The Attempt Episode 2: “Hart’s Pass, Baby!”
Benjamin and two other thru-hikers set off on the trail.
The Attempt is sponsored by Gossamer Gear, manufacturers of functional ultralight backpacking gear, designed by hikers.
Mom: So we’ve got boxes to send for… two boxes for Benjamin for Skykomish and Stehekin so he can…
It’s 7 a.m. on July 15, 2019. I’m at my parents’ house and after weeks of packing and planning and training, Benjamin is ready to hit the trail.
Mom: I will move it out of here so we don’t – I don’t want you all to leave in the car and then see a thing here I think is forgotten.
So far, my impression of the PCT has been: logistics, logistics, logistics. For the past few weeks, Benjamin has been assembling boxes of food and labeling each one with a date and an address. While he’s on the trail, my parents are in charge of sending those packages to the post offices in the towns he’ll be passing through.
Mom: Benjamin, here’s your tea.
We’ve loaded up the Prius with three giant backpacks – one is Benjamin’s and the other two belong to Antoine and Dennis – they’re also hiking the PCT so we’re all carpooling to the trailhead together. Dennis is from Kansas City and Antoine just flew in all the way from Belgium.
Benjamin: What’s the time change?
Antoine: Nine hours
Benjamin: Are you adjusted to that yet?
Antoine: It’s going to take me a week
Rebecca: Hike in the night. Like, who’s that nocturnal hiker?
Julia: Did everything fit in the car? Nice!
All three packs are in the car. Everyone’s ready. But there’s just one last thing to do.
Julia: Oh mom wants a picture with Benjamin… you definitely look like you’re going to different activities
Dad: Get a picture of all three of us.
Julia: Benjamin’s in the middle. (Click)
Benjamin: Thanks, Rebecca
Mom: OK, go, go, go! Have fun!
Benjamin: It’s 7:05, let’s do it.
Mom: Have a lot of fun. Have a fabulous, fabulous time.
We load in the car – and we’re off.
Julia: You’re listening to…
Benjamin: A Podcast My Sister Makes.
Julia: It’s called The Attempt
Benjamin: I see what you’re trying to do here.
A couple hours into the drive, after a stop at Denny’s for breakfast, I pass Benjamin the recorder and he presses record.
Benjamin: Alright, looks like we’re recording.
Julia: Alright, where are we?
Benjamin: So Julia’s driving us over to Hart’s Pass on Highway 20. Looks like we’re about an hour and 30 minutes away. And I’m in the car with some other guys who hitched a ride up with us from Seattle and stayed the night last night.
Julia: Yeah, you guys want to introduce yourselves?
Dennis: Dennis from Kansas.
Antoine: Antoine from Belgium.
Benjamin: And we’re all – we all have different uh… different styles… different preparation, different bags. And we’re gonna start out together.
Julia: And how did you guys all meet?
Julia: And how’s everyone’s nerves?
Antoine: Uh, I’m cool. Relaxed.
Dennis: We’re here now so…
Benjamin: Cool as a cucumber.
Dennis: Well… just relax and go with it.
Julia: Yeah, yeah.
Benjamin: Julia, I’m gonna kill it.
These guys might sound relaxed, but I’ve driven this drive a few times and I’ve never stopped as often as we do this morning. We stop for breakfast and pee breaks, a break to get Gatorade, more pee breaks. So I think they’re probably a bit more nervous than they’re letting on. Because, once I drop them off at Hart’s Pass, at the trailhead, they’re still 30 miles from the Canadian border. And, thru-hikers aren’t known for taking short cuts, so these guys are going to hike those extra 30 miles north, tag the Canadian border, and then turn back around and hike 2,650 miles to Mexico. I know every time I think about it, I get butterflies in my stomach.
As we start to get close to the trail head, I turn on the recorder again.
Benjamin: Oh man. Hart’s Pass.
Julia: There’s another Prius!
Benjamin: Hart’s Pass, baby!
(Car turning off)
Dennis: Chilly up here.
Antoine: Cant’ believe we’re here. It’s crazy.
Julia: Yeah… how you feeling? Any last words for the recording?
Benjamin: Uh, let’s rock and roll! (Laughing) Alright, quick photo?
Julia: Alright, nice. Yeah, thumbs up everyone!
Benjamin: Julia, thank you so much. See you in a bit!
Julia: Be safe! Benjamin, Rebecca wanted me to remind you that south is down.
Benjamin: Yeah, south is down. She told me that. North up, south down. She also told me she took all the food out of my bag and replaced it with stuffed animals.
Julia: She’s a terrible sister.
Benjamin: Bad sister. Second worst I have.
Julia: Do they know where they’re going? Don’t forget to drink water!
Julia: Don’t forget to drink water!!
Benjamin: Oh, OK…
You’ve been listening to The Attempt – produced by me, Julia Drachman, with help from Doug Beyers. We are a production of Bad Cat media, created in partnership with The Trek – a media company dedicated to thru-hiking and long-distance backpacking enthusiasts. Find all the episodes of The Attempt at thetrek.co/the-attempt. You can find more information about Bad Cat Media at badcat.media. Or you can follow us @badcat_media on instagram and twitter. The music you heard in this episode is from Blue Dot Sessions. Special thanks to Antoine and Dennis for letting me record them in the car. Thanks so much for listening – and if you can’t wait to hear more, you’re in luck! Episode 3 is out now in this very feed.
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