101 days on the PCT
Why I quit and what I learned from 101 days on the PCT
I’ll spare everyone the journal entries from the last few days on the PCT. To be honest, they were quite negative and just not worth even sharing.
Here’s a brief synopsis of what happened: we spent a few days at home, I was feeling really restless per usual. We had to skip Oregon because of the fires, so we rented a car and drove to Portland. I was a wreck by the time we got to Portland, I’ve been running on fumes for a while now. Things didn’t feel right, but we tried anyway.
We made it about 30 miles north of Cascade Lockes and just didn’t want to do this anymore. Angler and I both decided that we were happy with walking home to Belden, and neither of us had the same drive we did before we made it to Belden. So we quit. We hiked back to Cascade Lockes and drove home again, this time for good.
What contributed to quitting:
The main reason is just the general feeling of “not right” once we got to Washington. I really take those intuition type feelings seriously.
I wasn’t having fun anymore. Admittedly, I generally haven’t been having fun for a while. Having my brother hop on for CA section M reminded me of what fun was, and I hadn’t felt that in a while.
My feet are fucked. I’ve spent a small fortune on shoes at this point and I just don’t think my feet are ok enough to hold up for the beating that thru hiking gives.
My body is also sore. Constantly sore. I never seemed to adjust to the weight of the pack. The miles also never seemed to “come easy” for me, I just felt like I got more wrecked the longer I went on for. I also started feeling really malnourished and exhausted all the time, I just couldn’t eat the right type or amount of food that my body needed.
It was too crowded. They are good people, but I need more space than I could generally find on the PCT.
I was getting bored. Mindlessly following a trail all day got pretty old. I think I prefer something a little faster and lighter.
I didn’t have enough time. Maybe it was the late start date, or the slow pace in the beginning, but I wish I had time for more side trips, not that I had enough energy to do them.
I was chronically sleep deprived. My insomnia was 10x worse on trail than at home (even at home I sleep a full 8 hours maybe 3x a week if I’m lucky). Weeks and weeks of sleep deprivation got to me.
I spent a lot more money than I wanted to. I spent a little over 9k. After my vertigo, I realized my body needed an adequate break at least once a week. And real food. All that really adds up. Not to mention the million pairs of shoes, and 4 sleeping pads because the durability of some ultralight gear really sucks.
I need more alone time. I wouldn’t have had fun solo, but hiking with a partner also had its own set of challenges. And the main one is me becoming socially exhausted because I didn’t have enough space for long enough.
The PCT was a wonderful experience. Despite all the negative mentions above, I have had some of the best days of my life on trail. I am deeply grateful for the experience, this has changed me in ways I never expected. The PCT was honestly nothing like expected, I didn’t get what I thought I would from it, but it somehow knew exactly what I needed.
A few key takeaways that I’ve had from this journey:
I am a lot stronger than I thought. A lot of things that once felt impossible feel entirely possible now.
Attitude is everything. You can have a good attitude and make things a little easier on yourself, or you can have a shit attitude and guarantee a shit day.
Life isn’t linear. It’s constantly changing, and the more you fight it, the harder it is.
Sometimes, especially with things you cannot control, you just gotta roll with the punches.
Things don’t matter nearly as much as you think they do. The universe is a big place, we are impossibly small, as are some of our problems.
Being nice goes a long way. Karma is probably real.
Knowing your limits. If you have a bad gut feeling, listen. Your instincts know things that you don’t.
Expectations set you up for disappointment, having an open mind that’s flexible to change is the key to self growth.
Don’t get stuck in your ways. Just because something has always been one way, doesn’t mean it the right way or the best way.
You don’t know shit. And neither do I. Nobody does! Nobody is the expert and it’s ok to not know.
Don’t compare yourself to others. You don’t know their hidden struggles anyway, and everyone has them.
I learned to try harder. If you spend less time complaining and more time genuinely trying you can actually make some really good progress.
Being patient and kind to others opens you up to meet some super amazing people. Being patient and kind to yourself opens you up to the amazing person that you can be also.
Whatever you go out there to find, you won’t find it. The trail will give you what it has to offer, and the rest is up to you to figure out.
Lastly, the PCT will not solve any of your problems. It will admittedly make some of them worse.
My backpacking career is far from over. I have a lot of goals I’ll be working towards at home, so if you’d like to follow along with me, add me on Instagram @ hike_more.
Thank you to everyone who has read all of these, and who has supported us in any way.
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