5 Questions I get about Thru-Hiking the PCT (and my answers)
That’s right! My first extremely click-bait(ish) post. There were questions that people had before I started the Appalachian Trail, most of which seemed quiz-like. The questions were about logistics. The people wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into. Now that people know what I’ve gotten myself into, and that I’m about to get myself into it once again, they’ve got some different questions.
Q: Is that the one Reese Witherspoon hiked in “Wild?”
A: I mean, sort of. Cheryl Strayed did and yes, that’s who Reese Witherspoon played in the movie Wild. And while she looked damn good when she won the Academy Award for it months after it was released, we all know if she was a thru-hiker, she would have most likely gained around 15 pounds by the time award season rolled around. It’s just what happens. Anyways, if anyone reading this does happen to be in touch with Reese, please let her know that if she wants to do a sequel and feels like method acting, I will be starting at the border of the US and Mexico at the end of May and would love to hike with her so that next time someone asks, I can just say “Yes. The one that Reese Witherspoon hiked.”
Q: You’re working 18-hour days? Aren’t you tired?
A: The short answer is yes. I’m completely exhausted, but not for the reasons you may think. I’m not just tired from waking up before sunrise and being on my feet all day. I mean, isn’t that what I’m working these crazy days for anyways? So that I can wake up with the sun, or early enough to watch it rise. So that I am not just ON my feet but using them to trek through the desert and up and down mountains for months. The way I am living and working now is fully my choice and I am fully aware that some people work just as crazy hours just to put food on the table. What does make me tired is having to be in good spirits when I’m having a rough day. As much as I love the service industry, it’s having to wrongly admit that I’m wrong when I’m not. It’s having to pretend I’m not tired when I am because you just ordered your coffee and don’t want to hear me complain or even cry if I answer honestly. I’m tired not only because I don’t get a lot of sleep but because then I have to go all 18 hours pretending that I’m well-rested. I can’t wait to stop pretending. I can’t wait to just be tired and sob or scream or stop and rest and write about it. I can’t wait to be tired and cranky, as long as it’s on top of a mountain or underneath a sky full of stars.
Q: Wasn’t the Appalachian Trail enough?
A: Enough is an odd word because I find it to be positive, yet I know this question is a way for others to further express that they just don’t understand. Well, when it comes to enough, I can’t get enough of the outdoors. I’m going to keep doing this trail life thing until I complete all three long trails in the US, knowing the entire way that I am enough. And I think trails are “enough”, too. The Appalachian Trail is enough. I’m sure the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trails are also enough, as the phrase is implied. These trails are enough in that they are naturally beautiful and don’t need to change, but deserve to be embraced, protected and promoted. Everything’s enough but it’s not going to convince me to stay put.
Q: What are you going to do after you get back?
A: Believe it or not, I got big plans. My family and family friends are probably hoping this means I’m ready to restart my career. Or that we’ve set a date for the wedding (we have not). Honestly, I’m probably going to write about my confusion and about how much I miss the trail, just like I did when I returned from the Appalachian Trail. I’m going to find a few more jobs that I genuinely enjoy, save as much as I can for a little less than a year, and then attempt to thru-hike the Continental Divide Trail. I am going to try and convince Zach Davis, if it’s not already in the works, to create a Continental Divide section for The Trek so that I can continue to write for this site (and make another rap video for the Badger Sponsorship). And yes, as noted, Henri (Rooster) and I have a wedding to plan. So we will do that and we will get married and continue to answer all of these sorts of questions about the wedding and about the trail, probably until we are married with kids and have full time salary jobs with benefits.
Q: What are you running away from?
A: I’ve gotten this one from really great friends, as well as complete strangers and it’s the question that initially causes my blood to boil, but ultimately urges me to take a deep breath and answer honestly. I know what running away from things feels like and my thru-hiking is not it. Running away from things feels like growing up with anxiety and an eating disorder and controlling myself to the point of not feeling anything. Running away from something means controlling every aspect of it. It means turning away from real, supportive relationships. Running away means not taking responsibility for your actions and for your own life. What I am doing is the absolute opposite of running away. In fact, if you want to run away from your emotions, I suggest you stay as far away from nature and from challenging yourself as physically possible. If you want to run away from good relationships, don’t make friends on the trail because they’ll be the most honest people you’ll meet and you won’t be ready for that kind of authenticity. If I choose to spend my time looking at other beautiful faces, wild animals and plants instead of in mirrors and under artificial lights, I personally don’t consider that running away. Instead, I’d say that I’m placing myself in the environment I belong. But, if you’re still set on me running away from something, I would say that I’m running away from a very unnatural society and clutter that doesn’t deserve a home in my head.
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Heck yeah! Preach!