Dealing with Pre-Hike Jitters

These days I’m feeling a bit like a horse in its corral waiting for the gates to open, pacing around my supply room (formerly known as a dining room) wondering if I’ve left anything out, reviewing snow pack reports and plotting out bail out points and alternate routes. Just waiting for the moment I get dropped off at the trail head, the gates open, and I’m free to start walking. Judging by the anticipation and panicked tones of other hiker’s posts on various PCT social media sites, I’m not alone in this feeling.

I’ve heard from previous thru-hikers that this time, right before the start hiking season, is traditionally the most difficult part of the year, resupply plans have been made, gear has been finalized, all there is left to do is pack up our lives and wait. While we wait with one foot in our “normal” life and one foot in our hiking life, tensions give rise to bickering and well meaning over-analyzation takes hold . I too, have been guilty of filling the void by reanalyzing all my decisions as well. For example, several months ago my husband/hiking partner and I made the decision to use rain skirts instead of rain pants. At the time, the decision seemed clear; rain skirts are lighter and offer better better breathability. Accordingly, silnylon and a couple of cord locks were purchased, and I sewed us both a seemingly perfect rain skirt. Now, fast forward to less then a month prior to our start date, we engaged in a two hour debate on the merits of rain paints vs rain skirts. Will we be too cold in rain skirts? Are we foolish to try and hike in a piece of gear we’ve never used before? To cut to the chase, we decided to give the rain skirts a chance and stay open to the idea of changing them out to rain pants by the time we hit the heavy Washington rains. So, what to do about all this?

Stay Flexible

I’ve been reminding myself daily that all plans can  (and will) be changed, tweaked, or down right thrown out the window once we start hiking, we don’t need to plan for every foreseeable situation in advance. Is our resupply plan too ambitious, with too long of distances between stops? We can change it; we’re mostly shopping as we go and sending ahead anyways. Realize 400 miles in that we hate a piece of our gear? Well, not ideal, but we can have an order from REI sent ahead to our next resupply.

Stay Focused

This years high snow pack, along with the ensuing water crossings, are inciting some (very valid) concerns among myself and fellow hikers. It’s easy to get caught up in the panicked voices exclaiming “The Sierra’s are impassible this year.” While it’s true that many of us may not make it through this year, but focusing on this point alone is not helpful. Instead, use this time to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible, be realistic in considering other options, and set forth with the best of intentions.

Best of luck to the class of 2017, you’ll be on the trail before you know it.

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Comments 2

  • Mig Whitt Trail Name YIPPEE. : Mar 18th

    Looks like you read my Same story almost exactly. Same analogy of the horses also. Mmmmm.

  • Kate : Apr 6th

    I’m in Edmonton too, and looking forward to following your adventure. I had to share my experience with rain skirts. I had one on the Camino Frances (one of the Caminos de Santiago in Spain). It seems the only times I needed rain protection, there was also slashing wind and cold temperatures (as I crossed the Meseta). Not helpful at all! But I can highly recommend an umbrella – good for both sun and rain, and easy to fix to your pack so you can still use your poles. Not very useful in high wind though…


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