Five Good Reasons To Hike the CDT
1. To Finish My Triple Crown
When I set out on the AT many years ago I didn’t realize where that trail would take me. It not only took me to Maine, but it led to many new experiences as well. Along the AT as my mind wandered I definitely thought about the Triple Crown and it gave me a little giggle. Along the PCT as my mind wandered I thought more about the Triple Crown, and it gave me a little more excited giggle, realizing it was closer to realization. I never thought this entire thing would come to fruition. So many big and little decisions in my life have brought me here and I could not be more excited. The Triple Crown consists of about 8,000 miles of backpacking; that’s crazy. I am a crazy person, but maybe a good kind of crazy.
2. Timely Investment
The Triple Crown and thru-hiking in general has become such a priority and time commitment for me. Looking back on the time and energy I’ve spent thinking and planning thru-hikes since I first decided to do the AT in 2014 is incomprehensible. Both the AT and PCT took me a little over four months to complete, which is a time commitment in and of itself. However, also consider and add the research and time dedicated prior to each hike. I easily invest hundreds of hours to researching each trail.
Now some people do not have the same approach and they might do less planning and figure it out along the way. I respect that and maybe even wish I could do the same, but that’s not my style. I enjoy the planning aspect. You should see my spreadsheet collection. At this point I feel I need to finish my Triple Crown just to justify every minute and hour and day I’ve spent in the past on these hikes, both in preparation and actual hiking time.
3. Mental Test
I enjoy the mental test that comes with thru-hiking. Hiking nearly every day for over four months takes mental dexterity and fortitude. If you start the thru-hike only focused on the end goal your hike will not go well; it is as simple as that. Looking at the entire trail as a whole is completely overwhelming; it’s terrifying. It takes a delicate balance of staying focused on each individual step while also keeping the end goal in mind. That is difficult.
If you stay solely focused on the present you may get lost in the present. This would cause you to make decisions that would put the future of your hike in the balance. This could affect your trail finances. Such as if you end up taking more zero days and stay stuck in a trail town you love. This present mental form could make you even hike in a physically unsustainable manner. If you decided to hike an entire week of large miles and then end up taking a few zero days after because you wind up hurt, that is a sustainable strategy. In the world of thru-hiking consistency is key. However, I will go out on a limb occasionally and do something crazy.
4. Ah, Push It
My physical ability has always been a huge part of my life. I played soccer growing up, which eventually led me to playing in college. Then my fitness became an even larger part of my life. During college I spent a lot of my summer days out training on a track or out running trails. So naturally I always enjoyed pushing my physical limits and this has stuck with me. So the physical aspect of thru-hikes is something else I tremendously enjoy.
I greatly enjoy pushing myself and my body. On the AT my brother and I averaged about 17 miles a day. My brother and I were a little bit different back then in terms of pushing ourselves while hiking. On the AT I would say my brother was a little more subdued, and he played a vital role in being a little more realistic with planning and hiking. Which looking back I am grateful for.
Comparably the AT felt a little more relaxed than the PCT, partially because of my brother’s style. Along the PCT I did enjoy pushing myself and wanted to see what I could do physically. I averaged about 22 miles a day when it was all said and done on the PCT. On one occasion my hiking group decided to hike from Old Station across the Hat Creek Rim all the way to Burney, Calif., during the night in one go. After a resupply stop in Burney we continued to Burney Falls to finally enjoy a slumber. If I remember correctly it totaled about 45 miles; that was a push of my physical limits.
I’m the type of hiker, especially if I am solo, who will keep track of my miles every hour just to keep track of my pace. I keep myself busy with these little pace games and try to outdo myself every time. This is just one way I’ve found to pass the time and the miles.
5. Memories and Fun
Lastly, I am hiking the CDT for the memories. While spending four to five months months out in the deepest wilderness of our country we will face challenges, and with these come great memories, both positive and negative. The highs will be higher and the lows will be lower, but I wouldn’t expect anything less and I will embrace it all. Then to have an opportunity to share these raw life experiences with my sibling is something indeed special. I am looking forward to it so much.
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