Well, its official. I'm heading to California to do some hoboing (without the house). I requested a month off in June, and got approval yesterday, so I've purchased my cross-country Greyhound ticket and am makin' plans!
When I quit my old job and switched to a wage position with State Parks, I had a few objectives in mind. First was to free up time on a daily basis, so I could do more relaxing, reading, hanging out with friends, etc. Second was to free up time to build my house. And third, I wanted to be able to take off at least a month to do a section hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Objectives #1 & 2 are continually "in progress". Objective #3 wasn't really even started until today, May 18th. My bus leaves in less than three weeks, on the 8th.
Initially, I figured pulling off a section hike of the PCT would be simple, similar to going out for a weekend hike on the Appalachian Trail (throw some gear in a pack, drive to the trail head, put one foot in front of the other, return). My brother asked me a couple weeks ago how my planning was going. I shrugged my shoulders, "Planning? Not really doing much, other than planning on getting a train ticket to California and hiking to the trail, then buying another ticket back. Or not." But as I started reading about the trail some more, I realized that I didn't even know how to get there. What town would be a good start? Where to end? What buses run where?
So, I invested $46 and purchased Yogi's PCT Handbook, a handcrafted collection of trail wisdom from various individuals that have thru-hiked the PCT. Let me say here that I am glad I did. By the end of my hike, I think I'll say the same. Originally, I thought I would hike a section from Oregon to Washington, since I've never been to those states before (that was honestly my only reasoning- I didn't care where I hiked, just that I could claim that my shoes had crossed state lines). CLOSED. Not legally, but physically closed to hiking until sometime in the mid-summer. Most hikers start in Campo at the Mexican border late April/early May, hike an average of 25 miles/day, and arrive in Canada sometime mid-October, not because that's the nicest weather to hike- its the only weather to hike. Until mid-June, the Sierra Mountains are basically impassable due to snow and ice (a mind blowing concept to this east coast native).
With this knowledge, I've rerouted my itinerary to arrive in Palmdale, California and hike 20 miles to the trail at Agua Dulce, where I'll head north (destination? TBD). Why Agua Dulce? Well, mostly because the name sounds sweet (sorry, I had to), but it also should position me for entry into the Sierras after some of the snow has melted. Some. It looks like ice ax and glissading techniques may still be required, but I'll face that challenge another day.
Other challenges: Its hot in the desert. Its cold at night, every night. Bears like human food- not me, per se, but things like Cheetos and Twinkies tickle their taste buds, so much so that sometimes food has to be carried and stored in bear canisters (think giant Nalgene bottle). Snow is slippery. And it hides trails. Cacti puncture stuff. And, I'm gonna be spending a solid two and a half days on a bus. Each way.
Why am I taking a bus? Well, hobos don't exactly hop rides on planes, at least that I or the TSA are aware of. I've flown to Reno before (my only time flying), and it was cool, but I really didn't get to see anything along the way. I've never been to any of these states before, so ground travel will give me the opportunity to see some new sites and check places off my list. Originally, my mode of transportation was going to be Amtrak. But, as I got closer to departure date, ticket prices started going up, well beyond the reach of my wallet. Advance ticket purchase for Greyhound cross county: $140.
Yes, after working a low paying job for the past year, and building a house, I am broke. And, as of right now, I still don't have anywhere to live in my house (its not even finished!). Some would see this as a terrible time to take a month long expedition. In some ways, yes, that's true, but the one advantage of having such a small income is that when its gone, do you really even miss it? Right now, most of my wages are going towards taxes, gas, and rent. Well, actually mostly just taxes. I will have bus ticket, gear, and food expenses while traveling, but otherwise, everything else will be limited. My plan is to move out of my current house at the beginning of June (to where is still unknown. Walmart.) so I won't have to pay rent while I'm gone. Insurance, credit card bills, property taxes, etc. I'll pay before I leave.
If you couldn't tell, there's a lot of uncertainty with this seat of the pants trip. I predict I'll face a lot of challenges along the way. But, isn't that what hoboing is about? I can't wait to see all of these new places and once again live simply from just what I can carry on my back. Thanks to everybody who has supported me in my crazy endeavors in the past, and to those who can spare a minute, please say a prayer for me!