Lance’s Infinite PCT Playlist

There’s just about a month till I take my first steps from the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail.  Every bit of preparation that can be done has been done. Now it’s just a matter of waiting and anticipating and truly getting in the weeds with minutiae.

So, what do you do when you are tired of details? You obsess about the really important stuff … like music. Whether you listen to music or not on the trail, there is a theme that plays in your head. Modern phones can carry our entire music library on them, but there is a small playlist of songs that are the soundtrack for the adventure movie with you as the star, and the trail as the setting. What are those songs?

Gotta have some rules!

Here are my ground rules, but they’re not written in stone, so freely decide on your own:

  • The songs, in either lyric or mood, need to evoke one of the following: outdoors, nature, freedom, independence, or minimalism
  • When you hear these songs, regardless of where you are, you are transported to your on-trail “happy place”
  • Listening to these songs often motivates you to plan a new adventure

2650 Miles to Go, The PCT Mixtape

Kicking it off are a couple of songs off an album that could be my soundtrack all by itself, the Into the Wild soundtrack by Eddie Vedder. A beautiful, haunting album that conjures open spaces, freedom, and rejection of societal expectations.

Eddie Vedder – Guaranteed

… Everyone I come across in cages they bought
They think of me and my wandering but I’m never what they thought
Got my indignation but I’m pure in all my thoughts
I’m alive

Wind in my hair I feel part of everywhere
Underneath my being is a road that disappeared
Late at night I hear the trees they’re singing with the dead
Overhead …

We imprison ourselves with the possessions that we buy. Buying more is the driver for working more and experiencing less. Realizing this, you reject what it means to have a “normal life” and you seek adventure and “bigger places”:

Eddie Vedder – Society

… When you want more than you have
You think you need
And when you think more than you want
Your thoughts begin to bleed
I think I need to find a bigger place
‘Cause when you have more than you think
You need more space …

Once we all made the decision to hike a long trail, self-realization was just the first part of the battle.  Next, we needed to proclaim it to everyone else. And that moment can make you feel naked and alone:

The Chicks – The Long Way Around

… I opened my mouth and I heard myself
It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself
Guess I could have made it easier on myself
But I, I could never follow …


Audioslave – I Am the Highway

… Long and weary my road has been
I was lost in the cities
Alone in the hills
No sorrow or pity for leaving I feel …

We’re not just running away from civilization, but from the constant electronic connectedness that can overwhelm us.

A Perfect Circle – Disillusioned

… Time to put the silicon obsession down
Take a look around, find a way in the silence
Lie supine away with your back to the ground
Dis- and reconnect to the resonance now
You were never an island
Unique voice among the many in this choir
Tuning into each other, lift all higher …

OK, maybe we don’t completely put the “silicon obsession” down. Most of us will be taking phones, cameras, GPS devices, etc. But the point is the same. We’re not going out there to talk on the phone and play games. There is profound joy in being disconnected most of the time from a cell signal or the internet. What a great opportunity to connect to each other, nature, and ourselves.

The All-Important Album Closer

Pearl Jam – I Am Mine

… North is to south what the clock is to time
There’s east and there’s west and there’s everywhere life
I know I was born and I know that I’ll die
The in-between is mine
I am mine …

We all want to be the authors of our own story, to be able to say that we didn’t just let our lives be defined by others or by circumstance. Good or bad, it’s nice to say that the path was ours to choose. I’m ready for this chapter.


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