Little Crows New Name

We leave tomorrow.     Because of things our of our control we had to put off our departure by one day.   We will still be starting out hike on the 21st.  The shuttle waits for no one.

All the boxes are done, taped up and handed off to friends Karin and Denise, who will mail them for us through out the summer.   They know what they are getting into because they did this job for us on our PCT hike.   We have figured out the last of the equipment issues.  There are just a few little things that still need to be bought.  We are working hard on getting the house ready.  Mama Raven is cleaning it from stem to stern.  She wants to leave a good impression on the people staying here.

When we did the PCT in 2015 we had one person stay at our house to take care of the pets the whole time.  This time we will be having two people stay at different times of the summer.  However, we do not have anybody for the last week of August and September.    Frantically,  we are trying to resolve the issue.

Little Crow  is growing up quick and she wants a new name that does not make her sound like a “little” girl.  Thus, she will be hunting a new name on the CDT.  Mama Raven has  suggested Yo-yo, ?  But I think someone else should name her, that way it will not be bias.

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One Week To Go

Only one week before we drive out of here and head toward New Mexico.  We are still working hard with many last minutes tasks.  The boxes are almost finished and ready to be taped up.  It seems we have been saying that a while, but there always seems to one more item here and there that needs to be added.  A well worn tire  path  from our drive way to Wal-Mart and back home has been established these past few weeks.  Additionally, we have been cleaning up the house and getting it ready for the people who will be staying here and taking care of our two cats, five tortoises,  and one fish tank of misc critters (Betta fish, frogs, sucker fish and a snail).   At the moment, we do not have anyone who can stay at our house the last week of  August and the next three or so weeks of September.  Hopefully, we will  have a solution.

Bling and Little Crow have a little more school work to finish.  Bling has to do some work on solving quadratic equations, and take a biology test.   Little Crow needs to finish reading  “Abe Lincoln Grows Up”.   Meanwhile, Mama Raven is sewing pack covers.  Normally we do not use pack covers for rain,  although we are going to try them out this year.   Pre-made covers a range from $40-$60 each.  Since there are four of us, that becomes too expensive so we decided to make our own.   We found an inexpensive kit that makes very light weight covers.

https://ripstopbytheroll.com/collections/diy-kits/products/pack-cover-kit

We also made  warm mittens for the same reason.  One pair of light weight gloves cost $30-$35.  Again, times that by four, and it becomes too cost prohibited.  There is quiet a bit of gear that most long distant hikers use that we can only wish for such as the Neo air insulate pads.  They are $160 each.  We make do with our foam pads and we sleep well on them.

Papa Raven is getting our taxes done and trying to figure out how to strap the snow  shoes to our backpacks.   The list of tasks goes on.   Nonetheless, we will be ready to go  Monday whether it all gets done a not.

On Monday we will drive to Blythe for the night.  Then we will drive to Papa Raven’s dad’s house, in Arizona.  After staying there a day, Grandpa Raven will drive us to Lordsburg, New Mexico.  In the morning we will catch a shuttle to Crazy Cooks Monument.  The drive to Crazy Cooks is not gentle on cars.  It is a 3 hours ride on 4-wheel drive roads.  The shuttle service says “You may be requested to help dig the vehicle out of sand, help with flat tires, or deal with other vehicular issues.”  Also if it had rained recently the roads could be impassable and washed out.  Getting to the starting of the trail could be interesting.

There are four other thru-hikers, we know, that will be hiking the CDT this year.  Each of them hiked the PCT in 2015, the same year we did.  First is Rabbit, we do not have any contact information for him so we do not know where he will be or when he will start.  Second is Dundee, who is starting  May 1.  He is a fast hiker,  thus he should be able to catch up to us.  The third thru-hiker is Treeman, who is from Germany; he is starting today.  Treeman was with us the snowy day Bling’s femur broke   He just finished the Grand Canyon’s Rim-2-Rim-2-Rim.  With luck, we will catch up to him in a few weeks.  The fourth hiker is our good friend Catwater from Alaska!  We will have no problem encountering her, because she is starting the same day we are.  In fact, she will be on the shuttle with us.   Our hiking schedule lines up with hers for the first few weeks.

We can’t wait to start walking!

Getting Ready

We have been doing a great deal of work getting all of our food boxes ready.  Currently we have 30 food drops, so the entry of our house is lined with boxes full of food, maps, and miscellaneous equipment.  We are mailing our food a little differently from the PCT.  When we hiked the PCT we mailed all of our boxes from San Diego.  We used paper boxes.  In many cases these boxes had a lot of extra room.  Most boxes weighted about 33 lbs filled with food and supplies for four people.  This method was not a problem for drops in southern/central California, but as the food drops got farther north, it became very expensive to mail the boxes.   Sixty to seventy dollars a box was the average price to mail to central and northern Washington.   Since we are hiking this trip on a tight budget, we had to find a cheaper way to resupply.   This year we will be using the largest priority mail boxes which ships at a flat rate of $18.85 per a box.  Our big concern was how small the largest priority boxes are.  Since there are four Ravens involved, our supply boxes are four times bigger than the average thru-hiker’s.   We will need anywhere from 1 to 3 priority boxes for each re-supply point, especially for the longer six and seven day drops. Mama Raven spent a great deal of time re-packing each box, meticulously fitting every candy bar, trail mix, dinner, and misc. supplies inside the boxes.  We eliminated  non-essential bulky food items that could easily be purchased in the towns. To our amazement, she was able to get 4 days of food into one 12″x12″x5.5″ box.  Our biggest food drops will take three boxes, luckily there are not too many of them.  Nonetheless that is still cheaper than one big box.

Papa Raven has been busy going over our old gear, and trying to decide what should be replaced and what can be kept.  Our biggest purchases has been a new sleeping bag for Bling, who has out grown his old one and four new backpacks to replace some very tired and worn out packs.  There is something sad about switching to a new backpack after so many miles together. The old pack has been worn so much, it fits the body perfectly in all the right spots.  It has traveled with you through the good and the bad.   They become a close friend.  Nonetheless, as the miles march on, holes and rips and fabric fatigue takes its toll on the pack.   Ours are riddled with on trail repair jobs of duck tape and stitches of dental floss.  Straps are fraying.  Out of necessity, our old friends are being casted away for shiny new ones.  Then there is the equipment we have never needed before, namely MICROspikes, snowshoes, and water proof socks.  Having very little experience with this type of equipment, we needed to do a lot of research before we could decide on the right type.  We choice MICROspikes for our crampons, MSR Evo 22 snowshoes and Dexshell water proof socks.

Another big job is getting our house ready.  We will be having a family of five staying here while we are gone.  They will be taking care of the cats, tortoises, and fish.  We need to pack up all of our clothing and put the boxes out in the garage.  Also a little maintenance needs to be done and then the house will be ready for them.

A long overdue announcement

WE ARE GOING TO HIKE THE CDT!!

Sorry for the delayed announcement.  After making the final decision to hike the trail, our priority has been focused on preparing for the trip.   Since we have such a short time to get ready for the CDT, there has been very little time to do anything.  Homeschooling Bling and Little Crow  takes a large chunk of time.  Having Papa Raven unemployed has been a blessing because Mama Raven could not do it all on her own.

On 4/21 we will start hiking north on the CDT.  Our current plan is to thru-hike the whole trail in  5 1/2 months.  Our starting date is later than we would like, but if we start too early,  we will have too much snow  in the San Juan Mountains.  Another factor that effected our starting date, was that the shuttle to Crazy Cooks Monument will only take 10 hikers a day and it  runs only on specific days of the week.  By the time we signed up for the shuttle,  earlier days were already taken.  Most thru-hikers starting at Crazy Cooks Monument take the shuttle because the drive out to the monument is 3 hours long on a very poor maintained 4×4 road.  Most vehicles can not make it.  The shuttle service also provides on route water for hikers the first five days of the trail.  This is very useful because there is very little water in southern New Mexico.  We will attempt to keep updates during our preparations for our hike, however due to our busy schedule, there might not be many.

Decision

To hike the CDT or not hike the CDT. That is the question on the minds of The Ravens. After completing the PCT in 2015, we assumed a typical routine life waited for us upon our return home. Papa Raven would get a job, Mama Raven would be a mom and Bling and Little Crow would go to school. This would be our life until the kids graduated from college and Papa Raven retires. Being a software engineer in San Diego, California, we had no idea how difficult it would be to find employment.  We asked someone, who requested a resume, how many have they received for that specific job? His response was nearly three hundred from all over the country and they are still receiving more applications. It has been a stressful period . . . too stressful. Maddening is what I call it. Waiting and waiting for something to come along and never does. After such a long period of time looking, with no luck, one kind of gives up.  We have imaged all the possible reasons why Papa Raven has not gotten a job yet: too old, unemployed too long, over skilled, under skilled. Papa Raven genuinely enjoys programming. It is what he has done for over twenty five years. Nonetheless, perhaps the traditional life we once had, is not the path we are supposed to follow anymore? Is there something else we are meant to do? If so, what is it?

So here we are with no commitments to a job to tie us down and living off of our retirement. If we were financially situated, we would be completely content with the rest of our lives hanging out together and never going back into the rat race. But that is not our situation, income is necessary. Additionally, there is great satisfaction in work, in doing something you love, and providing a life and security for one’s self and family. The idea of another long thru hike only existed in the far off future when Papa Raven retired. Cautiously, we are wondering if that far off dream is instead right now before us. All common sense says “no” to another long trail. In fact, the list seems to be a mile long why we should not hike, while the list why we should hike is short . . . but powerful. Staying right here in the situation we are in, with no prospects, is eating away not only the nerves but also the soul. Through the thick, gray, haze of fear and uncertainty, it is difficult to see clearly what our family is supposed to do. We literally need someone to reach down and physically point us in one direction or another. There are four of us to consider, not just Mama and Papa Raven. What is best for all?

A break away from the quagmire of our life is needed. The pull of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) is strong. Great ideas come from taking long walks and being surrounded by natures loving kindness. Perhaps the economy will be better and a job will come more easily after we return? There are those who will understand the lure of a long trail calling and encouraging us. However, there will be those (especially family) who will consider us to be irresponsible with our decision. There are many “what if’s” to wade through regarding this decision. Is there not a reason for a burning desire in the heart to do something. Could it be a higher source directing us in a way? Is it ever wrong to follow one’s dreams? After all, there is no telling where it may lead!

Mama Raven, January 2017

P.S. The Ravens plan right now is to continue with the job search as we prepare for the CDT. If job comes along, we know what path we are to take. If there is no prospect of a job, we will take a little walk on the Continental Divide Trail.

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Trinity Alps, CA, Aug 2006

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Bling’s (5) first trip carrying a pack. 55 miles around the Three Sisters, OR, Aug 2007

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Little Crow (4) – 64 mile loop around the Yosemite high country. Aug 2009

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Bling (7) – 64 mile loop around the Yosemite high country. Aug 2009

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Guitar Lake below Mt. Whitney. JMT – July 2012

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Little Crow (7), Papa Raven, Bling (10). The end of the JMT, Yosemite Valley. July 2012