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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-18-2006, 01:31 PM   #21
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeBird
As time permits I will add more information to this thread about my investments and just how I have come to "flirt" with about 1/2 million$$ (presently, but continuing to snowball) while in a relatively low-paying profession and I've never robbed a bank yet!!* . Just like committing to hike the Appalachian Trail, it can be done if the idea of FIRE becomes foremost in your thoughts!
Freebird, thanks for posting your route to FIRE.* It's great that you were able to combine your love of adventure with saving enough to FIRE soon, and it's admirable that you chose work that you loved which involved direct service to other people even if it meant modest salaries.

How soon did you realize that you wanted to FIRE?* Perhaps your promised future posting would answer this, so I'm looking forward to it.
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-18-2006, 06:10 PM   #22
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

Thanks for the post... very inspiring to hear from people who are "living the life"!

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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-18-2006, 08:15 PM   #23
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

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Originally Posted by flipstress


How soon did you realize that you wanted to FIRE?*
Thanks for the kind words. After some thought I'd have to say that I could only claim hold to the "FI" of FIRE as a goal until recent years. To actually retire early is something that didn't have a strong hold on my thoughts during the early years and like I previously stated, I only began to "invest" at about age 32. I had some cash stashed away but I didn't discover the sense of investment via stocks/bonds until then. Sure wish that I'd had the internet back in the '70's!*

I believe in life-altering events and I'd also have to say that my first such experience came during my late teens when I crashed my '72 Cutlass Supreme into the backside of a parked car while delivering my daily 450 newspapers during my college days. Liability insurance had just ran out so my dad literally saved my life in that situation and it took me a few years before I completely recovered. Story made short:* I've never been in debt since and you might say that I was "scared straight". Whether it's a* new house, a pick-up truck, or a book... I've always paid cash or I don't get it, Period. I've never been in debt since my late teens. Even today I begin shaking at the very thought of being in debt to anyone or anything at anytime. For whatever reason I am a fiercely independent spirit. Living within my means has been embedded into who I am just like my eyes are blue.

I believe that the "RE" part entered into the mix rather recently due mainly to the fact that I just ain't no spring chicken anymore. You might say that "it" found me when the reality of the aging process began knocking louder at my door. I'm probably one of a very rare breed when I say that I have always loved my job. If I were to make a list of advice for young seekers of FIRE (and I am) I believe that I would have to put at the top of that list to first seek out work that you really love. Life is sooooooooo short that I have never been able to grasp the idea of "hating my job".

Having a lot of money and finding a way to retire early was never at the top of my list, but I believe that part has been fulfilled because I have always worked the hardest at uncovering a meaningful life. Taking this a notch furter I've always looked at my entire life as retirement because if I'm finding immense joy in what I'm doing and getting paid for it, then "What is work?"*

Ok, let's go one notch further... sorta like the old saying, "having your cake and eating it too"...I also found work that allowed me to leave for long blocks of time to persue my love for outdoor adventure and my so-called "real job" was always held for me. Yeah, these trips did take a lot of money and delayed a "normal" retirement by many years but that just isn't how I look at life. My work AND my travels made me a very wealthy person in more ways than one.

Everyone has different interests and different paths but that's how it worked for me. Unfortunately most people just blindly follow the path of least resistance through life mixed with a good dose of cultural brainwashing, thus never really finding out what they were sent here to do.
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-26-2006, 01:24 AM   #24
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

Freebird -- I'm salivating over that 9-lb pack weight. Whatcha you got in there? Store-bought, home-made, or some combination thereof?

I seriously doubt I'll ever through-hike the PCT in one go, but I've been known to spend a couple of weeks at a time crossing the Southern California desert. When I'm humping three gallons of water I get pretty serious about reducing the weight of everything else.

Any tips would be most welcome. (I've read Ray Jardine on the subject, but am always open to new ideas.)

Thanks, and Happy Trails to you!
Caroline
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-26-2006, 08:07 AM   #25
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

BTW - Does anyone have a website that outlines and highlights some of the hiking trails?* Maps?* Etc.?

This is a decent one for canoe camping expeditions

http://members.aol.com/Mmcbs/

Full disclosure - I would rather hump a lumper*
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-28-2006, 12:12 PM   #26
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

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Originally Posted by Caroline
Freebird -- I'm salivating over that 9-lb pack weight.* Whatcha you got in there?* Store-bought, home-made, or some combination thereof?
Sorry to reply so late... seems that a cyber glitch allowed me to miss the new updates as they occured. Anyhow, I hope that the following is helpful.

First, be aware that ultralighting is certainly not a method of backpacking for those who don't yet have a sound knowledge of backcountry travel or experience. Safety must never be compromised so a thorough study of ultralight gear and hiking methods must include a lot of time spent in research, thought, and experimenting in the backyard and short overnight trips before you wander too far into the wilderness. Once you have achieved that level of confidence in using ultralight gear then I consider it as safe as the heaviest of gear.* The following gear list is the result of my own personal progression from heavyweight, to lightweight, and finally ultralight.

While hiking the Appalachian Trail in '94 the base weight (less consumables such as food & water) of my pack was 25 + pounds. Over the years I began to research and study lightweight gear and methods which trimmed my base weight for my 2000 thru-hike of the Colorado Trail down to just 19 pounds. Then, thanks to the internet and great e-groups like Backpacking Light http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BackpackingLight/ I have now entered the realm of ultralight backpacking with a total base weight of under 10 pounds. Heavyweight backpacking is usually considered anything above 20 pounds. Lightweight usually falls between 12 to 20 pounds, while ultralight is below 12 pounds. Most ultralight backpackers base weight for 3 season hiking is under 10 pounds.

As for homemade gear I did make my cooking system which is listed on the list below. I would be happy to post detailed instructions on making it if there is an interest.

The only major item that has changed on the following list is that I switched to the "Ultralight Adventure Equipment P-1" backpack which weighs 22 ounces: http://www.ula-equipment.com/ for my 2002 Appalachian Trail thru-hike. (They might have renamed the pack since then.)

Total weight overview (for 2001 Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike):
Total base weight without cold weather or desert gear..........................................136. 6oz./ 8.5 lbs.
Total base weight with extra desert gear.............................................. .................143.5 oz./ 8.9lbs.
Total base weight with cold weather gear.............................................. ..............176.9 oz./ 11.0 lbs.
(Add/minus designated sleeping bags & Jagbags for cold gear)
Total base weight if I would only give up 18 oz. of luxuries (camera, film, tripod, radio receiver, batteries) "Fat chance"!.......................................... .......................7.4 lbs.

Color coding :
Kit type arrangements noted (in bold black)
High Sierras and North Cascades only (in red)
Desert only (in blue)

Base Gear (non-consumables) :
13.1..................GoLite "Breeze" backpack (medium)
3.6....................EMS Fanny Pack (To distribute weight to hips while hauling 6 to 7 liters of water in desert.)
8.8....................Cassin "Ghost" ice ax (60mm) (also use as short tent pole in Sierras)* 1.5....................Sunglasses w/snap case (Wal-Mart)
0.7....................Silva Compass & lanyard
1.0....................Money, Credit card, phone card, insurance card, drivers license(in zip-lock bag)
0.7....................Swiss Army knife "classic"
0.4....................Insect repellant (in Rembrandt breath freshener bottle)

Shelter/ sleeping :

13.5..................Tent/Tarp, sealed w/ guy lines ( Henry Shires design) http://www.tarptent.com
2.8....................2 Easton tent poles (drop short pole in Sierras ...use ice ax- 0.9 oz. savings)
1.9....................8- 6" titanium tent stakes (packed in groundcloth)
16.0..................Western Mountaineering" "Highlite" sleeping bag (+40 F.)
3.2....................2.0 Mil plastic ground sheet (Wal-Mart)
1.0....................Kelty Triptease line (35 feet for bear line, tarp, etc.)
5.7....................Mt. Washington "evazote" foam sleep pad (cut to 3/4 length)
2.8....................Jagbag "standard" silk sleeping bag liner
4.8....................Jagbag "Endura"Silk sleeping bag liner
28.8..................WM "Ultralite" sleeping bag- +25 F. (w/LW Gear sil-nylon stuff sak)


Clothing :

0.0....................No spare hiking shorts (Wearing quick rinse & dry supplex)
6.8....................Thor-Lo crew hiking socks (2 pairs)
0.9....................Cotton bandana (Wal-Mart)
8.5....................Frogg Togg rain/wind parka
7.5....................Railrider's Adventure pants (supplex)
3.6....................Silk Skins long underwear top (Campmor)
4.0....................Silk Skins long underwear bottom (Campmor)
2.7....................Thermax balactava (REI)
1.1....................PolyPro gloves (Campmor)
8.0....................Moonstone Cirrus vest (REI Outlet)


Cooking...plus :

1.0....................Homemade combo pot holder/windscreen for Esbit fuel tablets from coffee can top.
4.2....................MSR Titan Kettle (titanium)
0.4....................Bic mini-lighter
0.1....................8oz. Styrofoam cup (fits snug in kettle and is crushproof there)
0.3....................Lexan plastic spoon
0.2....................Can opener (p-26)
0.7....................Iodine (in 35mm film canister) (Wal-Mart)
5.1....................SWA water filter bottle 1/2 liter
1.3....................2.4 liter Platypus water bag
1.0....................1.0 liter Platypus water bag
1.3....................2.4 liter Platypus water bag
1.0....................1.0 liter Platypus water bag


Repair Kit :

0.8....................Duct tape
0.2....................Toothbrush (water filter cleaner)
1.8....................Batteries (camera, radio, photon lights), safety pins, sewing needles in 35mm canister
0.1....................Dental floss & nylon saddle thread (for sewing)
0.2....................Extra writing pen

Hygeine Kit:

0.3....................LW Gear small net bag
0.3....................Toothbrush
0.2....................Dental floss
0.4....................Toothpaste (half full travel size)
0.4....................Purell hand sanitizer (in Rembrandt breathe bottle)
0.1....................Plastic hair comb
0.1....................Razor (disposable)
0.4....................Campsuds (in tiny Rembrandt breath freshener) bottle
0.8....................Toilet paper in zip-lock

Office Kit:

1.2....................Journal (5-loose 9 X 6 pages in brown file folder)
0.2....................Writing pen
1.7....................Guidebook sections w/maps, data book
1.1....................Reading glasses w/snap case (Wal-Mart)
0.5....................2 Photon flash lights (yellow & turquoise)

First-Aid Kit:

0.1....................Band-Aids
0.1....................Neosporin
0.1....................Gauze pads
0.2....................Imodium AD tablets
0.3....................Ibuprofen tablets
0.6....................Moleskin
0.3....................Butterfly strips
1.0....................Sunscreen

Survival Kit:

0.4....................1 box Coghlan's waterproof matches & 4 birthday candles
0.4....................Bic mini-lighter
1.8....................Emergency blanket

Luxury gear :

7.8....................Olympus Stylus Epic camera/ zoom 80 w/film
1.6....................Mini-Tripod for camera (Campmor)
4.8....................Sangean DT-300VW radio receiver w/headset & batteries
2.0....................Extra film (3 rolls in zip-lock bag...no plastic canister
0.2....................REI keychain thermometer

_________________________________________________

Consumables :
7.5....................Esbit fuel tablets (0.5 oz./ea.) in ice bag (5 days @ 1.5oz./day)
160.0................Food (3 nylon/net bags of various sizes) 5 days @ approx. 2lbs/day
1.0....................Vitamins/ w zip-lock bag (5 days worth)
?.......................Water ( varies...rarely carry, except for desert section)

On my body/ wearing :

5.1....................REI "Super" hiking shorts
2.5....................Silk shirt (Thrift store $2.99 special)
3.4....................Thor-Lo crew hiking socks
27.5..................NB 803 all-terrain running shoes w/Superfeet insoles
1.7....................REI Solarweave Sahara Hat
1.0....................Watch (basic Cassio)
0.3....................Chapstick (30 SPF)
0.5....................Mosquitto head net (lake region of Oregon only)




Quote:
I seriously doubt I'll ever through-hike the PCT in one go, but I've been known to spend a couple of weeks at a time crossing the Southern California desert.* When I'm humping three gallons of water I get pretty serious about reducing the weight of everything else.

Any tips would be most welcome.* (I've read Ray Jardine on the subject, but am always open to new ideas.)
Since I've made the conversion to ultralight backpacking as a general rule I never carry water during the day. However, the 650 mile desert section of the PCT was the one exception. The local hiking clubs advertised to hikers in a very high profile way in this desert section and provided plenty of water caches along the route, but I personally decided to not gamble on this and chose to always have enough water with me to make it to the next water hole...however, with my ultralight gear I knew that I could easily do 30+ mile days and so I never had to pack more than a gallon of water.

I hiked the remaining 2,000 miles to Canada without carrying water on my back. When your pack weight is so low it is easier to cover a LOT of miles in one hiking day so I knew that I could always make it to the next water source. Besides, water is virtually everywhere from the Sierra's to the North Cascade's.

In the morning while eating breakfast and packing my gear I would "camel-up" drinking as much water as I could handle, whether I needed it or not, so in effect I WAS hauling water but it was much closer to my body's center of gravity inside my stomach and NOT on my back. Once again, I wouldn't reccomend hiking without water until you have a lot of backpacking and wilderness experience under your belt.

Hope this helped and I'd be happy to elaborate on any questions, just be patient as I will eventually get to them and thanks for asking.

*edited to change color coding: yellow & pink suck!!*

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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-28-2006, 12:48 PM   #27
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

Quote:
Originally Posted by wildcat
BTW - Does anyone have a website that outlines and highlights some of the hiking trails?* Maps?* Etc.?
This might be more than you were looking for... "The Trail Database" http://www.traildatabase.org/
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-28-2006, 07:08 PM   #28
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

We need a new designation for Freebird - I'm serious
I don't know what it is but he is an inpiration for us all.

Thanks for posting.
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-29-2006, 02:10 PM   #29
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

I read an online version of this book last year, but I can't find it on the web any more.

http://www.angelfire.com/trek/nz_usa/

This guy hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and wrote about it with great wit.

If it's in your library I'd definately recommend it.

-helen

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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-30-2006, 01:15 AM   #30
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

Thanks for the kind comment Helen
Came across your post whilst surfing instead of hiking!

I'm the guy who wrote the story you mentioned, Dances With Marmots - A Pacific Crest Trail Adventure

I've just recently decided to go ahead and get the book published after receiving many queries as to whether it was available in book form, so to give it a chance, the remaining 8 chapters and Epilogue are no longer online.
If anyone is interested, the paperback (6x9, 263 pages, 24 B&W images) is available directly from the printers through a link from the above site.
It's also available through Amazon.

My royalties are somewhat less than royal, but I'm hoping to maybe get a new pair of boots out of my scribblings!
Cheers, George.
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-30-2006, 05:27 AM   #31
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

Hey George !

I will definately get a copy from Amazon. I very much enjoyed the online version and I'm glad you went ahead and turned it into a book !

Best regards,

-helen
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-30-2006, 09:25 AM   #32
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

Freebird - I really appreciated the post of your full gear list! It gives us all inspiration even if we never get off the couch!

I'm still an ultraheavyweight according to your criteria, but you've inspired me to think light. I am hoping to broaden my backpacking experience this summer. We are mostly "weekend warriors" at this point, but want to try working up to a couple 5 day outings this year. Since we live up here at the north end, I am hoping to do some bits of the PCT to get a feel for it. Need to research those options.

I would like to read about your custom made cooking gear, but maybe PM me, as I don't sense huge interest amongst the majority of the ER's?

George - I'm ordering the book too -I love reading about the PCT. Very good writing! Will you make better royalties if we order via the publisher than Amazon?

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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-30-2006, 10:30 AM   #33
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
I had a professor in law school who is half way through hiking the Appalachian Trail with his son (I think the son is 13).*
I took my dog on a 3 mile walk yesterday at the local Reservoir. Do you think I'm ready to tackle the Appalachian Trail?*

Boy it was pretty yesterday. Low 70's and plenty of folks hiking, jogging and fishing.*
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-30-2006, 01:51 PM   #34
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

Hello Sheryl and Helen,
Hope you enjoy the book!*

Yes, the royalties are better for me if ordered from the Publisher's site (publisher is in the US)
That is where Amazon get the book from anyhow, and as usual the author is at the end of the 'feeding' chain!*

As* a matter of interest, at the back of the book, I've included a list of all the gear I carried.
In retrospect there was not much I would prune out.

I envy you who have the PCT on your doorstep. I've done a fair bit of hiking now, and even though here in New Zealand and other places I have been have some magnificent scenery, the PCT remains etched in the brain as my most memorable and varied experience - maybe as much for its historical 'western' interest as for its scenery.
I'd encourage anyone to have a crack at it, I guarantee it will become one of the 'milestones' in your life!
Cheers, George

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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-30-2006, 07:20 PM   #35
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

George,

Wow, I can't believe that you're on this site! I remember reading your website some time ago and really enjoying it! Glad to see that you were able to publish it!
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-30-2006, 07:44 PM   #36
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

George: Many thanks for adding to the thread from a fellow PCTer! I don't know why but I seem to have met and hiked with more folks from New Zealand and Switzerland than any other non-USA country while on my thru-hike. One such New Zealander hiker really turned me into a mango lover, teaching me how to cut them and to pack them out of trail towns. Ever since I always have pleasant thoughts about NZ and the PCT when I'm enjoying a mango!

I especially connected with this quote from chapter 1 of your book:

"Iíd also discovered from my investigations, that some hikers on this trail had eaten over 6000 calories a day from their packs and still managed to lose weight."

I honestly must say that this is one of the best parts of living on the trail because I don't have to count calories! In a trail town I can eat all the ice cream, all the french fries, and all the high fat foods that my heart desires, although as I've begun to age more I do try to eat more healthy. While on the trail you're literally always starving for more calories and my greatest weakness was probably packing way too much food. Just couldn't get a handle on it!

Sheryl: I'll send you information on how I made my 1 ounce cooking stove, so let me see if I can figure out the PM system. :
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-30-2006, 08:12 PM   #37
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

Sheryl: Better yet, perhaps it'd just be easier for you to go to my website at
Dave's Outdoor Adventure Page

Just click the "Pacific Crest Trail" link, then click "Gear Reviews" and you'll find a detailed description plus photos of the stove.

Be sure to have your pop-up blocker engaged. Got tired of paying the extra $$ for ad free site about a year ago. They also lowered the bandwidth so if you don't get on first try then try again tomorrow.
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-30-2006, 10:50 PM   #38
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeBird
Sheryl: Better yet, perhaps it'd just be easier for you to go to my website at
Dave's Outdoor Adventure Page

Just click the "Pacific Crest Trail" link, then click "Gear Reviews" and you'll find a detailed description plus photos of the stove.

Be sure to have your pop-up blocker engaged. Got tired of paying the extra $$ for ad free site about a year ago. They also lowered the bandwidth so if you don't get on first try then try again tomorrow.
Thanks - I had no trouble accessing the site - I will be reading it for weeks - or until it stops raining in Washington. :P

Lots of great info there, thanks!
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-31-2006, 02:31 AM   #39
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

Hi Freebird,
Yeah! Food becomes a really interesting subject when you're on the PCT!
Probably the only time in my life that I actively sought food with high fat content in an attempt to prevent myself from vanishing into thin air!

Checked your site out and noted that you too used what I think of as the 'camel' method - drink as much water as you can before setting out each day and that way you need to carry less. I was forever sloshing off into the sunrise with a bloated belly that threatened stability!
Cheers, Geo.


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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE
Old 01-31-2006, 09:39 PM   #40
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Re: My "unconventional" route to FIRE

Hi again, George !

I can't believe I am corresponding to a celebrity ! Your writing has stayed with me since I read it. I told so many people about it and imagined myself on the trail. I'm sure I would not have the physical endurance to accomplish the task, but mentally I think I could.

I'm curious, are you retired now?

Somehow I see a correlation between hiking the PCT and saving for early retirement. Maybe both require an obsession and a propensity for some pain to reach a goal ?

Warm regards,

-helen
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