From PCT to PNT: The Journey
To start at the beginning requires context, so hi, hello, welcome to my journey– the pre-journey.
Have you ever felt destined to do something? As if a magical force has grip of your arm, gently tugging you in a direction. A whisper that’s heard within the confinements of your mind? For many long distance backpackers, thru-hikers, dirtbag connoisseurs, dipping into the life of hiking big trails starts as a dream. A calling if you will.
In 2020, I was set to hike the PCT going northbound, starting May 13th. I had spent countless hours planning, scheming, preparing and gathering specialty foods and gear for my resupplies. Driving around Portland, Oregon going from co-op to co-op, grocery store to grocery store, snagging all the very specific foods and snacks my heart desired. The amount of times I had gone through my gear, weighing it, entering it into lighterpack, carefully deciding what was a must, and what could stay home. My permits were set, gear was dialed, flights were booked, I was ready. Years of dreaming, months of scheming, things were finally falling into place. My journey of the PCT was about to begin.
Well, slowly but surely my 2020 PCT NOBO crumbled before me and turned into a 2020 PCT NOGO.
Devastated. When I tell you that I went through the stages of grief, I mean I felt -all my feelings- and then some. As a Pisces sun with a Cancer moon, that’s a pretty large wave of emotion. It’s hard to express the gravity of what it feels like to have something slowly ripped before you. What were my options now? Maybe a SOBO? Would the pandemic die out enough to salvage my 2020 plans?
Back to the drawing board I went.
2020 became the year of road trips, hiking the Long Trail, and planning my next year goals. Would the PCT be extra crowded in 2021 from all the other NOGOs? What other hikes could I do, while still feeling good about my risk mitigation during a pandemic? Was I ready to begin logistics for a whole new trail? Ultimately I decided that the PCT would go on the back burner for a while.
Somewhere down the line, a pal mentioned the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT), and explained that it was shorter (1,200 miles), but extremely rugged. From massive elevation change to long, aggressive bushwhacks, the PNT would traverse through one of my favourite parts of the US. Beginning at Glacier National Park in Western Montana, following the Canadian border through Idaho, over to Washington, ending at Cape Alava on the pacific coast, the PNT is a westbound/eastbound trail in the Pacific Northwest. Through the heavenly waterfall filled Glacier NP, to the huckleberry adorned hills of the Selkirk Mountains. From the alluring Pasayten Wilderness, to the exquisite mountains of the Northern Cascades, the magical views of the Olympics, and up the rocky shore of the pacific coast, the picturesque scenery will have your body engulfed in charm.
My mind was set, back to square one.
PNT 2021 here I come.
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