The nuts and bolts of our PCT preparations: Conditioning

On a rainy and windy Sunday in mid-January it was time for Gabriel and I to really start training for the PCT. We opted to suit up in our rain gear and go for a conditioner up the Old Mt. Si trail (yes, this popular trail was selected for its ironic charms). The hike was lovely and less crowded than expected; likely thanks to the blustery weather.

Gabriel’s poncho held up well and he got ideas on how to make modifications for it to perform better in the wind. While I decided that I might actually want rain pants after all (dry warm legs would likely be worth the 6 to 12 ounces it would add to my pack weight). On the way down the hill, we hiked barefoot for a good length of the trail (Gabriel more so than me); great fun on a wet winter day!

And so began our conditioning and gear refinement for our 2011 PCT hike.

This winter and spring Gabriel’s approach to conditioning consisted of “do something active roughly 6 out of 7 days a week” which entailed cross training: hiking, skiing, scrambling, snowshoeing, running, or biking depending on the day and weather. My conditioning involved considerably more desk time, but I did do most of the training to run a spring marathon; with distances ranging from 3 to 18 miles. I also got in a few snowshoe trips, backcountry tours and (lift-served) ski days up through the last weekend in April. Thankfully it’s been an injury-free first half of the year for me and only a minor injury (one broken toe) year for Gabriel.

We are planning on “continuing our conditioning” for the early weeks of the hike as this will be our first opportunity to continuously hike for more than 10-15 miles/day over consecutive days. Besides the first day’s 20.6-mile stroll from Campo to Lake Morena, we intend to average about 15 miles per day for the first three weeks on the trail. After that, we’ll assess how we feel and hopefully bump up our mileage to 18-20 miles a day.