I’m Selling All My Things to Hike the PCT
Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of going on an adventure of my own. I spent my childhood watching fantasies with my dad, looking up to the likes of Frodo Baggins and Luke Skywalker. These beloved characters went off to find something that couldn’t have been found if they remained where they were, and discovered something of themselves along the way. I always thought this was the way the world worked – you turn 16 (or 18, or 20, I wasn’t sure) and you go off and find yourself.
Life did not work out this way.
Here I am, 24 years old, about to go on my very own quest to find myself. In a little under two months, I’ll be starting my thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail.
The Pacific Crest Trail is a scenic hike that spans from Campo, Calif., (near the Mexican border) to Manning Park in British Columbia, Canada. It covers the following sections, with descriptions from the PCT website.
Southern California: Traversing 700 miles of deserts and mountain ranges, the Pacific Crest Trail is striking and easily accessible in Southern California.
Central California: The Pacific Crest Trail through the famed Sierra Nevada is one of the premier trail experiences in the world.
Northern California: From the southernmost Cascades to the Big Bend, the PCT in Northern California is marked by solitude.
Oregon: Relatively easy travel through deep old-growth forests, the trail is punctuated by stunning volcanoes, ridges, and lakes.
Washington: From the Columbia Gorge through the rugged North Cascades, Washington’s section is a highlight of the trail.
(I just looked up how many miles Frodo and Sam walked from the Shire to Mordor, and I’m going to double their mileage. Yikes.)
I joke with my friends that I’m having my quarter-life crisis, but truthfully I’ve been planning this trip for over three years now. After reading Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild,” I decided that the PCT was going to be my find-yourself-adventure, and that I was going to do it in 2018 – the year I turn 25. It was a lofty decision at the time, and now that it’s finally here I could not be more pleased with myself for choosing this time to do it. It happens to be a perfect time in my life for this hike: after the PCT, I’ll be moving to Europe with my family and going back to university.
Last month, I decided I couldn’t let 2018 pass me by without taking this trip, so I snagged a thru-hike permit, booked a flight, announced my plans to my boss and landlord, and started planning.
In addition to my love of Frodo, I have some more solid reasons for wanting to hike the PCT. First, and most importantly, the health benefits:
Physical exercise: I’ll be hiking upward of 20 miles a day, every day (except for zeroes, which is hiker lingo for rest days). I’ll be going uphill, downhill, through hot and cold weather, and everything in between.
Mental clarity: I’ll have space to explore my thoughts without all the noise of Downtown Toronto.
Meaningful social interactions: I’ll be able to connect with like-minded individuals from all walks of life, and that’s pretty freaking cool. It’ll also be nice to speak to human beings, in person, uninterrupted by technology. (If you’re interested in this, check out Dallas Hartwig – he writes about meaningful social interactions and his thoughts are very interesting!)
I’m using Evernote and Trello for all of my planning. This allows me to access my PCT plans from my phone or my computer and helps keep me (somewhat) sane. I can jot down notes while I’m reading blogs and books or watching YouTube videos for my research, and everything stays in one place.
To map out my hike, I’m using a combination of Yogi’s PCT Handbook and Craig’s PCT Planner. Since I’m not from the United States, my resupply strategy is a little more complicated. I’m using the Trail Supply Co. for my resupply packages, and so far they have been very helpful. They will add items to their catalog if there’s a particular product you want that they don’t carry. I’m looking forward to getting my collagen peptides so I can make my breakfast Bulletproof Matcha!
The next eight weeks will be filled with research, planning, and anxiety. Wish me luck. 🙂
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