In Praise of Not Overplanning
For the past few weeks I have stopped giving a crap about the details. So I’d like to talk about the reasons for not thinking intensely about my PCT 2019 hike anymore, just three months out from my first night on trail.
Riding High on the Planning Wave
For three years I have dreamed of hiking the PCT. Nine months ago I was frantically looking up gear and resupply strategies. All I could seem to think about were the ins and outs of a really long walk. Endless gear videos watched, spreadsheets made, and different weight and cost options combined. Excitement kept me up at night and the countless options I had for my hike created so much anticipation that I could barely contain myself. I was riding high on the wave of dreams. The driving force to create amazing experiences was flowing.
Then as I started to collect my gear and assemble my kit, each new item arriving in the mail brought a fresh new wave of excitement for a long walk. I would use and test the gear items, imagining them on trail. Spending hours packing and unpacking my bag, laying it all out on the floor, as you do, just admiring it. Writing down by hand what I had and what I needed. Googling possible items to fill the gaps. The process was exhilarating, but I started to burn out.
A Lull in Prep Energy
As time went on, and my kit became almost complete, I hit what I call a prep lull. I don’t feel like working on a resupply strategy. My pack is in the closet and my gear is in a box sitting out of sight and out of mind. Instead of PCT videos on YouTube, I’ve found myself watching AT documentaries, so as not to demystify the places I will be hiking through in five months time.
Instead, I have spent my time focusing on myself and my personal and emotional growth. Being as high energy and focused on one task for so long was wonderful, but at the same time entirely exhausting. It has been about a month now that I have barely even thought about logistics and gear preparation for my thru-hike. Screw being as ultralight as I can. I can start with what I have and make the necessary changes later.
Don’t get me wrong. This lull in manic planning energy started unintentionally but is now entirely intentional. In my daily life I try to minimize expectations of myself and the world around me. High expectations can lead to disappointment, and I totally understand that planning can be all-consuming and inflate expectations. The excitement I get when I played with my gear led to increased dreaming of exactly what I am going to see and feel on the PCT. That for me is a recipe for disaster. This walk in the woods is probably going to be the most life-changing experience thus far, but if I micromanage my hike, it won’t be.
Today, Leading into Tomorrow
I am exercising a practice of letting it be and going with the flow. Appropriate gear has been acquired. I have the skill set to hike in wilderness, although it may not be the best or the lightest gear (but most certainly not the heaviest). My goal is to be present in my current life and enjoy each and every day before I head out on trail. Rather than constantly thinking about the future, why not enjoy what is in front of me now. Then really enjoy the experiences of tomorrow when they arrive.
But that’s just me. Keep dreaming, keep planning, and keep looking forward to the rest of your life. But don’t let expectations change how truly wonderful those experiences can be.
Catch me walking from Mexico to Canada starting May 4, 2019.
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