Meet Sammy and Josh, a power hiking couple bearing the beautiful PCT and recent Outdoor Junkiez writers. We are frothing at their unbelievable photos paired with gear filled stories. I guess if you can hike over 2,000 miles together without sabotaging food rations, how can you not tie the knot?
Sammy: For those of you who don’t know the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), it is a wonderful national scenic trail that spans from Mexico to Canada covering 2,668 miles. My fiance, Josh, and myself have been walking on the trail since April 15 in an attempt to thru hike the trail. Currently we are at mile 1,197 in Sierra City, CA (almost halfway!) and I would love to share a story from our trip that I think about often while hiking, but also about the gear that we love.
It was Day 55 on the trail and we were in the heart of the High Sierra. We had spectacular 360 views and new adventures around every corner. ON this day we woke up with the goal of hiking over two high mountain passes, one of which is the highest elevation on the PCT.
We got an early morning start for our ascent up Forester Pass, elevation 13,200ft. The morning was chilly considering it was 6am and the sun hadn’t come out from the tops of the high mountains all around. We stopped for a quick break to eat a snack and look up at the pass that we would be climbing. Josh and our friend Nick bolted ahead up the climb with little issues but I struggled, as I tend to do up a large ascent. I stopped at almost every switchback to catch my breath and take in the view; it was unbelievable up there. I would catch myself paused for an extended time in awe of the view of the Big Horn plateau we had crossed the day before, and the glimpses of Mt. Whitney which we stood on top of two days prior.
Eventually after many breathing breaks I made it to the highest point on the trail, Forester Pass! Josh and Nick had been up there for about twenty minutes and were taking pictures and eating candy bars, I managed to photo bomb one of Josh’s pictures. After a quick break we started our snowy descent. We knew there would be snow in the Sierra but were shocked by the quantity. We carefully navigated down the snowy mountain and even had the opportunity to glissade; slide down a slope on our butts. After hiking from 6am to 11am and only covering a handful of miles we were exhausted and ready for breakfast.
Now this is where I get to geek out a little bit about our gear. Josh and I carry a JetBoil Flash for our stove, we absolutely love this thing. On this particular morning I needed food in a bad way and quickly. For our meals all we need to do is boil water, so having a stove that can accomplish this quickly is a must. This morning is also the morning that we convinced our hiking buddy Nick that he needed a JetBoil in his life. He was using an MSR Pocket Rocket, which is a great little stove, ultra light but not very fuel-efficient.
Nick started up his stove to boil some water for tea and oatmeal. At the same time Josh fired up the JetBoil and 90 seconds later had two cups of boiling water, while Nick was still waiting for his. I started my two cups of water on our stove and by the time it was done Nick was almost to a boil. Josh was eating and I was waiting for my oatmeal to cool down a bit by the time Nick got his water to a boil; talk about oatmeal envy. Needless to say, he was converted. A JetBoil was worth the extra weight since our system provided a more fuel-efficient boil and it can also be used as a mug or bowl.
The JetBoil has one downside: the piece of equipment it uses to create the flame is sometimes hit or miss when it comes to lighting. Fortunately a lighter will still start the flame, it is just tedious that sometimes the button on the stove doesn’t work. Overall I am a lifelong “JetBoil-er” because of its many other wonderful features. Despite the mug/bowl option, Josh and I only use our JetBoil to boil water and not to eat out of. Instead, we carry very light foldable bowls called Fozzil Bowlz. These things are amazing! They only weigh 1.4 oz and can hold a lot of food. Plus once you’re done eating you get to unsnap the bowl and lick it clean, every calorie counts in the backcountry. Nick also purchased one of these because he said it looked like we were having way too much fun eating.
After our wonderful breakfast was finished we continued to hike down the flooded trail and patches of snow. Once we reached the bottom of our descent we needed to refill ourwater; which brings us to our next outdoor junkiez geek out moment. Josh and I use a Platypus Gravity filter. Most people on the trail use a Sawyer squeeze filter which gets the job done, it just requires more muscle work. For our system we simply gather up 4 liters of water into the dirty bag, seal it, get the air bubbles out of the tube and let it do the rest of the work. It takes about 15-20 minutes for 4 liters to filter through but all we do is let it hang somewhere, usually a tree, and sit back and relax.
Nick was using a Sawyer Squeeze, but when he was squeezing it would take him 30-45 min to filter 4 liters and he had to be actively doing the work the entire time; now he is using a gravity filter, talk about a gear converter. Josh and I enjoy the efficiency that our gear has, it allows us more time to relax when we are not walking and this makes a huge difference in the miles we can hike in one day. We are back on the trail and continuing the adventure with full bellies.
We love following Sammy and Josh on their PCT adventure. These Outdoor junkiez will be continuing their journey up to Canada, and we will be checking in on them for more stories! If you want to know more about their travels in depth, check out their blog.
Interested in the gear they talked about? Click on the links throughout the OJz post and we will take you right to the website for more information.