Day One: Making Lemonade Out of Lemons


Today I woke up to another cloudy, gray Oregon morning.  I rolled out from under the comforter and walked into the kitchen. I made myself a cup of Earl Grey tea with a splash of almond milk.  I sat down and picked up a book from a stack of recommendations; the Da Vinci Code looked interesting.  My mom made a smoothie with oats and tofu, also interesting.  We decided today we would go for a hike.  I put on my hiking clothes and strapped on my training pack. While tying my shoes I realized my mom was wearing the same color scheme. Genetics are amazing. We went for an urban hike, clocking in at 8.5 miles. I made myself a toasted turkey sandwich and read some news. I then got some tools and replaced two seat belts on my car. WIN. Next I shoveled some mulch and planted some veggie starts.  Now I am drinking a beer writing this blog.  Today was definitely not what I expected it to be and here is why.

Muddy Oregon hike with my pack!

Ten Months Ago

Approximately ten months ago the plan I had to hike the PCT in 2020 was just beginning; by June I committed to myself that it was going to happen.  By September my work knew about the adventure and all my coworkers were nothing but excited and supportive.

Five Months Ago

It was October 29, PCT permit day.  I logged in, waited in the queue. After much anxiety I made it into the portal and chose April 5. Yahoo! I finally had a countdown to the day my next big life adventure was going to start. Over the next few months I set up the plans to leave my job, break my month-to-month lease with my incredible roommates, and save enough $$$ to make my Pacific Crest Trail dreams a reality. I lit up every time I told someone about what I was about to do. I couldn’t imagine any other future for me.

Three Weeks Ago

COVID-19 was becoming a bigger deal where I was currently living. On Friday I was told we were to work from home until further notice, Wednesday was my last day at the company I loved. By Thursday I had packed up my entire house (a week earlier than planned), moved it into storage, and started to make the journey to my home town in Oregon. I still felt the PCT was going to be the best place for me to spend the time during the outbreak.  I would be interacting with fewer people and would take necessary precautions during resupply stops.

Friday, March 20

I woke up, checked my email, and panicked. The PCTA sent an email with the title “Please postpone or cancel your PCT Plans.” My heart dropped. I cried. So many feelings were running through my head.  I respect and trust the PCTA, so how was I going to change everything I had planned for the past eight months? My start date was still two weeks away; hopefully something will  change by then?

A rainbow symbolizing good things to come.

The Past Two Weeks

Over the past two weeks, things spiraled downhill. Every day it was seeming more and more likely that my trip was not going to happen.  I made my way through the stages of grief:

Denial: No, this is not happening, there is nothing except injury that will keep me from the trail.

Anger: I have been a diehard listener of the Backpacker Radio podcast, and the first 15 minutes of episode 64, I was so upset I stopped listening to the episode.

Bargaining: What ifs? What if I bring extra sanitizer? What if I go southbound? What if I come up with some crazy resupply strategy to minimize impact?

Depression: Wake up, cry, eat, think about how I am lost without the PCT, eat, try to sleep, wake up, roll over because I can’t stop thinking, sleep, repeat.

Acceptance: I am not going to thru-hike the PCT in 2020 (telling people makes it feel more real).

What Am I Going to Do Next?

Now that I was left at the altar by the PCT I needed to come up with a plan (mind you, I am way less emotional writing this now than when I was going through the motions of this development).  I set out to hike the PCT with a list of goals and things I wanted to take away from the trip (thank you, Zach, for writing Pacific Crest Trials!). After reviewing, I found that only half were specific to the PCT, yet the other half I could still accomplish without it.  Therefore my plan is to take the next few weeks to find the right activity/job to put the checkmark on these goals. I (and the entire PCT class of 2020) was dealt a bunch of lemons, but it’s time for me to make some lemonade. There is no reason why I should not take the opportunity now to still have an adventure.

Back to Today

Today I was supposed to be sleeping in my tent, thinking about the hill out of Hauser Creek I would have to climb in the morning and celebrating that I did not get a blister on day one, yet preparing for the PCT challenged my mentality regarding expectations.  Today was not the day I expected it to be, but it is day one of a new adventure and day one of counting down to a new PCT start date.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 2

  • Lance A Goehring : Apr 6th

    Well written, Justine. Though I’d decided several weeks ago to cancel my hike, I just couldn’t figure out a way to write about it. I was so concerned with striking the exact right tone. I’m fully aware that my hike is unimportant compared to the much larger world issue going on right now, but I still wanted to address those feelings. You did exactly what I couldn’t figure out how to do … put it in words. I think my favorite is, “I am not going to thru-hike the PCT in 2020 (telling people makes it feel more real).” — That’s when I started recovering from my anguish … when I started telling people that I was not going to hike this year. It puts a cap on it and allows one to move forward.

    Hope to see you on the trail next year.

  • Sai K : Apr 6th

    Glad you are not holding back but moving forward to mark off some of your goals. Be Strong – You never know who you are inspiring!


What Do You Think?