Chapter Two: The Plan
The logistics of a 2,754 mile solo thru hike are not simple. And when these logistics met up with me as the protagonist, a person who has already, 35 years later, flirted with giving up on the project of retelling this story because I find formatting the whole thing the way I want on my computer to be too irritating, my adventurous project was in early trouble.
Fortunately there were several advantages I started with:
I had a good condition copy of “The Complete Guide to the Agua Fria Thru-Hike” by Memory Herschel. It included all the maps I would need, a list of Post Offices for mail-drops of resupply, and an offbeat, entertaining “Can do” tone.
Having gardened in my parents backyard over the past three years I had recently dabbled in growing three marijuana plants. Two of these produced massive amounts of buds (the females). These plants also made me so incredibly anxious because of how illegal they were that I would never do it again. However, this one time, I was hardly going to throw out such a bounty- bags of carefully dried, cleaned, and weighed buds. I had a casual, more social friend, Bob (don't memorize his name as he will not reappear in this story), who was an avid marijuana user (surely there is some kind of slang for that). He was delighted to sell my product to his friends and acquaintances for a hearty cut of the money, product, or both. I had thus amassed just over $1,800 in cash, the first real money I had ever contrived on my own, admitting within that rubric that the world is a village and none of us can truly rise to such magnificent entrepreneurial heights without others.
I had, through previous trips, a use of family gifts, and some cashed in U.S. Treasury Bonds resulting from a Bar Mitzvah, acquired an acceptable kit of backpacking gear. I had a backpack, a roomy tent to hide from bears in, and a good quality sleeping bag, among other, smaller, possibly useful items.
I was ignorant as to the suffering I would experience as a result of this adventure, just as it should be. This, as it is in every endeavor in life, should be considered an asset.
I am as eager to get out on the trail as you are. We will be seeing extraordinary things! So let me guide you through an abridged version of my preparations. Keep in mind that this glib account was, in the living of it, stressful, forced me to interact with far more people than I wanted to, encompassed several terrified changes of heart, endured multiple periods of intense procrastination, and lasted a full four months.
I resolved to resupply as little as possible, being far more frightened of going into towns than of being in the wilderness. To help with this my food was designed to be dense, simple, and require no cooking, thus omitting the need for fuel or stoves. I would eat gorp, a rich mix of nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate, Genoa Italian salami, and seaweed. My parents, who deeply wished I would go to College instead, agreed to mail prepared boxes of pre-addressed, stamped resupply on a roughly three week schedule. A friend, not Bob who I told you would not reappear in this account, was able to commit to giving me a ride half of the way to my trailhead on April 3, 1986. There I would meet a bus that would take me the rest of the way, to the small town of Pequeno Escalante.
And those are the basics.
We are more or less ready to depart. Though I guess there will be some packing first.
Tomorrow: The Departure, or, I mean, packing.