the animal's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
2Birds1Stone
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

I'm on the trail now, hiking along the Atlantic coast, from fishing village to fishing village. It's pretty epic. April is a great time of year down here.....the north near Porto can be very wet in Feb/March. We are seeing a ton of bike packers around these parts, meeting a ton of like-minded folk.

Enjoy the PCT!!! Looking forward to following along.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

Thanks to all for sharing your thoughts. I will have to look at the cynefin framework a little more closely when I have more time as I am not too familiar with it. I've said before that I'd like to leave work for a while so I have large chunks of time off where I can do stuff like go on long hikes, go camping , take a course etc. But..considering that I spent 2 months in the desert last fall, took the woodworking class and now will be doing the PCT, it appears I can do all that while holding this job. So why go elsewhere? I could (and have) work the forestry job at the same time as well as the other field job. So unless there is a really strong alternative (not really) or the job becomes something that I really dread doing (not really), it might be best to maintain the current course, at least for the time being. I can't really imagine any other scenario where I would be able to do what I've been able to do working in another position elsewhere, unless maybe I was working for myself. So in that sense, I think I got pretty damn lucky.
Jim wrote:
Wed May 10, 2023 2:36 pm
I hope you have a blast on the PCT, your planning/budgeting is on point. The trail is not far from my house and we do day hikes to the Kendall Catwalk. We're hoping to do the J section later this summer with the kids.
We should be passing by your area late July, if you are around and interested in hiking with us for a few miles it'd be great to meet and chat.
Western Red Cedar wrote:
Wed May 10, 2023 4:21 pm
I'm curious about your philosophy on balancing the homestead with travel. What are you doing with your dogs? Did you intentionally refrain from setting up the cabin and land in a way that would preclude you from long-term travel?
Thanks for the links!

In our area the biggest concerns around leaving for extended periods with regards to a home is water and heating. Our house is dry, meaning we don’t have any connections to outside water sources or real plumbing in which we have to worry about frozen pipes. We drain our water filter and 12 gal water tank we use for our sink prior to leaving. Our sole source of heat is our woodstove, so we just make sure that we are leaving anything that can be frozen. This ends up being just about everything with the exception of some glues, paints and liquids in sealed glass bottles like hot sauce. The last one I always forget about and have had the joy of cleaning up broken glass and hot sauce at least two times now.

Not having a heated space when we are gone precludes us from doing some things like having house plants, keeping certain types of foods, and water on hand. So far we haven't minded the trade off. Most other people in the area have a oil heater that they will set on low (~50 F) when they leave. But to me it seems like a waste just to heat our stuff when we are not around, especially for long durations. And it certainly isn't appealing financially with heating oil over $4/gal.

One of the reasons we have refrained from keeping domestic animals for more than a season is because of the difficulty in being able to travel. Our garden and food forest were designed with the intention of not needing a tremendous amount of upkeep, so they will (at least in the case of the food forest) just keep on growing without interruption. One of our friends will be using some of our garden this summer to grow things for himself and the rest I will be planting a cover crop.

The dogs are the hardest part about going anywhere. We are down to one now as my mom and step dad ended up taking on one of ours when we were visiting around Christmas. I have generally had no major issues to date of finding people to take him as he is a really strong Alaskan husky and fits in well with friends’ dog teams/bikejoring setups etc. One of the first things my friend, who watched him most of last winter, asked after we told him we are going to do the PCT was whether we need him to watch the dog. So we are lucky to have a few very good friends in that regard. But it would be far easier not having any pets.

@Newblood- Thanks for sharing that. I hadn't heard of those routes before. They look like the European equivalent of the US Adventure Cycling Network. Very cool.

@2b1s- That trail looks outstanding. Glad to hear you are enjoying it and meeting like minded people.

Jim
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jim »

theanimal wrote:
Thu May 11, 2023 4:31 pm
We should be passing by your area late July, if you are around and interested in hiking with us for a few miles it'd be great to meet and chat.
I would love to do that, unfortunately the wife and I are headed back east for a few weeks to visit the grandparents at the end of July/August.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

Closing loops
Mrs. Animal had a short contracting gig doing some trail crew training last month so we went down to Anchorage for about 10 days. She used to live in the area and still has a bunch of friends there so we did a good amount of visiting. We ended up leaving with much more than good conversations. Some of the people had things they had ready to dispose of and instead offered them to us. I ended up taking home a new pair of trail runners, flip flops, chacos, and a whole array of woodworking tools. The tools have some rust and will need a little bit of work. Almost all were on my list of things to get, so that was a big success. Even our dog has gotten into the scavenging fun and has found 6 balls on our walks over the past month.

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Mexican Cooking
I mentioned earlier this year that I wanted to focus on improving my skills at cooking Mexican cuisine this year. Like with pizza, I figured the best way to start would be to focus on the foundational aspects. For pizza that’s the dough, for Mexican food it’s the tortilla and salsas. I made a tortilla press a couple years ago but never was able to get my tortillas as thin as I liked. I ended up buying a cast iron press for $20 last month and that made a world of difference. My tortillas are now soft, thin and flexible. I’ve transitioned to focusing on making salsas and have tried a few varieties already. There is one with poblano peppers that we really, really like. I’d be interested in hearing any suggestions if anyone has any they’d recommend. We are limited by our selection of fresh peppers here. Ultimately, I’d like to be able to grow our annual tomato and pepper supply for pizzas and tacos in a yet to be built greenhouse.

Morels
I went morel hunting in an old burn outside of town with a friend earlier this past month. We found a few, but nothing crazy. The next week we went as a family with some other friends and found a whole boatload. We ended up picking 23 lbs in about 3 hours! Mrs. Animal’s first time mushroom picking and my second. Not bad at all. We cleaned and dried them after getting home. We are cooking them in stir frys, on pizza and in tacos. Our plan is also to bring some on the PCT for some of our dinners

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PCT prep
We’ve prepared nearly all of our food, with packaging the spices being all that remains. We spent a few hours every day for the past month or so getting things prepared. It ended up taking more time than we thought and between that, trying to fit in training, sleep and some more work than usual, we did not get around to building, fixing or making other things like my car, a greenhouse or sauna. We borrowed a sewing machine from a friend to finish our quilt and have everything pinned together. All that’s left is to sew it, which we will likely be doing this weekend.

Our costs for the trip did rise a little bit since the last post. I figured that the pack I had was not big enough and ended up getting a new to me pack. We were also originally planning on incorporating salmon as a large part of our food supply. However, the run has had a very slow start to the year, so we determined that it would not be worthwhile to dedicate the time to going down and trying before we left. We don’t have any on hand, so we ended up buying more food to replace the salmon.

Washington has had a very warm summer to date, with the snow melting out completely at our starting location at Hart’s Pass nearly 3 weeks ago. The rule of thumb is that 2 weeks of > 50 F post snow free date means a snow free trail through WA. We will be at >4 weeks, so will likely see hardly any snow at all until reaching the Sierras in CA. Due to the high snow year in the Sierras and the difficult travel conditions, there have been a lot of people changing their route, with lots more people flipping their route or skipping sections. Our hike may be more social than we initially expected.

It'll be nice to get walking. Other people’s reactions to us doing this have been interesting to say the least. We are probably at about 2/3 negative reaction and 1/3 positive. Most people give us a look of disbelief, don’t say anything for a few seconds and then ask if we are going to bring the baby too. (Lol, what else would we do with her?) We’ve had snarky comments from others saying things like “With the baby? That sounds like a blast” and also others telling us we can’t hike that far/baby animal can’t stay that long in a pack and betting that they will see us in August. Family, friends, strangers and the doctor's office. All have opinions. Much of this is more annoying than anything. We feel confident in what we are doing and have tested everything many times over before. If we stayed home and gave our daughter an ipad for 3 hours a day most people wouldn’t bat an eye, but somehow walking and living outside is the worst thing in the world.

We’ll be packing up food boxes next week. Once that’s out of the way, we’ll have everything done and ready to go. Only about two weeks left until we start walking south!

Happy solstice to all.

AxelHeyst
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

Haters gonna hate. What's that saying? The best revenge is a life well lived? You guys are an inspiration. Thanks for the update.

jacob
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by jacob »

Oohh, that looks like a Disston saw!

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mountainFrugal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by mountainFrugal »

ERE Reframe: You mean you are going to make a journey similar to many of our human ancestors (also had baby in tow), but with all of the safety nets of your wilderness competence using modern equipment, wilderness skills honed in an objectively harsher environment, modern communication technology, modern medicine, food resources, and general societal infrastructure on a well trodden route with many other hikers out there and the option to bail at basically any point if something happens?

Seems crazy NOT to do it IMO? ;)

Add: The Wilderness Medicine Textbook (Auerbach et al.) has an entire chapter on travel with infants and children in the wilderness that I will scan for you... there are only special considerations about differences in thermoregulation, diaper rash and fluid retention if you pick up a stomach bug. Most of the chapter is devoted to discussions in interactions and considerations for preexisting conditions. No where in the book does it advise against it regardless of age (unless extreme preexisting conditions).
Last edited by mountainFrugal on Thu Jun 22, 2023 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bostonimproper
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

Not to add another annoying opinion, but I think it’s really cool and inspiring for you guys to be doing this trip with baby animal. You’re really setting her up to have a rich and intimate relationship with nature from the start, which I think is awesome. Forget the haters.

Also I’m very jealous of your morel haul!

mooretrees
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by mooretrees »

There’s nothing like having a kid to make everyone feel like they can give you their opinion! Well, pregnancy was like that too, just shorter.
We’ve heard all sorts of similar stuff regarding bus life with a kid. I have gotten better at brushing it off as time goes by. I have a feeling that the way y’all are raising baby A you will have a few more experiences where you might encounter similar reactions 😜.
I think it’s awesome and can’t wait to hear how it goes. Maybe her first steps will happen in some epic mountain scene?

mathiverse
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by mathiverse »

Another +1 to thinking your trip sounds like a great plan, a good time, and a good thing to do with a kid. FWIW, I'd rather raise a kid the way you are than the conventional way.

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Seppia
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Seppia »

You know I am a huge fan of yours and your lifestyle, but if one of the “against” voices is the pediatrician/doctors I would suggest you listen.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

Wow, thanks all for the support!

We are open to hearing legitimate criticism, but much of what we have heard is kneejerk pushback where the person is just projecting on what they can't do. Like walking X distance, sleeping outside for however many days or having a kid in a pack. If something doesn't work, we are willing to change our approach or our plans to something that does.

We take inspiration from some families that have done much grander and more adventurous things than what we will be undertaking. For example, there are the Erin and Hig McKittrick of Alaska who routinely go on multi month Alaska trips with their kids. One of their trips was hiking and packrafting around Cook Inlet some 800 miles when one of their kids was an infant and the other was a toddler. Another they spent a month living at the foot of a very remote glacier. All far from any roads and with plenty of big brown bears to keep them company. We will be on a trail, with a wealth of resources in terms of skills and materials as @mF mentioned and will be passing through towns every 4-5 days.
Seppia wrote:
Thu Jun 22, 2023 1:01 pm
You know I am a huge fan of yours and your lifestyle, but if one of the “against” voices is the pediatrician/doctors I would suggest you listen.
To clarify: The comment was not from the doctor but the receptionist at the doctor's office who assured us it would not be fun and would be miserable. If the pediatrician were to make a comment ,we would seek out a second opinion and ask for evidence in the literature to back up what their saying. She hasn't said anything yet, nor did she say anything for our road/camping trip we started when our daughter was 6 weeks old. We have talked with her to discuss what she would recommend bringing in terms of medications/preventative care items and she was very helpful in providing us with some recommendations. Baby animal has no health issues or anything that would suggest the trip would be hazardous to her health. We are not so committed that we are willing to risk her long term health for the trip. If something came up that demonstrated that was the case, we would change our plans.
jacob wrote:
Thu Jun 22, 2023 11:53 am
Oohh, that looks like a Disston saw!

It is! I was very excited when I saw it. I asked him multiple times if he wanted something for it, but he said that he was just going to get rid of it anyways. He got the tools from his grandfather thinking he would do some woodworking with hand tools but never got into it.

Scott 2
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Scott 2 »

I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. That's my only knowledge of the PCT.

I wonder about your plan for keeping baby animal cool and hydrated on hot parts of the trail. That's the biggest risk I can think of.

Strayed also struggled with ice, but I'm sure you've got that handled. You three are starting from a much stronger base than Strayed.
Last edited by Scott 2 on Thu Jun 22, 2023 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

UrbanHomesteader
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by UrbanHomesteader »

I second MountainFrugal's response to family PCT plan.

Looking forward to the next update. I hope it goes smoothly!

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Ego
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Ego »

+3 to @MF's ERE reframe. What a great way to look at it.

Make sure to document all of the reasons people tell you that your plan is a bad idea and also document the things you two are truly concerned about. After the fact, once you've experienced what was previously unknown, it can be challenging to remember what it was like to not know it. Especially the emotions/feelings.

I can't wait to read/hear the stories.

Henry
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Henry »

I bet Baby Animal requests Donner Party themed birthdays.

AxelHeyst
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

Strayed was legendarily unprepared for the PCT to the point it's a term in thruhiker jargon - "That guys pack is Strayed like whoa."

Bringing an infant on the PCT is a bad idea for 99% of anyone, but Mr and Mrs Animal possess relevant skills, experiences, and decision making capacities at a level that are literally not fathomable to most people - the existence of people who can responsibly bring a fresh human on the PCT is outside most people's Overton window.

7Wannabe5
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Sounds like fun! I think this is good timing for such a trip. Just one infant is relatively easy to "carry on" in your chosen lifestyle. If/when you had two kids past carrying age, I would say success of such an endeavor would depend a good bit more on their more developed individual temperaments. As in:

theanimal: Okay, kids, lunch break is over. Time to get hiking again!

smalleranimal1: But Daddy, I am still making my fairy house. See, here are the acorn caps for their tiny plates and ..........................................................and .....................and these leaves are their tiny skirts....and.....

smalleranimal2: NO! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! (runs, runs, on chubby muscular legs) NO! NO! NO! (does the secret yoga pose that all 3 year old humans instinctively know that makes them 10X more difficult to pick up than laws of physics would indicate) NO! NO!NO!

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Jean
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jean »

my gf parents went bikepacking with two infants for several month. It's totally doable.

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Ego
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Ego »

Today a bag full of dried morels arrived from Alaska. Wow. Neither of us have ever had them before. Mrs. Ego immediately began planning recipes. Now we must pick a few friends who are morel worthy to join us for a special meal.

Very much appreciated. Thank you!

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