Goals for Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2024
As I have been thinking about the new year, ruminations of New Year’s resolutions have been swirling around in my head. So I decided to set some intentions for my thru-hike to examine my reasons for hiking and set myself up for mental success on my Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike in 2024.
Why am I hiking the PCT?
After hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2021, I fell in love with long-distance backpacking. I am currently a junior in college and taking a gap semester to hike the PCT and spend some time pursuing my passions. Although I was initially attracted to thru-hiking for the challenge and adventure, the freedom and simplicity of focusing on my basic needs such as where the next water source is or where I am going to camp for the night allows me to continue my journey of self-discovery and personal growth. I can spend the majority of my mental energy on inner dialogue which fosters my self-empowerment and rawest form. The solitude of trail life and chance to connect with nature gives me space to deepen my understanding of myself, my values, and ultimately my sense of purpose.
Goal 1: Have zero expectations
As I have started planning my PCT thru-hike, I have received questions from friends about how the AT compares to the PCT. I have tried to maintain the mindset that I will not compare my AT thru-hike to my PCT thru-hike, but I can’t help but wonder if I will meet as amazing of a tramily or if I will have the same life changing experiences. This hike is going to be challenging and rewarding in completely different ways then the AT and I want to let go of all expectations based off of my experience on the AT so that I can truly enjoy everything the PCT has to offer.
Another expectation I want to let go of is the idea that I need to hike a continuous NOBO footpath. Although I missed around 20 miles of the AT total, for the other 2,170 miles I walked by every single white blaze. I know that on the PCT there are many additional challenges such as snow and fire and I need to accept the possibility that I will have to flip around or not hike the entire PCT due to weather or other factors. Letting go of this purest mentality and instead embracing a go with the flow mindset will set me up for success.
Goal 2: Live in the moment, be present
Often times in my daily life, I find my mind wandering to the future in moments where I want to be present. Although dreaming of the days where I will get to walk from sunrise to sunset is enjoyable, I rather be listening to the stories my friends are telling me or watching the beautiful sunset in front of me. On trail, I want to focus on enjoying the people I am with, the stunning views around me, and challenges of the day instead of obsessing when my next town stop will be or when I am going to get to Canada. Being intentional about living in the moment will set me up for success on my thru hike by allowing me to listen to my body, take each moment as it comes, and enjoy the small moments along the way.
Goal 3: Ask questions, be curious
One of my favorite things about life is meeting new people. I love learning about the people around me; what makes them smile, what are they passionate about, what are their dreams. When I am on trail, I want to be intentional about my interactions by asking people questions about themselves and being curious about their life experiences. When else am I going to get to meet so many amazing people and have so much time on my hands to talk to them?? I also think that learning about others gives me new perspectives on life and allows me to continue learning about myself.
Goal 4: Hike my own hike
This is a classic thru hike saying that I really want to embrace on my PCT thru hike. For me this means hiking whatever miles I want to do, staying in town as long or short as I want, and not allowing anyone else to dictate how I am going to hike. Hiking my own hike embodies all of my other goals, and I think sticking to this idea will lead me to success on my PCT thru hike.
Stay tuned for updates on gear changes from my AT set up, and how I am (attempting) to be more ultra light on the PCT!
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