poles, packs and AMTRAK . . . .
- Just a reminder here––I've used AMTRAK to get from SF to Yosemite a bunch of times and it has always been a pleasurable, seamless, experience. I've never had a problem carrying on my hiking poles, but then I've also never brought them upstairs.I would not waste your time checking in your backpack, once you get to Emeryville––just take it with you.When you get on the AMTRAK train, you will be asked to not sit downstairs (unless you are too old to climb the stairs or in a wheelchair) and if they see you upstairs there with a backpack, fifty things dangling from it, they will tell you to store it downstairs, just at the door where you got on.This is a combo bike-rack/suitcase area. I would suggest that you of course have all your valuables on you: wallet, passport, camera, keys . . .Just make sure that everything is cinched down tight on your pack, all the zippers closed and that the head of the pack goes in first.Again, I've never had any reason to fear for the security of my pack, but I guess a few years ago, someone returning from a successful JMT, had their backpacks stolen or at least rifled through, so that they lost cameras and so on. Not a great way to end your trip.I am usually solo, but it's not hard to pick out your fellow backpackers . . . they're there sitting on the Embarcadero, and they're (came up from San Jose or Oakland?) there waiting in Emeryville and of course, once you all get off in Merced––there you all are.Get to know them, or at least set up a tag-team system where you all take turns watching the backpacks when you get to a stop. No one wants to lose anything before their trip has even started and just a word, a little push, towards the possibility of thieves will have everyone pitching in.And again, AMTRAK is not riddled with thieves at every stop, bent on ripping off your pack, but . . . a little caution and cooperation doesn't hurt, plus it gives you a chance to know a few of the hikers you'll probably seeing for the next few weeks.Most of the stops from Emeryville to Merced are quick––a minute or so, but there are a few where they sit there for five minutes, usually doo to train activity. This is always a good time to have someone posted at the packs.Another thing that you should be aware of is that a lot more people are going to get on and they'll all be humping large suitcases that they will end up throwing on top of your backpack––I usually stand around down there if only so I can re-arrange my pack so that it will be easy to get to when I hit Merced.BOB