Recognizing sadness often called the “Nor Cal Blues” and what to do about it
The “Nor Cal blues” are something that I have heard much discussion about on the PCT. There are multiple contributing factors to this general feeling of sadness/melancholy attitude on trail.
*This year is weird since most people have flipped past the Sierras and will be either coming back late season or skipping them altogether. This does play into the overall Nor Cal blues sensation*
1. Hikers are fresh out of the Sierras, which have these stunning views and the thrill of adventure. Nor Cal is much different. There are blowdowns, heat, mosquitos, and burn zones. The snow persists, but not in the same way as the Sierras. These all added together can create a sense of disappointment and melancholy.
2. It’s halfway through someone’s thru-hike by the time they get to Nor Cal. We have been hiking for what feels like an eternity, but we still have halfway to go on the hike. This is a defeating reality when you let that really sink in. The hike can feel overwhelming.
3. The desert was fresh and new, the Sierras give you difficult climbs and shocking views, and Nor Cal just seems like it’s the last bit looming before the beauty of Oregon and Washington. Nor Cal is still in California, which is shocking that you can be in one single state for so, so long. That too can feel overwhelming and frustrating.
Combating the Nor Cal Blues
Mental toughness is required for this. Hikers must push past this section in order to get to what is to come. I am wanting to propose that you can enjoy Nor Cal even if it’s more difficult mentally.
1. Make those miles fun!!! Bring fun snacks, make themed days, download good music and podcasts. Do whatever could make you smile and get those miles done! Appreciate the people and beauty around you and focus on all the good that you DO have.
2. Talk about how you are feeling with those around you. I realized when I started talking about those melancholy feelings to those around me it got so much better.
3. Know that the best is yet to come! Oregon and Washington await! Even though this stretch might not be your favorite, there is so much beauty in the trail to still be seen and experienced! This stretch is quite beautiful; you can swim in lakes and look at the scenery change to the rapidly approaching state of OR!!!
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