Things I’ve Learned While Preparing to Prepare for the PCT

Preparedness Paralysis

I have navigated millions of miles of fiber-optic cables while exploring the interwebs and all the wonders they have to offer.

Gear. Gadgets. Maps. The Trek. Technological marvels. Permitting systems. Good advice. Dire predictions. Trolls who will argue with you about literally anything. REI sales.

I finally hit the wall.

My brain reached some sort of critical mass and just shut down.

Wait, Patagonia is having a sale! BRB. OK, it didn’t shut down completely.

It seems the longer I have to plan, the more I second guess myself. I have, to date, purchased enough gear to take six people on an extended bivouac in Outer Mongolia.

I’m done.

Except for my new jacket that’s on its way from Outdoor Research. And a T-shirt. But that’s it.

 

Seems reasonable

Everything is under control; mind ya business.

What I’ve Learned Thus Far

I know how to hike, I’m fairly good at it, and I have enough gear for the PCT. Constantly changing out my gear before I’ve even tested it does nothing but waste money and closet space (I never return anything). I expect there are some issues with self-doubt and deep-seated personal insecurities to be explored here. I’ll do that while I’m hiking.

Don’t overcomplicate it. As my friend says, “It’s just walking outside. Put on some shoes and go. Maybe take some water and a snack.” She’s helpful, that one.

Finding the right shoes is a miserable slog through blisters and disappointment. I tried to join the newest trend, but zero-drop shoes just don’t work for me. It seems my body doesn’t want to change the way it’s walked for the past 50 years. Weird.

Speaking of walking, I have finally embraced the fact that there is a 100% chance that I will NOT be in thru-hiking shape when I get to the trail. I will be in “I live in a mostly flat state, but I walk a lot” shape.

My gear will be exhaustively tested at the peak of a brutal 40-degree Texas winter.

Layering is important, but the order of those layers is critical. Midweight does not mean mid layer. Yes, it’s possible to mess that up. So that’s what “next-to-skin comfort” means.

I cannot fully describe my hatred of the gym. The treadmill to nowhere is the bane of my existence, but it’s the only way I can get any kind of incline training. Hate. It.

Now that I think about it, I hate all forms of training. I despise working out, practice, drills, and rehearsal. If we’re going to do the thing, let’s just do it, shall we? Unnecessary suffering for the first several hundred miles, you say? Yes, please, I’ll take two. Now please pass the burritos.

If you talk about the PCT too much, the non-hikers you work with will give you many pre-trail names, several of which are unflattering and not suitable for a family friendly website.

A rain jacket and a rain shell are two entirely different things.

Patience leads to off-season sale prices.

Pre-Trail Victories

I did, in fact, find shoes I love for the PCT. I’ve worn them all day, every day, for almost four months and they rock.

My big three (or four, or five, depends on your math beliefs) are dialed in and I love them, even though I’ve never set up my new tent. I’m sure it’s fine; the people on the website look happy.

My current gear list.

 

Stuff I’m Still Working On

I don’t take breaks. Never have. I rest by eating a snack while walking slower. I do all of my miles at once and then stop for the day. If I stop early, I’m done. Much like getting home from work: If my butt hits the couch, that’s it for the day. I am highly susceptible to my own inertia. Pretty sure that’s not going to get me through the desert. I guess my “Death March” trail name is back up for grabs.

Resupply, ugh. While I know it’s possible to do the entire trail without sending a single resupply box, I feel like, discretion being the better part of valor, I should do at least a little more planning in this area. My original plan was one box—Sierra stuff sent to Kennedy Meadows. Then I added a box for actual rain gear sent to Cascade Locks. Now I’ve added a couple more, but they’ll be purchased and shipped by me while on trail. Total of six. Maybe eight. I want to spend my time on the trail, not in town at the post office. I see these people with these intense resupply plans, like 25+ boxes and I think Damn, I don’t even know what I’m going to eat for dinner in three hours, this person knows what they want to eat for lunch on August 11. More power to them, I’ll probably be resupplying at midnight in the candy aisle of a 7-Eleven.

 

Careful with that axe

Sierra resupply; might need some food in that can.

Still accepting applications for the honor and privilege of watching my cats while I’m on trail.

Stupid gym treadmill level 15 hill incline stupid boring stuff.

So That’s Where I’m At

Swapping gear just for the purpose of doing something. Avoiding the gym because I don’t want to expend my calorie bank (beer belly) too soon. Worrying about ridiculous, trivial BS, because anxiety is my drug of choice.

Listening to Alive at Last by Candlebox far too much.

I have the gear, I have the money, I have the time, what else is there to worry about?

Oh, right. Bad knees.

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Comments 10

  • Avatar
    Julie : Feb 16th

    You, sir, are an entertaining writer. I truly look forward to following your Trek blogs.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Bob Taylor : Feb 16th

      Thank you, I appreciate that.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Lance Goehring : Feb 16th

    We’re in the same boat, age and prep-wise, Bob. I feel your pain. I’m definitely ready for this to start. I may not see you as I’m starting 3 weeks later, but have an awesome hike. Great writing, my friend. 

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Bob Taylor : Feb 16th

      Good luck to you as well! The trail needs more graybeards, for sure.

      You might be able catch me, since I’ll be the guy on the side of the trail drinking queso out of a Smartwater bottle.

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Cunningham : Feb 17th

        Funny and all too familiar. Thanks

        Reply
  • Avatar
    Sue aka Snaphappy : Feb 16th

    Very entertaining and spot-on writeup! You echoed many of our thoughts, pain, anxieties! We (Raggle and I) start the PCT 4/4, and hope to meet up. Look for the granola lady with the camera, and don’t forget to smile! Snsphappy and Raggle

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Bob Taylor : Feb 16th

      Thanks, I hope to see you out there!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Mike H : Feb 17th

    Us old goats are tough. Or maybe just stubborn. Good luck!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Hsiaowei : Feb 19th

    I also hate the treadmill so much that after 10 mins of carrying 25lbs of weight with 12% inclination, I started really questioning my determination to walk the PCT.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Bob Taylor : Feb 20th

      The treadmill is the worst! I’d rather carry 50 lbs over loose rocks during a blizzard.

      Reply

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