Getting ready to hike the PCT

Even writing the word blogging makes me feel nauseated. This is a challenge I never thought I’d take on: opening up to an unknown audience and being entirely honest. But when Zach Davis gave me opportunity to write for Appalachian Trials, I figured it’s 2016 and I am about to take off on an adventure I have been dreaming about for the last 10 years: hiking from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail. This is an experience that I will want to remember. So blog I will.

I don’t expect that my entries will be overly technical. I am interested in capturing my experience real-time and communicating it to my family, friends, and thruhiking community.

So here it goes…

On May 4th, I embark on a solo northbound (NOBO) hike of the PCT. This date cannot come soon enough. I chose a later start date because the Sierras have been hit hard with snow this winter and I don’t want to be forced to skip sections because the snow is too high. Consequently, I will be dealing with warmer temperatures (okay really hot) in the southern California desert as well as limited water sources on the first part of the trail.

Historically, I am not a planner. The PCT has forced me to do some planning though. I have 14 supply drops planned for the more remote parts of the trail where buying food is difficult or impossible. I’ve learned how to read topo maps and use a compass. I’ve researched gear and have managed to get my base weight (pack weight minus consumables i.e. food and water) down to ~15lbs. But truthfully, it mostly feels like I am winging it. I have minimal experience in the woods on my own. I have no idea how I am going to get enough calories to sustain the required effort. I am going to be cold, and dirty, and smelly. I like to be warm, and clean, and smell nice. When I see a black bear, I am supposed to make a bunch of noise to scare it away?! Ya, okay. And how is it even possible to mentally prepare for being away from family and friends (and canine) for such a long time? Most of the people I have told that I am planning to do this look at me like I am crazy. I don’t know, maybe I am. But right now, I feel like I am about to attempt one of the most important efforts of my life. I am ready to let the trail break down my walls and open my soul. I’m not sure what’s in store on this journey, but there is an inner calling that I cannot ignore.

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