One More Adventurer to Follow

In the last post I brought attention to our friend Puff Puff’s blog as a source of more adventure for you hiking blog junkies out there.

One more I would like to bring to your attention is our friend Shepherd’s blog. Otherwise known as Brad, he is a world adventurer who we met on the PCT. He completed his thru-hike last year and then immediately jumped on his bicycle to travel through Central America.

Now Brad is planning a 2016 thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail. You can follow his journey here. He starts walking next month! I’m very excited to follow along.


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How to deal with the post adventure blues. Part 1. 

A great post-trail wrap up by our friend Puff Puff. Need more adventure blogs in your life? This is a great one to read through.


I was in two minds about publishing my last post about life after adventure, it’s quite scary to put yourself ‘out there’ and lay yourself emotionally bare. What if people thought I was being ridiculous? Well, it turns out I didn’t need to worry as — to my amazement — it has quickly become my most popular post. The kind messages I have received have been both beautiful and heartwarming. It seems to have resonated with a lot of people — both hikers and non-hikers alike — something I didn’t expect.

I just wanted to add a note to say that although I said I was reluctant to talk to my friends and family about how I’m feeling, that is purely a reflection on me and not them, because I have a great network of people and I know that any one of them would be there for me…

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Adventure and The Pacific Crest Trail is Released!

Adventure and The Pacific Crest Trail is now available for purchase in print and as an ebook for your iPad and Kindle devices.

Discover the highs and lows of backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail through daily journal entries and beautiful photos. Witness the contrast of landscapes from stark deserts to the majestic Sierra Nevada. Feel the struggle of hunger and the pain of injury. Meet trail angels and stumble upon trail magic in this detailed chronicle, this step-by-step narrative of life on the trail.

Jill and Arthur walked from the Mexican border to the Canadian border in 2015, documenting their 2,650 mile journey through California, Oregon, and Washington. They invite you to share in their adventure and experience part of the world as it is rarely seen.

As Daniel Zweier, Editor-in-Chief of, said:

Jill and Arthur’s journey is magical…built on daily reflection and heartfelt connection. You struggle and succeed with them.

This adventure was amazing, of course. Those of you who followed our journey on our blog know how full of wonder and excitement (and pain and struggle) the Pacific Crest Trail was for us. The book making process was wonderful in its own way. Since finishing the trail back in September 2015 Jill and I have gone through our photos and journal notes countless times, refining them and reliving our favorite moments.

Adventure And: The Pacific Crest Trail

So you have read our blog, or you might choose to go and read it right now, for free. What’s new in the book?

Well, not much. The posts have been edited for grammar and clarity. Our best photos made it into the book, and they have been refined to best reflect the reality of what we saw on trail. The printed book is beautiful, and I am happy and proud to have a copy of my own. It will make an excellent living-room conversation piece, an experience to share and discuss with guests. The ebook, more so the iPad version, is a sleek experience of our trail journal. It’s a more personal experience, one where you can take time studying the grand landscapes of the photos.

And this experience should be shared, because it does not belong to only Jill and I. It is not only our own. This journey was inspired by others, aided by others, supported by others, and enjoyed by others. We want to thank friends and family, trail angels and trail friends, random providers of trail magic and car rides, the PCTA and its volunteers, and our readers!

Without all of you, and countless more, this adventure would not have been what it was. The trail would not be what it is.

Thank you all.

The Pacific Crest Trail is a truly remarkable experience stretching across many truly remarkable places. But the people made the difference. The trail is magic, and so is the community which surrounds it.

A note about price, for those surprised by the stark difference between the print and electronic versions. The $250 price tag is due primarily to printing costs. The hardcover, 358 page, 13 x 11, book is printed on photo quality paper, and it is a heavy piece of literature, in the literal sense. About $200 goes into the actual printing of the book via my print-on-demand service, blurb, and then Amazon gets to take it’s fair cut. The ebook, on the other hand, requires no printing costs and Amazon’s cut is percentage based, so the electronic version’s costs are puny by comparison.

The best way to support us, and this book, is to leave a review. If you have read our blog, you know the contents of the book. A review on Amazon or Goodreads will help bring eyes to its existence. Thank you!

Bama and Back Again

It started on a whim, as most things do. Jill’s new job doesn’t start until April, and so we wanted to plan one more adventure before jumping back into career mode. “Why don’t we go visit my sister in Alabama?” Jill said (or something like it). So we planned out the trip.

It started off with a hitch or two. We wanted to rent a car. Jill’s Buick is not in good enough condition for a cross-country trek, and she didn’t feel comfortable sharing driving responsibilities with my VW stick-shift. We figured out pricing and thought it was doable, until we actually went to rent the car. Turns out ‘unlimited mileage’ only applied to Oregon and California portions of our trip. Enterprise was going to charge us 50 cents per mile every mile outside of these states, which meant an extra 2000+ dollars. Nope. We made the last minute choice to take my car.

The day we departed I pulled over a couple miles out of town because I forgot that I wanted to check my car’s oil. Good thing I checked because it was low. I added some and started off down the road again. Chug chug clunk clunk…what? I pulled over again and popped the hood. The oil filler cap was missing. We walked back down the road until we found it. Now we could finally begin the trip.

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7000+ Miles
20+ Cities
10+ National Parks/Monuments/Forests/Preserves

Here we go!



We had been down these roads many, many times. Once we found our oil cap it was a quick shot down highway 42 on over to Interstate-5. Oregon is gorgeous and has a lot to offer, but this trip was all about the unseen America, the lands we have yet to explore.



The same goes for much of California, especially along I-5. You want to see pictures of Mt. Shasta? Here you go. We took some when we hiked around it on the Pacific Crest Trail.

It was our first trip to the Bay Area since we left to hike the PCT. We knew it, and so we drove right on through. We stayed the night in Pleasanton at Jill’s brother’s place. I woke up early to get my car’s oil changed and then we got back on the road toward new vistas.

Down in the desert, east of Bakersfield, we finally started taking some pictures. We entered the Mojave Desert and crossed the mountain pass through the town of Tehachapi, a PCT town we fondly remember. We tried to capture a breathtaking desert sunset, but the pictures could do it no justice.



We continued on past Barstow and into the town of Needles along the Colorado River. Night had set in. We were about to cross into Arizona and wanted to see all that we could see. We stayed in town and set ourselves up to wake early and drive over to see the Grand Canyon for the first time!

Continued in part 2.


If you want to follow this trip and our future endeavors, please go to my website and enter your email on the right sidebar to subscribe and follow our new posts.

We will be transitioning our content to my main website to consolidate it all. JillRTPCT will remain, but soon will no longer see any new posts. Hope to see you there!

Cost of a Thru-Hike Revisited

Bushtit and I were featured in an article by In our blog post, The Monetary Costs of a Thru-Hike, we broke down our trail expenses to give future hikers a clear look at the potential cost of a thru-hike. asked to use our information and further interviewed us to construct a more detailed article. Our example is our own, of course, and will not represent all styles of thru-hiking, but this article will still serve as a great general guide for future hikers.

Even if you already read our article, check out the article. It contains more information for you to use when planning your own hike.

Please share with other hikers who might find this useful!

Our Sierra Breakdown

We had an article published by the Pacific Crest Trailside Reader, titled Sierra Breakdown. The Sierras were full of beauty and struggle. Here’s an excerpt.

Climbing Forester Pass and dropping down into King’s Canyon National Park was my absolute favorite day on the trail. It was magic. But days later, after struggling to ascend pass after pass, and running low on food, I broke. My partner and I rationed for days. My muscles became weak. The Muir Ranch we had put our emergency resupply hopes upon was closed. I quit. I cried. I said I was done.

Check it out when you find the time. The Trailside Reader hosts hiker authors several times a week and is full of excellent PCT tips and stories. If you find an author you like, it’s likely they’ll have their personal blog linked to their post so you can follow them.

Gear Review (RT – Male)

Overall I was very happy with my gear. There were very few items I replaced or would have wanted to. Some items I realized I spent too much money on at the beginning, only to replace them with cheap versions of themselves when they broke down part way through the hike.

Here’s a quick recap of nearly all the items I carried. If you want specifics, ask questions in the comments below!


Tent – Tarptent Double Rainbow w/liner


Couldn’t have asked for better. It held up just fine for the entire thru-hike. Barely a tear or scratch, and those were easy to patch. Cozy for two people, maybe sometimes a little tight when we were sleeping on uneven ground, but otherwise just great. (I didn’t carry it, though)


Sleeping Bag – Zpacks Down Solo Sleeping Bag


This sleeping bag was very comfortable to sleep in on a mild to chilly night, but when it got cold it was cold. My bag was rated at 20 degrees F. I was jealous of Jill’s 10 degree bag, which kept her nice and warm. I was also jealous of other’s bags that had hood attachments. I used my clothing to help keep myself warm, but I wish the bag was a little more effective. It was mostly the cold desert nights at the beginning of our PCT hike that got to me. The bag was very compact and light to carry—fit inside my backpack perfectly under my food sack.


Sleeping Bag Stuff Sack – Zpacks Medium Plus Stuff Sack


It’s a stuff sack. It didn’t tear or leak.


Backpack – Deuter Futura Vario 50 + 10


I loved my backpack. Lots of other hikers commented on the weight (somewhere at about 4 pounds), saying it was a bit heavy. But the weight gave it strength and ventilation I could see was lacking on many other thru-hikers packs. It was incredibly comfortable. My back stayed dry in hot weather. The big hip cushions were nice. The pack had zippers and pockets everywhere, some I didn’t even find until halfway through my hike. The zippers and pockets may have added to the weight of the pack, but I always knew where every single thing I had was at any time. Everything had its place. On the downside there were no hip pockets (though I could have bought some to attach if I really cared) and the big bottom pocket’s zipper was difficult to open and close, which I saw on other reviews of the backpack before I purchased it. I’m going to keep using this pack until it is torn to shreds!


Sleeping Pad – Klymit Inertia O-Zone


Weird design, but quite comfortable. Took me many less breaths to fill my air pad than most other hikers. I loved the attached pillow. The holes were never uncomfortable unless the inside floor of our tent ever got wet because then the moisture would soak through into my sleeping bag. I like it enough to keep using it.


Ground Cloth – Gossamer Gear Polycro


It worked for a while, but would eventually get torn to shreds. I think I replaced mine three times on the hike. In damp conditions every bit of dirt and foliage would stick to it, which was annoying when I had to roll it up and put it in my bag. Tyvek seemed like a better alternative.


Eating Utensil – Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spoon


Good shape and length. Never broke. Easy to clean.


Headlamp – Divine LED Headlamp


Tested this headlamp out before the hike and it worked fine, but it failed me the few times I tried to use it. Swapped out batteries a couple of times, but they always seemed to drain very quickly. Eventually the battery clasp broke and I threw it away. Bought a cheap replacement in Burney that worked better but didn’t have all the adjustments I would have wanted.


Water Filtration – Sawyer Squeeze


It survived the thru-hike, but over time I grew more and more annoyed with my Sawyer. The bag it came with broke right away. The gasket inside started giving me troubles until I realized that I should not screw my smart water bottles onto it all the way (three quarters of the way seals the filter but will not tear into the gasket). When the flow slows I would clean it, but each time I back flushed it the cleaning seemed to be less effective. Didn’t really seem like anyone else had a solution or better alternative, though.


Water Bags – Platypus Platy 2 L


Went through several of these. They held up through the desert where I needed them, but they all broke eventually. The plastic separated up near the nozzle on each one. They were convenient while they worked but I eventually just switched to carrying all of my water in smart water bottles. I didn’t need the extra capacity after the desert anyway.


Trowel – Deuce of Spades


Dug holes well enough. Light. Small. Easy to carry. Didn’t break.


OP Bag  Loksak OPSak


Went through two on the entire hike, but I had to take good care of them. Other hikers went through many more. They are easy to puncture and the gaskets tear if you don’t take care when opening and closing them. Kept rodents away, though. I never had a mouse chew through any of my gear.


Food Bag – Zpacks Roll Top Blast


I used this as a food bag for a while. We had to switch to bear cans and after that I just used the OP sacks. This expensive bag just turned into a trash bag for me and got all scratched and torn by the end of the hike.




Bear Canister – BV500


Never had a bear issue. It was uncomfortable to carry, but I think any bear can would be. Fit all of my food (most of the time). I liked that the container was clear so that I could see where my food was. Worked well as a seat.


Ice Axe CAMP Neve — 50 cm


I like it a lot, but I never used it on the trail. I never even mailed it to myself. By the time we made it to the Sierras we decided it wasn’t going to be icy enough to warrant carrying the axe. We could have used it for climbing Mt. Whitney, but it would have just been to ease our fears. We made it up and down the mountain just fine without our axes.


Microspikes – Kahtoola MICROspikes


Never even tried these on. We did mail these to Kennedy Meadows but the package never arrived (the post office still hasn’t found it to this day). Could have used them on Whitney like the ice axe, but we made it just fine without them.




Rain Jacket – Packa poncho — 33D


Kept me incredibly dry in rainy/snowy/haily weather. Great for that. I had to constantly adjust pit zips and front zip and hood on/off so that I did not sweat myself soaking wet. Kept my pack perfectly dry as well. The worst downside was that to get to my pack I had to take off the entire poncho, but it wasn’t an issue very often. Just a really good rating for how dry it kept me.


Gloves – Outdoor Research Wool Gloves


Kept my hands warm on many days and many many nights. The wool helped to keep my hands warm in wet weather, but not as well as a waterproof shield would have. I was deceived, too. I thought the gloves were entirely wool, but the wool outer layer started to wear away and reveal the cotton underneath. A little disappointing.


Warm Hat – Gifted knitted beanie


Great for resting and sleeping. Not great for hiking because I would sweat and the wool would itch. Kept my ears warm. I wore a thin headband while cold hiking.


Insulated Jacket – REI Revelcloud Jacket


Not as warm as I would have liked, but it was on a steep discount at an REI garage sale. Usually I am a very warm person, often too warm. On this hike I found that as I lost a lot of weight very quickly I needed better gear to keep me warm. This jacket didn’t cut it, but I just kept adding layers when I needed. Would have liked a hood.


Extra Socks – Black dress socks


Though they were very comfortable to hike in, each pair fell apart within days. I just started the hike with half a dozen pairs of my old work socks. By Tehachapi I burned through them all and went for some Darn Toughs which were amazing. Great company. Great product. Wear Darn Toughs.


Bug head net – Sea to Summit Head Net


Mostly wore this for two weeks in the Sierras when we had the worst mosquitos of my life. Carried it the rest of the hike because it was so compact and the weight was insignificant.


Wind shirt – Salomon Dynamics Soft Shell


Amazing light jacket. Great for wind and light rain. It’s a biking jacket, but it was very comfortable and because it had no front pockets it didn’t rub awkwardly on my pack straps. Didn’t get dirty easily and I often put it on when trying to hitch a ride because it looked so nice.




Toothbrush – Zpacks Ultralight toothbrush


Did not like. I got rid of it pretty quickly for a cheap, regular toothbrush. I saw many other hikers ditch these into hiker boxes as well.


Glasses and Case

If you have glasses get a strong, sturdy case. My case was very solid and still broke at the hinges, but it kept my glasses safe.



Used gauze a few times. Worth carrying.



I carried way too many backup contacts with me the entire trip. Just mail them as you need them.



Used it as eye drops a lot.


Survival Medic Kit – SOL Survival Medic + Kit


Never had a major emergency but I did use a few items from this kit. Compact.


Hand Sanitizer

Use it every time you poop! Plenty of people got sick and blamed it on a variety of things but I believe that many people just did not wash their hands properly.


Toilet Paper

Small, single-ply rolls worked best for me.



A MUST in the desert and the Sierra Nevadas for pale skin. The snowy mountains will get you worse than the desert. Be careful.




Knife – Bowie Knife

I carried it for fun but it was completely unnecessary. The most I did with it was slice an avocado. Great conversation piece, but I sent it home after the Sierras. Jill’s Leatherman multi-tool was much more useful.




Camera GoPro Hero3+ Black with 64GB SD card


Favorite piece of equipment on the entire hike! I took many pictures and videos and did not fill up the card space. Takes amazing scenery and landscape photos. Was everything I wanted it to be. I screwed it in like a tripod mount onto the top of my hiking staff. Kept it that way the entire hike. Battery life was excellent, though I had to make sure my wifi stayed off otherwise it would drain fast.


External Battery – EC Technology 18000mAh Ultra Slim


Had some issues at the beginning of the hike because there is an easy to push button which turns on an LED flashlight, so the battery drained often. It was frustrating. Once I found a way to keep the battery in my pack without anything pressing on that button the issue went away. The battery size was large enough to keep my phone, Jill’s phone, and the GoPro charged for seven days or more without limiting our use.


Phone – iPhone 5S


Excellent for blogging, navigation, and every other thing you can do with an iPhone. I had ATT and service was ok throughout the hike, mostly what I expected it to be. Jill’s Android sometimes had a better cell signal than I did. My iPhone would often receive good GPS signals for Halfmile’s app when Jill’s Android did not. A couple of weird issues with the WordPress and Instagram apps at times, but I always found a workaround.


Phone Case – driSuit


Held up through nearly the entire hike. Both hinges broke and the bottom piece was no longer water tight, but it was snug enough to still fit together. It was quite ugly and white was not a good color for it, but my call quality was just fine and it kept my phone moisture and dust free.


Non-BPW Contributors


Hiking shirt – White Sierra Kalgoorlie Shirt (altered)


Wore it the entire hike. The shirt was tight around my chest on arrival from REI’s online store, but Jill’s mom helped me let the shirt out near the shoulder blades and we installed some ventilation spots with some light, stretchy fabric. Very comfortable in all weather conditions. The only part that ever tore were those vents near the end of the hike, the rest of the shirt remained intact.


Shirt – Smartwool Men’s NTS Micro 150 Pattern Crew


Didn’t use them for sleeping. Well I did at first, but after 1000 miles I just slept in my hiking gear every day. I used these shirt in towns, though. The wool kept me from stinking too much and they were more presentable than my hiking clothes. Many other hikers didn’t care about their stink or appearance in town, but I did a little.


Shorts – prana Talon Shorts


Very comfortable but not worth the price. I replaced these halfway through the hike because they were too torn up. My replacement was some cheap Walmart shorts which worked just as well.


Shoes – Brooks Cascadia 9


This debate among thru-hikers will never end. Which shoe is best? I can’t tell you if these were the best, but they were great for me. For my entire thru-hike I wore two pairs of Cascadias, minus 300 miles with boots (see below). They were comfortable and did not tear apart until many many miles of hiking were put on them. My first pair was sent home at Kennedy Meadows, and only because I received my Sierra boots there. After the Sierras I walked from Sierra City to Canada on one pair of Cascadias. I threw that pair away, but I’m still wearing my first pair, the ones I sent home at Kennedy Meadows, today. The ‘9’ is the important part. Others who wore the newer ‘10’s had many issues. The new design simply did not support a thru-hikers feet. My ‘9’s were excellent.


Shoes (sierras) – Mammut Pacific Crest GTX


Very glad that I wore these in the Sierras. They were indestructible. All of the rocks and streams and mud in the Sierras were no trouble for me. I marched right through it all while watching others struggle and take long alternates to avoid what I could walk right over. Sent them home in Sierra City because they are very heavy and were not worth wearing other than in the extreme Sierra terrain. I had to treet my feet differently while wearing these boots. Where in my Cascadias the ventilation let in so much dust and dirt I had to work to keep my feet clean, in these waterproof boots my feet were always clean but I had to work to keep them dry (from my own sweat). Not a big issue, but just something to be aware of.


Underwear – Ex Officio sport mesh boxer briefs


Rotated two pairs the entre hike. Still wear both pairs today. Very comfortable. No chafe. Look cool.


Sunglasses – Suncloud Polarized


They worked great but got scratched up and I lost them eventually. Only item I lost on the hike, I believe. Replaced them with some cheap grocery store polarized glasses which worked just fine.


Hat – Ball Cap

I did have a large straw hat for the desert, but this hat served me well the rest of the hike. Good just to keep my hair back and for the minor sun protection it provided.


Hiking Pole – REI Shocklight Hiker Staff


Many thought it was weird that I only had one pole, but it was all I needed. This staff was great for helping me keep my balance on stream crossings. It helped lift me and lower me when I needed it. It held my GoPro the entire hike. I liked having a free hand to grab water or snacks with. Lasted the entire hike and I’m going to keep on using it!