Just Go Right Along
It’s 25 days until I start heading north on the PCT with my wife, and I still can’t say exactly why I’m doing this. I have a feeling that I’ll know more when I’m on the trail. I do know that I’m completely terrified as the sand runs out of the hourglass. As someone who has frequently jumped ship at difficult times, I’ve sure picked quite the challenge.
There will be shit days. And that’s okay.
This is going to suck. I won’t sugarcoat it for anyone who fantasizes about making this journey , namely myself. There are going to be days that I know I’m going to want to rage-quit, throw my pack off the nearest cliff, or just suck down some cheap booze and curl up to lick my wounds.
The list of reasons to quit is long. Dehydration. Hunger. Blisters the size of quarters. Chafing in all the wrong places. Postholing. Mental exhaustion. The fear of empty water supplies. Gut issues from eating like a trash panda for weeks on end. Lost gear. Twisted ankles. Setting up camp and digging catholes in the pissing rain. Extra long food carries. Boredom.
Maybe two weeks in, maybe twelve, I’ll realize that this isn’t actually for me. Maybe I’ve made up a character of who I thought I was, and that I’ve been putting myself through a meat grinder for no real reason other than pride and ego, to prove to others, to myself, that I can get chewed up and keep on keeping on. I can only imagine the despair I might feel on that day, should it ever come.
But here’s the catch.
Everyone reading this has already felt this low in some way or another. Almost all of us have worked some job we’ve come to loathe waking up for, got a degree in something that we realized we really didn’t care about, maybe even dated someone who we couldn’t stand by the end.
As much as these events suck, they shape us in ways we don’t always see right away. We carry these with us in the bottom of our bags, at first like an anvil, but soon as heavy as only a feather. And even though we can never truly shed those few grams, we learn to smile when we see them in the corners, because they serve to remind us that to appreciate the sun, we have to stand in the rain.
There will be awesome days. And that’s okay.
This is going to be the absolute experience of a lifetime. I can hardly wait for the soaring heights, sweeping valleys, sultry desert and lush forests that await me. And the people we’ll meet along the way, to hear their stories, their why’s, worries and wonders, to laugh and cry and scream together, is the fudge on the sundae. The list of reasons to keep going may feel short, but each item on it is a monolith compared to any reason to quit.
There will be tough days ahead, but the trail wouldn’t hold such a firm grip on the soul without the trials that etch it into place.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Dr. Suess:
When things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.
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