It Starts With Water
When I was fifteen years old, I told my mom that on my sixteenth birthday, I would set out on a hike out west. I’d trust strangers, get rides, raise money for odd jobs, and eventually make it to my aunt’s house in Canyon, Texas. There, I would couch-hop further and further west until I reached the coast. This should have terrified a mother, but mine laughed at me. I remember tearing up, gritting my teeth. I turned sixteen. I got an old 1991 Honda. I didn’t go west.
At seventeen, I was working as a receptionist at a country club. My only job was to look nice and greet members as they walked in the doors. During lulls, I was allowed to sit at my desk and do homework, read, write, whatever. Inevitably, I ended up falling into deep internet pits. One of them led me to the Appalachian Trail.
It Starts With Water
Let me go back.
When you’re born and raised in the Great Plains of Texas, everything is about water. You grow up with an ingrained knowledge of the way the clay swells when the seasons change. You grow up knowing where to duck and cover when the sky spits out a tornado. You know what it means when the sky turns yellow. And every single time it rains, you’ll hear someone say “we needed this.” The land is flat, exposed, and merciless. And when the rain comes, it never stays long. So you can see why, sitting at my desk, scrolling through articles and photos of the Appalachian Trail, it felt foreign and exciting. I wanted those green tunnels, never more than a handful of miles from a water source.
Every time I tell my mom about my next adventure, she asks “how did I get such an adventurous daughter?” She still lives less than ten miles from the place she graduated high school. She’s never lived outside of Texas. She prefers staying home to road trips. I couldn’t tell you how she ended up with me.
I kept a book of notes on the Appalachian Trail with me all through high school, flipping through it and dreaming of the chilly, damp mornings in Vermont when it was 109 degrees in Texas. Obsessively, I researched other trails similar to it. I came across the Pacific Crest Trail. 700 miles of desert. I couldn’t imagine doing that willingly. Isn’t that what everyone thinks the first time they hear about a thru-hike? People actually do that? And the Continental Divide, equally as dry in its southern third, and even more rugged. I remembered all the childhood road trips out to the panhandle of Texas. The beating sun. The dry and brittle bones of livestock that wandered too far from home. I cringed to think about voluntarily walking through that wasteland.
And, like all thru-hikers, I find myself now planning out resupplies, saving up for gear, researching transportation… preparing for a thru-hike. Which trail did I choose?
Well, short answer, all of them.
But first: the Pacific Crest Trail. I know, I know. How on earth did I end up with that conclusion? After all that talk of green tunnels and water?
Why the PCT?
Here’s what I’ve learned after moving away from Texas, the land of angry weather patterns and drastic temperature changes, yearly droughts and flash floods, all extreme, no subtlety.
There is something beautiful about transitioning between the lack of water and the abundance of it.
The dusty, sweltering Mohave spitting you out into the unforgiving Sierra with it’s murderous rivers. The impending threat of fire following you until you’re drenched in rain water and snow. Earth giveth water. Earth taketh away. And again, and again.
Tons of things draw me to the PCT; it’s the closest long trail to me now that I live in Portland, Oregon. It traverses my favorite terrain in Washington. It is less crowded and less domestic than the AT, but more social and approachable than the CDT. But if I’m honest, it’s about the water. It’s the Texan in me that understands this.
Reasons I’m Hiking
So now you know why I’ve chosen the Pacific Crest Trail. You may be wondering why I’m going to hike it all at once, for fun, instead of leading a normal life. I’ve read so many “reasons I’m hiking” lists. Honestly, I don’t have a list. I have one reason: because I can’t not do it.
I want to hike, I like to hike. There are a lot of reasons why people don’t hike: money, family, job, health, ability. None of those things stand in my way right now. So I’ll hike.
So if you’d like to follow my adventures, please follow me on Instagram, Youtube, and of course here on The Trek, where I’ll be blogging each step, sopping wet or thirsty.
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