A Call to New Perspective

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A Call to New Perspective

A message to myself, to reframe my view of this year’s snowpack:

Heat, snow, raging rivers, mosquitos, oh my! In recent years you’ve obsessively followed each PCT class. Vlogs and blogs as far back as 2017, you’ve watched to see how different hikers have experienced each year’s varying obstacles. Be it heat in the desert in the late season (Yay, May start date!), record high snowpack years (2017 and… now), accompanied raging rivers through NorCal, mosquito hell in Oregon, and rain in Washington. The beginning of each PCT year is rung in by screams from the void with fear-mongering and woes of what could be. So… what could be? How do you reframe all the negativity? 

Mt. Bachelor Cone overlooking the Cascade Mountain Range

Redefine a Successful Hike

None of us set out to hike the 2,653 miles from Mexico to Canada with the expectation of 24/7 serene beauty and ease. Hiking the PCT means overcoming the elements, the trials and the tribulations. To endure. Enduring in spite of what obstacle impedes progress. Enduring in spite of what you or others fear, pursuing a means to experience a grand adventure unlike any other. Choosing a perspective that allows you to constantly redefine what a successful hike will look like for you. The resiliency to welcome each morning with the curiosity of what beautiful and unexpected challenges are in store. 

“The largest snowpack since the 1950s.” Are you already tired of hearing about it too? Rather than focus on the negativity and fear surrounding the expected adversities of this year, what about the positives? All this snow throughout southern California just might mean shorter water carries and more accessible water sources for us late-season hikers. An opportunity to mosey through the Sierras in a high snow year offers the opportunity to view the mountain range brushed with ivory hues. A view few can say they’ve experienced. A winter wonderland reflecting the sun off its ridges and peaks. Sure, it may be gruesome hiking, but you didn’t sign up for a walk in the park, you signed up for adventure. You anticipate reaching Kennedy Meadows in early June, the dwindling snowpack means potential for warm summer glissades and cooling off in frigid alpine lakes. 

Descending Tumalo Mt.

Not to Burst the Bubble

The positive effects as you reach NorCal, Oregon, and Washington? Who’s to say? Rather than squirm with anxiety at what could be, good or bad, what if you just showed up to find out? What if it turns out better than you could imagine? The high snowpack means the “bubble” (the largest group of seasonal hikers) may be moving a bit slower than usual. Because of the latter, being a mid-May starter and a fairly quick hiker, you’re optimistic that you’ll catch a bit of the bubble early in the Sierras. This, opening the opportunity for a more social hike if desired. 

Full Moon, Virginia Meissner Sno-Park

Active Optimism

You’re optimistic not merely out of ignorance, but because you’ve been active in constructing your optimism. That is to say, you’ve diligently prepared – experimented with gear, completed multiple multi-day hikes, challenged yourself in high snow and low temperatures, and poured over resources for the PCT. You value the insight from other hikers and forums on the potential dangers of the trail this year due to the high snowpack but you challenge yourself and other hikers to discover what new opportunities will be presented because of this new adversity. 

You know yourself and your limits. You’re open to advice from those on the trail; but, you’ll call the shots for yourself. The ultimate disservice would be letting others dictate your hike based on their own fears. This is not to disregard potential dangers but to establish a will to measure your own risk.

Find new perspective in what opportunities a record snowpack means for your hike. Suddenly need to flip-flop? Do you need to backtrack to find a safer river crossing? It’s your right to grieve breaking the continuous footpath or the frustration of the moment, but what amazing experience do you gain from the new circumstance?  Always ask… “What if it turns out better than you could imagine?”


Valuable Resources

Backpacker Radio has now had two amazing podcast episodes on the PCT in high snow years that are worth checking out here:

A book I can’t recommend enough on shaping your mindset for adversity:


I just want to go for a walk. That doesn’t need to be so complicated. 🙂


Thank you all so much for reading! Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask questions, share some love, and give me a follow on Instagram! 

With Love,


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Comments 2

  • Peter R : Mar 29th

    Well reasoned and written. From what I have seen, there tends to be a higher probability of fearmongering on all trails today. Know your gear and how to use it, know your limits and have a plan to bail if needed (and yes – it might be better than Plan A). Loved reading this: “The ultimate disservice would be letting others dictate your hike based on their own fears. This is not to disregard potential dangers but to establish a will to measure your own risk.”

    Thank you for your post, and Happy Trails, be it the one you planned on, or Options B, C or D!

    • Nate Palmer : Mar 29th

      Thanks so much for the message, Peter! Really glad to hear it resonated and very much appreciate your insight! Happy Trails!


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