A New Life at Three MPH, Up Close and Personal

Hello, I’m Roger Wahler (trail name: Old School, but that can change). I would like to start my introduction as most of you will identify me as a senior citizen. I will turn 63 while thru-hiking the PCT this year. I like to think of myself as turning 21 for the third time. In my first career out of college, I was a park ranger. Then my second career was 36 years of working for the US Army all over the world. Now I’m starting my third career as a PCT thru-hiker blogger. I wanted to see our beautiful country, but not by flying over it at 30,000 feet or zipping past on the highway at 70 mph. I want to experience it at a human pace, three mph on foot, up close and personal. I love canoeing and bike riding because I am the force that moves me along. This thru-hike will be another self-powered adventure.

I am blessed that I don’t have to hurry to finish the PCT for any artificial deadline, like starting a new job, returning to school, or even running out of money. All thru-hikers have the natural time constraint of finishing before the winter snows. So I have made the choice of doing a flip-flop. I start out early at the Southern Terminus, hiking NOBO for half the trail, then jumping to the Northern Terminus and hiking SOBO to complete the PCT. A flip-flop will maximize my time on trail so I can take my time and savor every aspect of the experience. It is not a race to the finish. I like the theory that the last person to finish “wins.” I can still twist an ankle or break a leg, but I have planned to move at my natural slow pace and finish.

I have done a multitude of day hikes with my loaded pack. I may be a senior citizen, but my pack is only middle-aged (46 years). I’ll start with my old pack and see where it can take me. If the old backpack can’t make it, then I will upgrade to a new backpack. The rest of my gear is new. In a later post I will be detailing all my gear and why I picked each item. Hopefully, it will help the next thru-hiker to dial in their own gear. The one gear choice that may be questionable is the choice of going with a hammock setup instead of a tent. For my old bones I have gone with the hammock to get a better night’s rest. I know that it will be harder to find a proper place to hang the hammock, especially in the desert section at the start, and I will be reporting on how that goes.

With the exceptional rains that Southern California has been getting this winter, the wild flower bloom will also be exceptional. It may also be another big snow year in the Sierra Nevada mountains. As of the second week in February the snowpack is right at 100% of the average. Way ahead of last year.

So now I must go do another training hike. This year on the PCT if you meet the old guy with the old pack, introduce yourself and make a new friend.

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