whole trip, how are they now? are they completely back to normal or possibly forever changed?
    VIDEOS/BLOGGING: Did you use a specific app to edit and post your videos? And what did you use to type up your blog while on the trail?

    I have tons more questions, but will just ask those for now!

    • Feet: I think my feet are still bigger but I have no blisters and my calluses are basically gone. I have a weird bulge on my right foot on the right side near my little toe that started hurting at the end of the trip but it doesn’t seem to be an issue. The bottoms of my feet are sore but this is typical for any thru hiker. Your whole body including feet hurt more when you stop hiking because your brain finally allows these pain messages in.

      Videos: I used the WordPress blog to type my blog posts on my iPhone. Yes I’ve got very good at typing on my phone! You need to pay for VideoPress to upload videos through WordPress but it’s very easy. Just need good signal or wifi!

      Great suggestion for the Q&A but I may have just created a lot of work for myself! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Thanks for taking the time to answer all these questions. I’m not sure if I will ever get the opportunity to hike the PCT, but at least for now I can live it through your blog!

  10. FEET/SHOES: I am the blister queen. Which shoes did you find finally worked the best and what sizing adjustments did you make if any? (I want to do a huge section and my feet are a big concern for me.)

    • Brooks Cascadia men’s shoes were the BEST! They have a wide toe box and were just perfect for my feet. I think I was a size 7 and ended up wearing a men’s 9.5 shoe. I would recommend at least 2 sizes bigger. Feels weird at the start but you get used to it! Cascadias were the most common shoe on trail! Socks are as important though. Merino wool socks are TOO HOT in the desert. A thinner running sock may have been better. I loved the dry max socks but they get holes in them very quickly!

  11. ANIMALS: Other than the terrifying night with the mountain lion(s?) and the video you showed where there was a baby bear hanging on the tree, did you have many other bear or other (non-deer/elk) animal sightings/encounters?

    GENERAL SAFETY: Did you carry any sort of personal protection like mace/bear spray/knife or anything? And did you ever feel unsafe around on the trail or while hitchhiking?

    • Animals: Saw a few other bears, one in Yosemite and one somewhere in NorCal I think but they ran off pretty quick. It’s fun when you do get to see these types of animals, but in all honesty, there was a lot less wildlife than I expected. I saw a fox near Cajon Pass, but other than that expect lots of marmots in the mountains and squirrel type animals along the way. Oh and don’t forget the snakes hehe! I only saw maybe 3 rattle snakes in all.

      Safety: Never felt unsafe on trail except maybe once when I saw a solo dude hiking on his own midweek who definitely wasn’t a thru hiker. Just got a weird vibe but all was fine. It’s more creepy when the trail blends with the real world across highways etc but I never felt the need for mace etc. I’m pretty laid back though, so others may beg to differ. The trail community is very strong. You shouldn’t have any issues with other thru hikers. If anyone acts inappropriately you’ll hear about it thru the trail vine (I think I just made up a new trail term!!)

      • I hate to ask, because I know how terrifying the mountain lion encounter was, but did anyone ever offer up their opinion of your encounter? Is that typical behavior to have such a close encounter with an animal like that, which went on for hours? Sorry, but they are probably the number one fear i have of being in the wilderness and I’ve often wondered since watching your videos if maybe the animal was exhibiting atypical behavior.

      • As far as I’ve heard this is not really typical behaviour but it’s more common for them to be seen in the dusk and evening rather than the day. I only heard of maybe 10 people out of all the hikers on trail who actually ‘saw’ a mountain lion. I think mine was a very rare encounter. The chance of attack is so incredibly low that your fear shouldn’t stop you from your love of the wilderness. Even though I had this encounter and it definitely shook me, I was determined not to let my fear affect the rest of my hike.

      • Re; opinions on the mountain lion encounter — many were posted on the PCT-l (look at the July archives for the many posts with “mountain lion” in the topic title] including this one from Shroomer, who mentioned possibilities of a mother and cub or a habituated lion. Atypical – yes, but unheard of – no.
        Some of the discussion noted the fact that Anish (who set a new record for fastest unsupported hike) reported being stalked for some time in the same area as Muk Muk. Someone also posted this link to an account of an encounter that lasted for 5 miles and about 1-1/2 hours: http://alpine-works.com/2011/09/a-day-in-wonderland/.

        [Excuse the intrusion on your Q&A, Muk Muk, and delete if you want]

    • This gave me a good chuckle! I need to work on my accent but I was thinking of challenging Reece Witherspoon on playing the role of Cheryl! If you can track down the producers, put in a good word for me! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • All of the phone/email contacts for production personnel are available through http://www.IMDb.com (internet movie data base) all one has to do is go there, search on the movie title or Director’s name (Jean-Marc Vallee), and follow the link to Fox-Searchlight (the production company) You would have to sign up for a free trial for their IMDb-Pro service to get to the page that has the contact info. OR, you could just go to Ashland on Oct. 22, where they will be filming at the P.O. The more practical way of looking at the coming media-storm surrounding the PCT is that those hikers who write a really good book about their trip and get it published close to the time of the movie’s release will almost certainly enjoy great financial success. The really bad news for the PCT and all of the SAR folks along the Trail is that if the movie is a great success, the PCT will be totally inundated, much as the AT was right after that horrible book by the man who didn’t even hike the whole Trail. IMHO, 2014 may be the last year for quite awhile to hike the PCT without literally thousands of people surrounding one.


    I just wanted to thank you for your extremely insitefull answers to my trail magic location question !
    You always go above and beyond~every time.

    We know the Sierras like the back of our hand and plan to set up as many locations there as possible. The other suggestions will help ALOT too.

    What a joy it would have been to meet you early on the trail and then again and again as you made your way north.

    I would have hugs and cold beer ready and waiting. Ohโ€ฆand pancakes !

  13. Muk Muk, Two questions: 1) When you come back to hike the CDT (and blog about it!), what would you change in your first aid kit given your PCT experience? 2) When you come back to hike the AT (and blog about it!), what would you change in your repair kit given your PCT experience? You know, you could become the first Australian Triple Crowner (to blog about it!) Looking forward to your gear review! Thanks for your time and insights, Codger

    • My first aid kit was my biggest challenge as I always carried things I didn’t need like moleskin and band aids even after I stopped getting blisters. Some people literally just carry duct tape on their poles and maybe some antiseptic cream like neosporin. I would take a needle to pop blisters, alcohol swabs to clean wounds, some moleskin, neosporin and sports tape or duct tape. Regular bandaids always fall off. I tend to take more than I need, but start with what makes you comfortable and then get rid of things if you never use them. This is something you will adjust your entire trip if you’re anything like me. I also took cream for poison oak when I was in those areas but never needed it luckily! I’m not exactly sure what you mean by a repair kit as I don’t believe I had one.

  14. Charging stuff w/solar …. you wrote “Solar panel was Suntactics sCharger 5 โ€“ best ever!! No issues with battery life but had an external battery in OR and WA when there is limited sun.: In the Sierras and in Or/Wa, did you try to charge w/ your panel only while on the trail (hiking or on breaks), and if so, how did it do? In other words, how necessary was your battery pack (what was brand/model) in each of those 3 areas? My feedback on Suntactics is that it pushes more power and faster. Yes? I’m looking at replacing my Goal Zero 3.5 and using the Suntactics 5 w/ the Switch 8 battery. And thanks so much for all your feedback. Fine job!

    • I used my phone a lot so I needed the external battery (X5 mobile extra) in OR and WA because of the lack of sun and shade. The Sierras were fine just charging straight from the panel. I am in the middle of my gear review so if you still have questions after I publish that please let me know!

  15. I haven’t seen any comment about pack weight. Can you guess what the heaviest you had to bear was? I see so many people geek out over grams of weight shaved but at some point those grams vs. comfort and safety start looking awfully petty!

    • I’ve never been one to know how much my gear weighs but I know my pack weighed 45 pounds when I left Mammoth Lakes with 10 days of food and a bear can. It probably got up to a similar weight in the desert when carrying a maximum of 6L of water too!

  16. How did your Dirty Girl gaiters work out for you? I’m constantly getting stones in my shoes. Did they help with that? When did you finally stop using them?

    • They worked perfectly for the stones that sneak in the tops of your shoes. You’ll still get dirt in your shoes especially around your toes but I think wearing the Dirty Girls even helped reduce my blisters. I stopped wearing them in WA when it was so wet they were just soaked all the time and the trail was so wet there was no dust and less stones flicking up off the ground! I needed long waterproof gaiters when I hit the snow. I used the OR brand.

  17. Hi Muk Muk!
    PCT blog stalker here ๐Ÿ™‚ LOVED reading/watching your journey and was so amazed at your strength throughout the entire trip! GO GIRL! It was definitely my favorite and the most entertaining blog (IMHO) of 2013!
    HYGIENE: If been car camping my whole life, and backpacking a handful of times, and female hygiene always seems to be tricky. I guess I’m curious as to how other people handle that “dreaded week”, and for 5-6 months of it! I usually get lucky and can schedule around that time. Did you carry wet wipes the whole trip? Bronner’s Soap? I guess over that much time w/o proper facilities you figure out what works best for YOU. How often did you wash your clothes? Only in town stops? Rinse in streams? Hope this isn’t too personal, if so that’s fine!
    THanks so much for doing the Q&A, I’ve had a BLAST living the trail life vicariously through you!! I hope one day to join the PCT through hike club โค
    All the Best,

    • This was a big question for me too. Ok the dreaded week: I used a Diva Cup and would recommend it after a few good months of testing. Hand sanitizer is a must, used wet wipes the whole trail when I needed more than my pee bandana, and for Diva Cup cleaning I would just use a bottle of my filtered water for rinsing. It honestly wasn’t as bad as you think. Was it regular? I lost track to be honest, definitely not as heavy and may have skipped one along the way.
      Washing clothes: always did laundry in town and sometimes washed (no soap) my t-shirt on a hot day if it would dry while wearing it by the evening. If I swam I would wash my underwear while swimming and then just put my dry clothes over the top. Washed socks whenever I could at a water source and also wet my hair bandana to keep my head cool on hot days. You get used to being stinky and learn to embrace the hiker stench eventually! ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Do you wear makeup after the trail? I’m a dude and don’t even know what I’m wearing now but I think you are not wearing makeup post hike. If so, that is so awesome and so ahead of your time or just you being you post PCT, even more awesome! And double if so, my opinion, “Makeup doesn’t Make a woman.”

    • Ha! You win the award for most random question so far. I never wear makeup so nothing’s changed in that regard. I also have zero fashion sense so loved only having to worry about one outfit on trail!

  19. I am usually someone who follows the rules, but this question is not about the trail or gear. If you choose not to answer it, I certainly will understand. Without compromising your privacy and security, I would love to know a little more about your background. Age? Family? Schooling? etc.

    • Age: 21… Ha! Most people on trail thought I was younger than I am. Is it the way I behave? I’m actually 30.
      Family: Mum and Dad live in Sydney, My sis, brother in law and her two children live outside of Melbourne. My one remaining grandpa lives in Melbourne and the rest of my relatives (from my mum’s side) live in Holland.
      Schooling: I went to high school in Melbourne and Sydney and have a BA in Television Production from a university in a country town in NSW called Wagga Wagga. I now work as a contracted Event Manager on different events which have taken me to some interesting places around the world. My favourite colour is blue and I enjoy long walks on the beach during sunset! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Good morning, this is awesome! Here’s one of my questions I have for you. The biggest stress for me planning the entire hike is resupply and choosing locations to send packages and which to resupply in town. Would you mind noting which resupply locations on your itinerary you send packages to, and which you went to the store to resupply in town? Very curious about how long stores were willing to hold them for you as I recall you sending I think 14 packages out right before you started? What locations lost yours or have a reputation for losing them? Did you stick closely to how many days you’d be hiking to the next resupply when packing or did you include a little extra each time? Also, how did you decide how much to include, for example one day had breakfast bar, coffee, another mid morning snack, tortilla, afternoon snack, then dinner? What about judging how often you’d need new socks or shoes, did you wait to ask someone to mail those to you as needed? Thank you! Sorry for the rambling this topic is overwhelming for me.

    • I could spend hours on this, but I’ll try to give a quick summary. I sent packages to ALL my resupply locations with breakfast, dinner, snacks and drink mixes so I just had to purchase lunches in town. The only place that sent my package back was Snoqualmie Pass and be careful if you send to Sth Lake Tahoe as they only hold for 30 days and you must have an ETA on the box. I used Craig’s PCT planner for judging days between towns and they were pretty accurate but I always took at least 1-2 days extra. I estimated amounts for breakfast and dinner which seemed to work out and started with two bars for snacks and trail mix each day. I ate more snacks as time went on. Depends on what socks you have as to how quick they will wear out. Just carry extra at the start and see how you go. Estimate approx 700 miles for shoes.

    Sorry, I forgot to do that in the last question! At the end of the videos it looked like you had the North Face thermoball jacket? Wondering for Oregon and Washington what you would do for warmth when down is so dangerous if wet. If that was your jacket (yellow one) did you like it? How about socks did you have a change in socks for the moist climate? For a sleeping bag, did you consider mailing yourself a synthetic in Oregon to finish with or was your sleeping bag fine with a little extra protection? How did you feel about the down in the snow and rain?

    • I had my down sleeping bag the whole way. Carry in a dry sack to keep dry. I had a synthetic jacket and had a down vest for the last few days. I wore warmer socks in WA that I had sent ahead from the desert but they’ll get wet unless you wear waterproof boots so wear what feels comfortable keeping that in mind!

    (Last one for now I promise! I’ve been saving these since April) I recall you going through a few different filters, if you could do it again, how would you arrange them along the trail and what are your favorites? I thought about mailing my Katadyn home in Washington and having my Sawyer in a resupply box there. I’m probably giving a filter too much credit assuming it will last all of California and Oregon however.

    • Have thought about this a lot! Would have used a pump through the desert and my Steripen for the rest if it didn’t break.

  23. I re-started your blog today and it’s crazy how your feet caused you such problems at the beginning. The first week in (granted it was almost 100 miles) you had such bad blisters. At what point did your feet finally get used to it? Did they stop blistering and turn to calluses?

    Also, it is funny to see you meeting UB for the first couple of times and knowing now how much he would mean to you later on in the journey.

    • My blisters started getting better 700 miles in around Kennedy Meadows. The temperatures were finally cooler and my shoe/sock combo must have finally gelled at that point!

      • That’s where I missed you I think. I went from McKenzie Pass to Odell Lake with my brother over 5 days and ran into some people that knew you, (I passed 109 nobo thru-hikers)…the silver lining was that I went ahead and had the bag of Fritos I was saving in case I bumped into you. (I gave away about 50 bags of chips as on-trail trail magic and saved the Fritos ๐Ÿ™‚


  24. STRETCHING, MYOFACIAL RELEASE: after hiking all of those miles how did you handle your knots in the muscles in the legs. Did you have anything in the pack to help relieve them at the end of the day? Did hikers use any compression wear socks or leggings to help with swelling at the end of the day? Did you get any massages in towns? I have been wondering this for a long time. I hardly do anything and I have a ton of knots in my legs.

    • I never had knots in my legs but I stretched them every time I stopped walking. I was a compulsive stretcher. I also did back stretches in my tent each morning as I have problems with my lower back. I had a lot of knots in my shoulders and found that Arnica cream really helped with this. I had a massage in Redding and two in Ashland during the trip. To reduce swelling in my feet I would lie with them propped up on something like my food bag so they were above my heart and the blood could drain out of them. Didn’t see anyone wearing compression clothing but I don’t see why you couldn’t.

      • Ellen,

        I wear compression shorts and was told to wear them all night to alleviate the thigh and hamstring aches. Pretty much wore them 24/7 and it worked. You could wear the full length compression pant down to your ankles if you were having calf issues.

        I would get pretty warm in the summer and they get to be somewhat constricting especially at night in the sleeping bag, but the fatigue and achiness was much improved and I slept better!

        You could experiment with the full length version in the heat vs wearing them all night etc.

        Definitely worth it.


  25. I’ve got a “good respect” for heights. Where on the trail were places that made you stop and think ‘I’ve got to be careful, place my feet well, and not trip or I’d be in trouble’?

    • Definitely through Washington with the snow but also a little across the passes in the Sierras I guess. The worst was the ‘official’ detour around the endangered species section north of Baden Powell. We took the official route 20 miles longer than the road walk by mistake. There were lots of washed out parts of the trail but it was an incredible section that not many people got to see!

  26. Tim and Muk,

    Thanks for your input. I have a pair of the alf compression socks and used them after being on my feet on a long landscaping day and was totally impressed with how fast it made my legs better again. I’m in the hot country of Southern Utah, and the triathletes use them all the time here. I guess I would think more of socks for hiking. Now that you mention shorts, that would be a good combination between the two.


  27. What did you do to save your IPhone’s battery life? Did you just power it down until you needed it. Did you also set airplane-mode? Were there any special apps you used to help you save battery life? I know you had your extended battery and solar charger. Did you have a waterproof case, store it in a plastic ziplock Baggie, or something else.

    • I always had it on airplane mode unless I was checking mileage on Halfmile’s or Guthook’s apps. I never turned it off because I wanted it on the ready for pics and videos and I used it as my alarm clock. I didn’t play much music or anything on it and just used it as sparingly as possible. No special apps to increase battery life. I didn’t have a waterproof case but wished I did. In heavy rain I had it in my pocket under my rain pants but in WA put it in a ziplock bag.

  28. How often were you lost and needed to figure out which way to go? I think you had HalfMile’s and GutHook’s apps on your iPhone. We’re they useful? Did you use your maps, and compass ever? What did you use first to figure out which way to go? Maps? Apps? Other?

    • Never used printed maps. If I was confused about direction I used Guthook’s map page to check if I was on track. If I wanted to know my mileage I used Halfmile. They both have good but different info on water sources and camp sites. Guthook’s is great for elevation. Used compass on my phone twice the whole trip. The apps are AMAZING!

      • It was a lot slower to pick up satellites in the Sierras and WA, and I think the bad weather was a contributing factor. Sometimes it could take up to 5 minutes to pick up my GPS location but generally it worked very quickly and really well!

  29. In general how much did you “stealth camp” (just find a spot that looked good) and how much did you use HalfMile’s maps to select a campsite? When you got to a good site what was your typical procedure to setup camp? For example, what order did you do things and over time did you typically do the same thing? Was breaking down camp just the opposite to setup?

    • Stealth camped most of the time but liked having Halfmile as a guide. Neither apps list all camp spots. It’s easy when you’re travelling solo just to pick a spot. Always set up tent, then got changed into sleep clothes while my stove heated up water for dinner. Then ate, blogged, slept. Morning was changing back into hiking clothes while water boiled for breakfast, then pack down tent and head off. I’m a slow mover in the morning and needed 1.5 hours from wake up to walking (woke up at 5am most mornings).

  30. Five months plus is a long time to be on the trail. Over time what things did you need to replace, because they were used up, just wore out, or you were sick of them. For example, food and toiletries is obvious, along with shoes and socks, but were there other things less obvious? What things were there throughout? For example, your pack, your tent, and your sleeping bag. Considering that you encountered snow in Washington and had to do a major re-organization of your gear, maybe that section should be marked special (that is, with an asterisk).

    • My hiking poles snapped after 5 months and my tent zip broke but these were the two major things. My hiking pole ends needed replacing throughout like my shoes, socks etc. Almost done my gear review so hopefully this will answer a lot of questions!

  31. How did you plan your hike especially your zero days? I know you used pctplanner.com, but without a crystal ball it seems very tough to anticipate exactly when one needs a break or if one needs to stay in town the rest of the day (a nero). Based upon my reading it seems that most hikers take about 15 days of zeros, so does it make sense to just inject zeros across the months. For example, allot 3 days every month on the trail? How did you do it?

    • Go with the flow unless you do have a crystal ball. I picked towns I wanted to spend an extra day in but you also have to listen to your body. It also depends so much on your budget etc as town stops add up! Plan one full zero day a week and then see how you go! ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. Hi could you gointo some detail on your Servive Provider
    i think you said you used AT&T
    How did you arrange this ? go into a store when you arrived and brought a sim?
    also was it prepaid What sort of tarif
    how did you manage to top it up? as ive heard you need a USA credit card
    sorry lots of questions

    • I went into an AT&T store and bought a pay as you go SIM card, no contract. Couldn’t buy Verizon because you needed a special Verizon iPhone and I wanted to use the phone I already owned. I had to put down a $500 deposit for the SIM card because I’m not a US citizen which I won’t get back until I cancel the service (they can only post out a cheque to a US address so be aware of this!)
      I was on an $85 a month plan which included unlimited calls and text and 1GB of data. I often went over my data limit which cost me an extra $15 a month. So it got very expensive indeed! I couldn’t set up an auto pay because I didn’t have a US credit card so I used to just call and pay over the phone when I got to a town. I had to register a Social Insurance Number when I bought the SIM and even though I didn’t have a US one I was able to register my Canadian one. I think you could probably give any number if you don’t have one as they just use the last four digits to verify who you are when you call to pay. The girl who set everything up for me was great but it was a long confusing process. Hope this helps a little!

  33. Brilliant Thanks
    bit cheeky But will you add a post Budget oh what you actually spent!
    ie food wise / towns / unforeseen costs Or were you spot on

    Thanks agaiin

    • I was thinking about it but haven’t been able to figure it out just yet. I went way over budget on town stops, motels, food and extra gear. My phone also cost way more than expected. Will try and give a ball park figure at some point!

  34. Muk Muk,

    Loved your post of the presentation yesterday. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t see any video of it being that you are the video queen! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ve been catching up on some of your earlier posts from before I discovered your blog. I just read your mini “gear review” in the Sierras when you were waiting for UB.

    You talked about the Tyvek ground sheet. I’ve been trying to figure out if these are necessary. Aside from perhaps using it during the day or for cowboy camping did you find that it was needed under your tent? If so, is it more to save the tent and things poking through or more for a moisture barrier? I’m wondering if a tent floor can do both of those things “good enough”. A barrier can be kinda heavy nearing a 1/2 pound, so I’m questioning if it’s really necessary.

    Thanks for your insight.


    • I’ve now got my gear reviews up and I talk about Tyvek on the equipment one. It’s a good idea to have a ground sheet to protect the floor of your tent from holes and moisture. I got a hole in the bottom of my tent because my first piece of Tyvek wasn’t big enough to cover the entire base of my tent so I ended up getting a bigger piece. Tyvek is so light and has many uses so the little extra weight is definitely worthwhile in my opinion!

  35. Loved your tip on washing the tyvek its now gone from cardboard to something thats much easier to roll up and attach to my pack
    would of never of thought of that one Did you also use another piece to sit on? or use your sleep pad

  36. Just a Thought i think you said you used your I-phone for filming and Photos
    how did you clear it down. Ie In towns what did you download / or upload it too ?
    hope that makes sense
    I guess with the camera you just changed cards

  37. Not to get too personal, but how much weight did you lose? Or what do you think is average amongst thru-hikers who are already reasonably fit before starting the trail? I’m wondering/concerned about adequate caloric intake and nutrient maintenance while on trail…ALSO, THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR AMAZING STORY!

    • I probably lost about 12 pounds. Everyone is different and I never counted calories so I was probably bound to lose weight. I saw people lose from 0 – 60 pounds so it depends how much weight you have to lose. I also put on extra muscle but lost most of my body fat so in a sense it may have evened out a little. They say men lose more weight than women and from what I saw I would say there is truth to that.

  38. So if I understand correctly “Mutti” is your mother. I was curious of that term as I had never heard it before so I looked it up and it said it was German for mother. So are you German heritage in Australia? Sorry if that’s a silly question as I’m not good with knowing which types of last names go with various countries. Also, since we’re on the parents topic, how were they with their daughter going to the other side of the world to hike by herself in the wilderness? Pretty relaxed about it or on pins and needles?


    • My mother is actually Dutch but we learned German in high school which is when she developed this name. My parents were incredibly supportive and from what I saw equally as relaxed. I know they were nervous at the end, but everyone was on edge because of the weather in WA!!

  39. How did you handle your cash? Did you carry a wad of bills rolled up and tucked in your pack somewhere? Were there bills sown into the lining of your hiking garb? Did you carry a debit or credit card. How often did you have to use cash versus using a card?

    • Didn’t carry much cash but had a little in a small purse with my credit and debit card which I stored in the mesh pocket inside my pack. There were probably only a couple of places that didn’t take credit card (can’t remember exactly) so it’s good to have a little with you. You’ll always need it for laundry change in town!

    • Just used my regular Canadian credit card and had it set to auto pay so I didn’t have to worry about monthly payments. Dangerous but convenient!

  40. Hi Muk Muk,

    My partner and I are currently in the throes of preparation for a thru-hike attempt of the PCT next year. I have been following a number of peopleโ€™s blogs this season but, unfortunately, have only just stumbled across yours. Congratulations on completing such an epic journey!

    We are from Sydney and Canberra and have just returned from a Wilsonโ€™s Promontory practice hike which, judging from your blog, appears to be tradition for Australian PCT wannabe thru-hikers.

    The two issues we are currently grappling with are travel insurance and visa stuff. Did you have any issues with World Nomads? We would obviously write to them as you did and seek confirmation that theyโ€™ll cover us.

    The second issue is food, which appears to be somewhat linked to visa regulations. We tried dehydrating whole meals for the Wilsonโ€™s Promontory walk โ€œfreezer-bag cooking styleโ€ which worked very well for us. Ideally, we would like to dehydrate many meals for the trail. But customs at the US Border prevents us from bringing in dehydrated meat. So the choice appears to be arriving in America a month or so early and finding somewhere to hunker down and dehydrate 100 meals or so or abandoning the dehydrated meal idea (or try to get a clear response from Customs about whether we can send dehydrated vegetarian meals from Australia- the responses we have received are rather ambiguous on this point). That said, if we can only obtain a 6 month visa, it may not be such a great use of our time to spend a month of that dehydrating. Did you only seek a 6 month visa because you thought that was all you required to hike the PCT? Do you know of any non-US resident hikers who were able to obtain tourist visas for longer than that?

    Enjoy your well-deserved rest and good luck with any re-entry issues!


    • Hi Ella, good questions! I didn’t have issues with World Nomads but didn’t make any claims so it’s hard to say. The food thing is tricky. I’m no expert on the visa thing but from what I understand 6 months seemed to be the maximum time I was allowed. I would maybe check at the US consulate. You’ll need to go there for an interview to get your visa anyway. I think it’s up to the discretion of the customs officer on arrival. Perhaps if you had evidence of departing the country they may issue a longer one (I didn’t have a departing flight so my guy was confused about the whole walking out of the country thing.) Definitely check with the experts. If you prepare meals with freeze dried or pre-dehydrated vegetables it could save you a lot of time. I prepared over 100 meals in 8 days but only dehydrated pasta sauce. I think you could do it all in 2 weeks if you were focussed on it full time. This would still allow you enough time to get through the trail. The other option which I know people did was apply for a visa extension. You can do this a few months in, as long as it’s 45 days before your visa expires. If you explain your circumstances they should approve it. Go online and read about it. You basically wait a few months so it doesn’t appear that you planned to stay longer all along. Hope this helps and enjoy the trail! I’m excited for you guys!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Thank you so much for your reply Muk Muk! We are both extremely excited about the adventure. Even more so after stumbling across your blog. And now to mainline the last six month of your blog posts….

    • Good job. I assume it’s a multiple entry visa? It doesn’t mean you can stay for 10 years but at least it’s valid for that long. The customs officer will determine how long you can stay for when you enter the country (usually 6 months).

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