FIRE!

I wish I could tell you that I never set the woods on fire, but that just isn’t the case. When I was around 8-9 years old, I was pretending to camp with my younger brother Vern and 2 younger cousins. We were in the small woods behind our house. I couldn’t tell you if I was taught how to make a campfire by my dad or not. We had gone camping in the BWCA quite often and so I know I had observed how to make a campfire.

Anyway, I had snuck matches from the house. The 4 of us were playing camping and so I guess I figured we needed a campfire. It was a dry spring with lots of dry grass. I lit the first fire and we stomped it out and thought that was fun. I lit 3 more spots and that is when the real trouble started. The fires grew and we were no longer able to put them out. We had an empty Skippy Peanut Butter glass jar and so we were running to fill the jar with water down a dirt road behind the fire and the house. The fire was gaining in size and at this point, I sent my brother home to tell dad. I guess you could say we were lucky it was Sunday afternoon as 2 more Uncles had shown up. After that, all I remember was a lot of yelling, crying and Uncles with shovels trying to put the fire out.

Once extinguished, we were all covered in soot. I was sent to my bedroom for the rest of the afternoon. I remember watching my cousins laughing and playing outside while a was shut away. I’m not sure what my punishment was after everyone went home, but I’m sure it wasn’t pleasant.

I learned how dangerous fire can be and how fast it can get out of hand. My dad taught me the proper way to have a campfire after that.

Two September’s ago I hiked out on the KEK Trail alone for 3 days. There had been terrible blow-downs with the most recent in 2016. It was raining the day I went in but sunny and windy when I headed out. The amount of deadfall along the trail was scary. All I could do was imagine the conflagration if a wildfire broke out or a careless hiker or camper left a smoldering campfire.

Crews have worked hard the last few years to clear the trail. This trail is now a segment of the NCT in Minnesota. It will take a tremendous effort to minimize the fire danger in this area where no mechanized equipment can be used.

You may wonder why am I talking about fire? Well, I received my California Campfire Permit yesterday so that I can use my camp stove while on the PCT. We all know the fire danger that exists in the state of California. I don’t plan on having a campfire even though I will have cold temps with an early March start date. A hot breakfast and supper will be something to look forward to on cold days.Hiker midnight for me is 7 pm and with the sunset at 6pm I know I will be snuggled up in my 15 degree Thermarest sleeping bag and X-therm mattress so no campfire will be necessary.

Who knows though, I might just learn how to go stoveless.

Remember what Smokey says, “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires”.

Approved!

On November 13, 2019 I received an email from the Pacific Crest Trail Association. This email stated that my permit application for my March start date was approved.

I wanted to experience the desert section of the trail and I will get that chance. So, what might I be in store for you ask? 80 degrees during the day. Cold enough at night to warrant a 15 degree bag. Sand with wind to cover every item I bring including myself. Snow… Rattlesnakes, mountain lions, and poisonous Poodle plants. Whoa, this is going to be quite the adventure.

There are famous hikers who have completed the PCT and all of them have shared their wealth of knowledge with the rest of us. I would be foolish not to check out their vlogs, blogs, podcast interviews, trail journals and books.

I’m going to use all of my equipment from my Appalachian Trail hike. At the end of that hike, I had MSR replace my stove because the threads stripped out for attaching a canister, Big Agnes replaced my tent poles because of a junction break, Komperdell replaced my hiking pole tips and I have patched holes in stuff sacks and recoated my tent seams with sealer. I may need to add a few items like an umbrella for shade, sun gloves and shirt which has UV protection. I think I will be good for the snow, if there is any. Prediction for a low snow year in California is encouraging and also discouraging. Great for mountain passes but bad for water sources and the danger of fire.

My husband Tom will be driving along with our camper. This could be really helpful for carrying a lighter load and for resupplies. Because of this, it will be a very different hike from the AT. There I was on my own and Tom sent my prepared boxes from Minnesota.

One thing I can count on from the PCT that also occurred on the AT, was the excitement of plants, trees, animals and people so new to me and so different from northern Minnesota. I don’t know what is more exciting, the pre-planning or the actual hike. Only time will tell. Let the adventure begin.