A few days ago, I wrote a Part 2 update to the Van Project. I’m close to a Part 3 now. But before then, there’re so many things that’re on my mind, that I think an interim entry is warranted.
- First, time is moving fast, like the final weeks before a college final. Today’s the last day of April. Construction on my house is confirmed to be done in 2 weeks. Escrow is confirmed to close on time, in 3 weeks. Then, my van trip starts in less than 4 weeks.
- On the trip: It’s been shortened to two months, from my original “at least three”. Originally, I had no set date to return (my employer’s extended 100% remote work to the end of the year). Other than getting to
- Bryce Canyon by Friday, 5/28 (to run 37-mile race on trail at altitude on Saturday, 5/29);
- Yellowstone two weeks later (to run a half marathon on Saturday, 6/11); and finally
- the Glacier National Park another two weeks later (to run another half marathon on Sunday, 6/26), I was in no hurry to get back.
- But now I plan to get back by Sunday, August 1st. Why? Because by Friday, August 6th, I’ll be back on the road — this time for a 14-16 day backpacking trip along the southern half of the Sierra High Route, with Sean. At this time, I’m some 95% confident I’m going.
- While Sean and I talked about this last year, and earlier this year, it never occurred to me that he might invite me to join him on this fairly challenging trip. It’s challenging enough that his mom (an accomplished rock climber and backpacker) asked me two weeks ago to “take care of Sean out there.” Of course, as she said this, all I could think was “it’ll probably be the other way around!”
- So here we are. Certainly, until last weekend, I never thought I’d be making a backpacking trip an “A-race” (a term runners use for their top-priority goal race for a season or year, vs B or C races). And certainly, up until a few weeks ago, I thought the house buying process and my van life stint were going to be my biggest projects and sources of uncertainty (and excitement) this year. But now I have a third contender, one where I might really face a “real” life-or-death situation.
- That said, many accounts I’ve read of the SHR mention that the whole route can be backpacked between 14-21 days. Since Sean and I will have some 14 days for a little over half of it, I think we’ll be fine (and by “we”, I really mean “me”). Compared to Beveridge last year, I should be more acclimated to altitude for this trip. And hopefully, I’ll be able to get more real-life training in, over the next couple months visiting national parks, forests, and such.
- So what about the van project? With 3 weeks left, I have almost all my major components now.
- For electrical, this includes (1) a 100Ah AGM battery, (2) 200Ah LFP battery, (3) a battery monitor and shunt, and (4) 300W of portable solar. I’m on the fence about rooftop solar (which I’ll likely glue on, rather than drill on).
- For water, I’ve received (1) a 4-gallon electric water heater and (2) a 2.9gpm water pump. I have a 25-gallon freshwater tank arriving in the mail any day now.
- Finally, for work on the road, I’ve gotten (1) a portable standing desk, (2) a 4-foot folding, height-adjustable table, and (3) cell phone signal booster.
- All that’s left now is to hook everything together (and ideally secure them somehow inside the van, without any drilling). But this “hooking up” part is perhaps the trickiest. I’m double-checking and triple-checking that I have wire gauges and lugs sizes right. I’m also double-checking and triple-checking that I have the right fittings and hoses too. As I mentioned in my Part 2 write-up, I’m glad that I don’t have to worry about a propane system (and safety) for this trip.
And that’s all I have today! I never thought I’d be so interested or invested in learning basic electrical and plumbing skills. It’s more fun than I’ve ever imagined. Along the same line of thought, I never thought I’d be going on the SHR before the JMT (my original backpacking goal this year). I’m also amused that this is all happening while I’m working full-time (as well as volunteering).
What strange turns I’m taking in life.
Oh, and bonus diagram for anyone reading this on this blog rather than directly on facebook:
I’m fleshing out some details. I’ll discuss them in the Part 3 update (EDIT: Next journal entry, on May 9th)