This is a bit long winded and very difficult for me to discuss but I hope you can all bear with me as I’m kind of baring my soul and will be attempting an extremely unusual endeavor that has the potential to elevate me to greatness or suffer great failure and humiliation.
I’m not really an accomplished backpacker with regards to speed or long trails, but this summer I intend to change that.
I’ve long wanted to accomplish some kind of hiking accomplishment/record etc but with a full time job and advancing age my dreams seem to be slowly slipping away. So during this last year I’ve really done some soul searching and thought about something I can do to “leave my mark”. Realizing that I don’t really have any kind of physical ability I’ve decided to take a unique approach – namely doing something that has never been done before, at least as far as my extensive research over the last 6 months has revealed.
PCT section J is approximately 76 miles in length and traverses the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington State. It’s a spectacular and a fairly challenging hike due to the elevation changes. There have been numerous records set on this section, both hiking and ultra running. I have no illusions of breaking any of these records set by individuals much more gifted than me. So I’ve thought about doing this section via alternative forms of transport. It really surprised me that nobody had attempted to do this section on a mountain bike, but the reasons became obvious once I looked at the regulations. A good portion of section J goes through the alpine lakes wilderness area, where no mechanized transport is permitted – specifically,
“Motorized and mechanized equipment
Motorized and mechanized equipment are not allowed, including bicycles, carts, wagons, chainsaws, hang gliders and off-road vehicles and other wheeled vehicles. Landing aircraft, air dropping or picking up supplies, materials or people are prohibited.”
I’ve researched this extensively and what it boils down to is that anything with wheels or a motor is not allowed.
However, I’ve discovered a legal loophole that is not accounted for in the legal restrictions for federal wilderness areas. I’ve gone so far as to contact the US forest service, both on the national level and the local district (Snoqualmie-Mt Baker National forest) requesting an official list of prohibited mechanized equipment and I’m very confident the loophole exists.
What I’ve determined, after considerable expense in both money and time investment is that pogo sticks are not restricted in wilderness areas. It makes perfect sense when you think about it, since they don’t have wheels, and hiking sticks/trekking poles are already permitted. I’ve gone so far as to solicit legal advice at no small cost and my attorney has indicated after a lengthy investigation that pogo sticks, in the context of being used during backpacking or hiking activity, for forward travel on an established trail, legally fall under the same category as hiking sticks and trekking poles, provided they are used as an assist device, especially but not necessarily limited to and due to some kind of physical limitation or impairment, under the direct control and usage of the owner, and since hiking sticks and trekking poles are already permitted in wilderness areas, pogo sticks are therefore legally permitted by de facto inclusion. There are a few limitations with regards to usage, for example I can’t use a pogo stick for recreation purposes, such as standing in one location and jumping up and down without there being practical forward motion. But my attorney has indicated that as long as I use the pogo stick as a transport assist device with forward motion, at a rate deemed reasonable, and that I am in direct possession and control of same, and that I am the legal owner, that it’s perfectly legal and permissible to use that specific pogo stick as a transportation assist device according to the wilderness regulations, both local and federal.
Determined at this point, I will have to say that I still was met with considerable resistance from the forest service, being that the local rangers issuing the permits where skeptical about all this, expressing liability concerns, and other fabricated obfuscations, and I had to later return and have my lawyer present and threaten legal suit. It was eventually agreed that I would be required to sign a liability waiver to obtain the necessary permits. I was at one point even persuaded to offer a “gratuity” to the permitting ranger, who offered no resistance, and gingerly proceded to expedite the necessary paperwork.
With all the legal and monetary hurdles out of the way, earlier this month I purchased this off road pogo stick:
(I have the MX1-L model)
I have been experimenting on the trail with it doing short overnight trips. Climbing hills is a little difficult but I am confident I can complete PCT section J in just 3 days using the pogo stick. If it ends up taking longer it won’t really matter though since nobody else has ever done this, therefore I’ll be the first in history and will be in the record books!
The one main obstacle though is my regular backpacking backpack bounces violently up and down and is totally unsuitable. I think the solution is to use a small backpack designed for runners that will be more stable with the up and down motion.
I would appreciate any advice and recommendations on a suitable backpack. I’ve got a preliminary gear list, and expect to have a base weight (excluding the pogo stick) of about 7.5 lbs excluding food/water.
My main criteria would be a pack that is robust and extremely stable with up and down motion, with minimal external straps, and capable of handling a weight of 7.5 lbs plus 4 days of food (I’ll carry an extra day’s food just in case). I don’t need the capability of storing water externally. Water is plentiful on the trail, so I’ll probably just use my steripen and 750ml water bottle which I’ll store inside the pack.
I've created a website where you will be able to follow my record attempt beginning July 6