“It’s your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.”
I’m a big fan of Rumi. He got it. He captured exactly what hiking this thru-hike is for me, and something I have to remind myself often.
Yet, before one even gets to the trail, in the planning process, there are a LOT of things that need to be tended to: in your own self, i.e. physically; in between your own ears, i.e. mentally; and any matters in your life, i.e. logistically: work, money, home, etc.
To be honest, I felt I did a great job of tending to all those things before I left. I got all my ducks-in-a-row, and I left for Seattle feeling quite confident in the preparations I had made. I had a good handle on the things I could control!
Right off the bat, my southbound (SOBO) thru-hike was not entirely different from my NOBO counterparts.
Getting through WA and OR, logistically anyway, was pretty easy. Re-supply stops were easy; hitches were easy. At campsites, I was usually with at least one other person. In towns, I was usually in a crowd of other hikers, NOBO and SOBO alike. It was a nice sense of community!
As time has carried on, though, that ease has shifted. Especially now that I have flipped to hike north through the Sierras, the physical, the mental, and especially the logistical are SO much more difficult.
I am 85 days into my flip-flop trek. In the last week alone I have noticed just how difficult it is to go against the grain.
First things first: logistically. I am hiking through the Sierras at the tail-end of the season. Let me tell you: that is annoyingly frustrating! Buses, roads, businesses themselves that would normally be an option to use, to ride, to stop at, are NOT in my case. Places are either “closed for the season” or closed due to weather.
Next, mentally… I am pretty much on my own. Many I hiked with early on left the trail or ended their hike for one reason or another. That’s totally understandable, but the loneliness that ensues is very real and tangible. I’m alone when I camp. I’m in towns, not with other thru-hikers, but normal day-to-day people. All manageable, but that sense of community from early on no longer exists.
Lastly, even physically, the trek is harder! It may not make sense, but trust me… going up the gnarly Sierra passes alone, with only your own self to motivate you, is difficult! There is not another hiker before, with, or behind you to push you along.
I’d be lying if I said that I don’t miss the days of early on. I do. I’m an introvert and I still miss the community that I had early on.
But, I chose to go against the grain. I made a plan to get as many miles of the PCT that I can, and in order to do just that, I am going to have to make a go at it alone.
I’ve mentioned this before in a previous post, but I think nothing is an accident. If I’m meant to walk alone, I will. If I’m meant to meet people, I will. In fact, speaking to the latter, I have met the most amazing trail angels, day hikers, JMTers, weekend-backpackers! People so special, that they bring a tear to my eyes. They’ve helped me get to/from the trail. I’ve met them when I needed someone to talk to.
The trail is teaching me: let go, Janine. Stop being a control freak. You can’t control or plan for everything.
There are things beyond my control, and I must trust the power greater than me. Something more is yet to come, and only me, and me alone, can walk that path to see what it is.
“Whenever you’re alone, remind yourself that God sent everyone else away, so that there is only you and him” – Rumi
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