Final Days Pre-Trail (April 16, 2021)
I spend a lot of time musing over how starting this thru hike feels a little different from starting the Appalachian Trail, four years ago.
Four years later, it seems I’ve had a few more goodbyes to say for this trip compared to when I left for the Appalachian Trail. I recognize (and appreciate!) the blessing there, and keep it close to my heart as a true gift, and something to keep thinking on… I also muse to myself that this is why I am going now. I am experiencing how leaving for long trips like this can start to feel emotionally heavier and more difficult, the older you get, the more connections you have at home. I told my roommate, “I guess this is why people don’t go out and do this their entire life.” Among other reasons, to be sure.
I also think about how this trip is tempered by its being delayed from last year. Like many other thru hikers, I had fully intended to hike the PCT in 2020, but plans were put on hold due to the pandemic and PCTA (Pacific Crest Trail Association) urgings to refrain from hiking. (Understandable.)
It’s been a reminder of the impermanent nature of things, and every time I think of it, I hope that I remember to keep gratitude close every step of this trip, and remember how fortunate I am to be able to go. My greatest hope is to breathe deep and soak in every minute of the trip, for all its worth.
But I guess that sounds like the kind of thing you say as a New Year’s resolution, and then start to regret it later when you start slipping 🙂 Maybe it will be okay to take things for granted or stray from the present moment, briefly, once in a while. 😉
On another note, this trip also differs in the amount of research and sources it has required. It seems to me that a thru hiker is fully prepared on the Appalachian Trail, with a copy of the most popular guidebook, “The A.T. Guide”. Additional sources and maps are useful, but not necessary, being that the trail is so well marked and that towns are relatively frequent along the length of the trail.
For the Pacific Crest Trail, I plan to carry a printed copy of the “PCT Water Report”, National Geographic maps for each section, pages from “Yogi’s PCT Handbook”, and the Guthook app on my phone for detailed instructions along the way. I will also be checking the California snow report/conditions and the PCTA website for updated trail closures along the way. Needless to say, due to various unpredictable forces at play (snow, desert climate, wildfires) there are many more sources of information to consult, in the course of hiking this trail.
I love it!!! I love the wild adventure of all this; that this trip might require me to carry an ice axe and wear microspikes on my shoes, that it has required me to organize food drops in advance for mom to send me, that I’ll need to carefully plan out my water stops along the way in the desert. That I might have to hike under the stars in the desert, to avoid hiking in the heat of the day.
I love that I’ve had to put so much thought into these things and that I’ll likely (and with luck) be capable of meeting challenges as they come.
These are some thoughts from this hiker, keeping her blessings and gifts, family and friends, close to heart while facing a grand adventure ahead.
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