Breaking the Silence, from NOBO to NOGO
Reality Setting In
It has been months since I was supposed to start my northbound Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike. I never made any official announcements because part of me did not want to accept that it was not happening.
I held onto hope as long as I could. With being from California I had the luxury to wait till the last minute to make the decision. Three days prior to my permit date, May 4, I panic bought a few items thinking to myself:
“Screw it others are getting out there, let’s do this!”
It was just a few hours after that I came to my senses, and it finally started to sink in. I was not going to make my start date. Bottom line, I respect the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) and know they have the trail and welfare of its people at heart when releasing their statements saying to postpone (current statement). I then knew with 100% certainty that I would not do a thru-hike of the PCT without the PCTA’s blessing.
Holding onto Hope
However, I was still not ready, at that point, to renounce my PCT thru-hike attempt for 2020. I held onto a slim hope that the PCTA’s stance would change by mid May. Then I could be able to find a way to weasel myself onto the trail heading north after all.
The next few weeks I was a wreck, bouncing between maybe it will happen and what do I do now? There were two things keeping me sane during that time: keeping up with my training program with Trailside Fitness and probably the most important, hashing it out with a few other PCT hopefuls.
How I Coped
I have been working with Lee at Trailside Fitness for over a year now. He has been a saint and huge help in assisting me to get into better trail shape. I am happy to say I now feel confident physically to start whenever the green light is given. I will definitely continue with his trainings until my time finally comes and probably beyond.
Social media has connected me to many PCT hopefuls for 2020, and being able to talk it out with some other people in my same situation made coping a lot easier. I was able to identify a few people (I think you know who you are) who aligned closely with how I was feeling and my viewpoints on the issue of whether to hike or not.
There were times these conversations would go on for what seemed like hours of us pouring our hearts out and trying to figure what the right thing to do was. We went back and forth whether to go, but ultimately landed with a similar decision.
The Reasons Why Not
This year was not what we wanted the experience to be. We wanted to be able to enjoy everything the towns had to offer, from sitting around tables enjoying pizza and drinking copious amounts of beer. What fun would a zero day be if you were stuck in your hotel room the whole time? Having stores be limited for resupply would make shitty situations (quite literally) a lot worse.
We didn’t want to miss out on the trail angels and trail magic that will likely be fewer and farther between. Hitching into these town days was bound to be a lot more difficult. Going into town just seemed more like a chore then a needed respite from countless miles.
I Officially Canceled
It was May 18 when the PCTA released a new statement still recommending avoiding long distance travel on the PCT. On May 19 I finally canceled my permit. I had made peace with it not happening. Bottom line was I did not want to hike with any apprehensions. The PCT is mentally tough enough as it is, and if I was not 100% sure I was doing the right thing I know that could have been the demise of my hike.
For a short while I held onto the idea of possibly going SOBO, but in the end I know that is not what I wanted and I would come to the same decision.
I am now focusing on the positives that I can take away by delaying my hike to hopefully next year. My biggest concern with starting the hike this year was money. I have already stashed away almost double what I had originally saved with the extra-allotted time and a well needed stimulus check. This will make my hike so much better. I will not have to think twice about buying another beer or three. It will also allow me to upgrade some items to streamline my system. Then with continuing my training I should be a machine when it comes time to hit it (watch out FKT/Heather “Anish” Anderson).
In the meantime I have my eyes set on some shorter trips closer to home. Possibly the TRT? What are you guys doing now that COVID has changed so much of what was planned for 2020?
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