Can We Address the Elephant in the Room Please

Less than two weeks to go!

I’m just going to say it…

Wow, these mood swings suck!!! I had to re-read Zach Davis and Carly Moree’s “Pacific Crest Trials” again. It’s a well written book about how to mentally prepare for what we are about to embark on. It points out that we spend a lot of pre-trail planning on gear lists, shakedown hikes, trying out the perfect pitch for your tent, and countless hours in the gym, but fail to prepare for the mental challenges that we will be facing. Read that again… THAT WE WILL be facing. Because it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

I’m already a mess

But I understood the assignment.

Thank you again, Zach. Make pre-trail lists, he said. He asks us to ask ourselves, “Why, exactly, are you doing this?” (Page 22-23), so I talked to myself (and I answered that, actually, I’ve known all along my why, but I needed to check in with myself again). When shit hits the fan somewhere in the desert or in the Sierra, or during the closures, you need to have “Clarity of purpose.”

Here’s the lists he recommends:

I am thru-hiking the PCT because….

When I successfully thru-hike the PCT I will…

If I give up on the PCT, I will…

Fair enough. Seems reasonable. It’s necessary to do this so that we set ourselves up to successfully get to OUR goal. Whatever that may be. I know I have a lot of shit to unpack on the trail, so my list looks a lot different than yours, but all are as equally important.

Back to the elephant, you know, the one in the middle of the room. He’s giving me side eye.

I have been on such a roller coaster of emotions this last couple of weeks and it’s only getting worse. I had to Google this subject because I’m not seeing a lot of people talking about it prior to stepping off from the terminus. I am crying about the most minor things, I’m not sleeping, I’m literally dazed and confused. I feel like some days I’m just so excited, then I’m having an anxiety attack. I’m ten people in one and I can’t reel it in.

I’m not scared

I really am not. Unless I am… and I just don’t know it. I’ve had to adapt to less than good living circumstances since I was a child, so I adapt well outdoors. I’m going to get a little personal here, but I want you to be okay, because I am okay, okay?

I lived in a car off and on as well on the street starting from the age of five. I lived with food, I lived without food. I wore dirty clothing every day to school. I lived with unreliable and unpredictable adults, so I learned early on how to adapt to situations that were out of my control. What I’m trying to say here is that I’ve been mentally preparing all my life. Last year was a record-breaking snowpack year in the Sierra, I had a spinal fusion in January, I still got my permit and backpacked solo up Mount Whitney eight months later, titanium and all because I knew that I had what it takes to mentally get through everything that weather was going to throw at me. I’m going to add here that I said mentally. I am aware that nobody knows if they will physically be able to navigate the conditions that were present last year. I can never say for a fact if I can do something physically where Mother Nature is involved, but I can say without a doubt my mindset is not one that gives up. That’s where I’m a winner. I will cry, I will complain a little to myself, I’ll tell myself that I really need to cut this shit out but between you and I, I won’t until I can’t walk and even then… Well, guess we will just have to see. Not there yet. One of my favorite hip hop jams is Eminem’s “Till I Collapse.” Listen to it. I like Em. When I was driving to do my first 1/2 Ironman, I listened to “I’m not afraid” and “Lose yourself” over and over during the one-hour car ride to the event location. A lot of people don’t like him; to each their own. I respect you. I vibe with him because there were a lot of similarities in our childhood, and we both worked hard to pull ourselves out of that.

To finish this and sign off, I again want to say that I’ve not read a whole lot about the state of emotional turmoil that’s associated with starting this thing. I don’t even know what it’s all about for me. I can’t say exactly what it is that’s making me lose sleep. I am confident I can pitch my tent, I’m pretty sure I have all I need, so what exactly is it? Pre-trail jitters are assholes. Can I say that here? I think the day just needs to get here and let me do my thing and see where we go from there.

My favorite quote-

The world’s big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark – John Muir

Meet me on the trail!!!!

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Comments 1

  • Jackie Cipriani : Apr 10th

    PCT Queen Joy,

    First, you are such an excellent writer. Please consider writing a book.

    I love Eminem too! Til I Collapse is the perfect motivational song! Very fitting for half Ironman (very impressive!) and your upcoming PCT thru hike (over the top, no proper words impressive!)

    Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing your personal history. It’s incredible that you preserved through these huge hardships and are this amazing person who has accomplished so much and did not let anything stop you.

    I’m so happy that you and Stacy are together. It’s great that you found someone so fun, supportive, kind, smart, sweet, beautiful, and who adores you!
    You deserve this!

    As for your roller coaster pre-hike emotional ride, it’s so understandable. PCT/AT thru hiking is about as epic as it gets. In my opinion, It is normal to cry when you’re just emotional ( happy, excited, worried, sad). I sometimes cry on the bike when I see I beautiful view, all dog related TikToks,, even your writing makes me teary eyed, in a good way. I was teary eyed seeing you & Stacy at your wedding venue. The sweetest and love and fun between you two made me emotional.)

    As for not sleeping, your brain is on overdrive. Even though you want to sleep and turn off your brain,, the excitement of your adventure is on your brain’s mind.

    I think you’re amazing, even if you weren’t doing the hike.
    So many huge epic accomplishments already, even with your added responsibilities as a mom and health care provider.

    Also, you inspired me to hike yesterday. Let’s just say, the top of my quads are so sore and tight that I can barely walk and I jacked up my neck and shoulders from looking down so I didn’t trip ( obviously not a good technique). I suck! You’re THE Hiking Queen!

    We live in Pasadena. We have seen signs on our bike when riding in the mountains and know PCT is right above us.
    Because of the bad rain, some of the roads are closed to get up there by car/bike.

    We think we could see you at mile 418.5-419 .before Mt Gleason. We used to ride from our home in Glendale to the top of Mt. Gleason.

    I need Daniel to drive since the mountain roads scare me. He teaches but is typically off on Monday and Friday plus our weekends are free. I have a couple medical tests this month but I think they are before your hike.
    I know it’s a long shot but we’d love to see you, hug you, cheer for you, bring you anything you need like food, supplies etc.
    I know it’s also early in the hike! Better if we lived in Northern California or Oregon, right?

    I don’t have your phone number to text but mine is 760-650-6483.
    I know your mileage is unpredictable with all the things that go on during a thru hike but if it works, great! No pressure on you at all.

    Love you posts!!! You got this! You’ll catch up on your sleep on the trail! 🤣🥰

    Love ya PCT Queen Joy


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