As far as a PCT update, well I've been packing stuff up in large boxes that I will sort through later, once my departure date gets closer. I have decided again, to lay everything out at my mom's house so that I make sure to have everything. I will two "sets" of gear. Set 1 will be what I carry for Southern Cali and set 2 will be for the Sierras (provided I make it that far). I will also have a box of extra that I leave at home that will have some things that I may decide I want (that can be easily mailed). Also, I will have a bounce box with things that need refilled: ie. batteries, foot lube, toothpaste, etc. I will not be bouncing it to every stop...probably every other.
My goal for the past week was to narrow down navigation and guidebook options. So far, I haven't made much progress towards a final solution, but I have learned a lot about what's out there. Here's what I have so far, the quick and dirty:
The DATA Book:
Great book for mile by mile detail...but not much else. There are no town descriptions, or maps, just mile by mile checkpoints to follow along the trail. It is pretty small and light, so will probably come along on my hike.
The Guide Books:
These books (3 in the series), have incredible written detail about the trail. There are pages and pages dedicated to every mile of along the way, with specifics of every turn and twist. There's also info on the local communities, culture, and history. Included in the books, are nice maps that detail the route. These books are incredible big and heavy and are great for prepping before hand, but not sure about along the trail. I may cut some pages out and carry them.
Yogi's PCT Handbook:
Yogi, a former thru-hiker, created her own handbook that is an invaluable resource to hikers on the PCT. While it mirrors the data book on a lot of it's mile marker highlights, it also has an immense amount of data concerning towns, and hiker hotspots. You will get information on hotels, current rates, restaurants, gas stations, secret water caches, hidden hiker tips along the trail...etc. It is a fantastic resource for those of us that love sucking the marrow out of the towns and zero days.
The PCT Atlas:
Former thru-hiker, Erik the Black, has come out with another solution: The PCT Atlas. These books (5 in the series) aim to combine all of the data from every resource into one solution. The books contain mini maps for every section, tabled data-book style mile-by-mile data, minimal town info and maps, and elevation profiles. An overall great solution, although the town info is limited and the price of these books is rather hefty.
The PCT Official Maps:
The PCT official maps (12 in series), are very nice, water proof maps that cover the entire PCT. They come folded with four sections per map. The maps have marked cut lines so that you can cut only the sections you need. These maps are tough, and include elevation profiles. In combination with the data book, this would be a great solution.
PCTMap.Net (GPS and Printable Maps)
The website, pctmap.net, offers everyone the ability to download topo maps for the entire PCT, with elevation profiles. These maps are up to date and have incredible detail. If you want to go to the trouble of printing them yourself, these could be very useful.
In addition, pctmap.net, offers waypoints (a .gpx file) for the entire trail to uploaded into a GPS. I have downloaded the data and now have waypoints for the entire trail in my Garmin GSPmap 60csx handheld with a resolution of a point every 1/2 mile. The nice thing about these data, is that they are recorded by someone who actually hiked the trail. As you all know, trails move and change over time due to reroutes and various other reasons. These data points, are current as of last year. The only downside is that I would have to carry my gps, and batteries. I may carry it and only turn it on when I'm having trouble navigating...or in the snow-covered sierras.
That's it so far...no solution yet, but as you can see, I have a lot of options.
One other Update:
Looks like I've found a temporary home for my cat. A nice family has offered to take him in for as long as I need. I can come get him at the end of summer, or let him stay with the family in case I go back to Antarctica. I think he'll fit in well with them.