Jon’s Perspective: Before the Hike
The author of this post is Jonathan Hogan. He’ll be guest blogging and sharing his perspective throughout this wild adventure.
Within Salt Lake City Utah is a room that lies beneath ground level. The room is carpeted and adorned with several lamps whose heads droop like orchids emitting a soft glow creating a cozy atmosphere. It’s the room in where I live with the love of my life, the lead writer of this blog, Shaina. Our bed resides on the floor next to an outdated heater that has proved insufficient in keeping us warm during those cold winter nights. Two dressers rest against adjacent walls, one of them, Shaina’s, falling apart piece by piece as if it were never capable of containing the wardrobe of such an extraordinary woman. Between the dressers looms a door, but I’ll get to that later. The only other thing that might strike you should you wander aimlessly into our dwelling would be an ever growing stacks of books, the ever inviting “have yet to read” pile facing opposite the smaller yet status loving “already read books”.
You may wonder “Why is this fool spending so much time spouting nonsense about a room when, clearly, this a blog devoted to chronicling the adventures of the PCT hiker?” Well, my dear reader, there is a prologue to this long hike that Shaina and I are about to embark on, and if you happen to be interested in “where we are going”, the context of “where we were” may perhaps add some flavor to what will follow in the months to come.
Salt Lake City is the longest I’ve lived in a place since I was 18 years old (been here two ½ years), and my job at a wilderness therapy company is longest job I’ve ever held (job number 41). I spent my twenties moving from one place to the next trying to find the elusive “self-discovery”. Without getting into the long and short of it, the experience of my twenties created many a thread of personality. Each thread floated alongside an increasing number of threads created by some such experience. The metaphor here is that my life was wispy and frayed, and my time in Utah wove those threads into a strong durable rope, an unflinching knowledge of the man I had become. Now I’m thirty, and no longer concerned with “finding myself”.
However, we only get one chance on this earth with a finite amount of time to spend with those who matter most. When I weigh the options of continue working at a job in which I am burned out and no longer challenged, or hike the entire west coat of the US with the love of my life, well, it’s not really a contest. Seven years ago, I hiked the Appalachian trail, an event that was preceded by the death of my younger sister, Abby, who overdosed on heroin. While hiking the AT allowed me to overcome the worst of my rage, I’ve always had to contend with the fact that maybe it was a selfish act, removing myself from my grieving family which also deteriorated not long after Abby’s death. While knowing that I would one day hike the PCT, years passed in which my relationship with my family improved while I bounced around the globe and this country of ours constantly followed by the ghost of loneliness. A ghost that lingered until I met Shaina.
Without getting into the details of our love story (although it is epic and even the most calloused of cynics would grin slightly at its charm) Shaina and I began our life together. As wonderful as life with each other is, a future in Salt Lake City seemed dull. Our cozy room became stifling, subterranean, dark, cold. A room so wonderful, and yet a room that needs to be left behind. I mentioned earlier a door that inhabited the space between two dressers. The door opens to a large walk in closet whose walls are comprised of foundation stabilizing cinder blocks. Hibernating in this space is the gear that will sustain us on our long trek. Gear waiting to be used with growing expectation and excitement. Doors that seem to lead to nowhere can sometimes contain the greatest hope and possibilities…
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