The Lazy Way to PCT Prep
I watched him pull up a colorful circle graph with a optimistic charm of who he believed he was addressing.
Point by point he delightfully shared each item portrayed, weighed to the ounce. He focused on where he had computed the percentage of where he would cut slack weight. His eyes sparkled in anticipation to meet my deer in the headlights gaze. “What’s your base weight?”
And in one confused shrug I watched the joy escape from his once happy eyes.
I have spent a better part of last month scrounging social media for those using the hashtag PCT2020. As I start counting down the days until I start my walk from Mexico to Canada on the PCT, the pull to find “my people” and to connect with my “trail family” has become an annoying obsession. As I click hearts on tagged posts and add excited comments to form connection with the authors, I also start to notice the ignorance inside of me rising when some of the trail lingo begins to be thrown around.
There are foreign things like “ultralight” and “AYCE” places along the trail.
Or jokes I am baffled by such as “bear burritos” or “bear fortune cookies.”
I could not name two top recommended tent brands or tell you which dehydrated food brand is vegan or gluten free.
I recently found myself pacing around REI for a good hour like a lost child frantic because I had let go of my mother’s hand and was swept off between climbing ropes and kayaks. I, in desperation, clung to the nearest adult in outdoor’s attire with calm smiles and rad dreadlocks to beg what a “bivy sack” translated to or the meaning of a “torso pad.” I just do not know the language.
I walked away from the conversation with my ultra-gear-knowledgeable friend with heavy doubts pulling on my gut.
I jotted down as many notes as I could from him as he listed helpful websites to compare gear weights and where to investigate cold soaking more. I could not shake the feeling of disappointment, however, seeping from him. You see, he himself wants to go on some epic PCT thru-hike but life obligations constrain him standing on the side lines with his knowledge growing rusty. I, in turn in his eyes, was perhaps wasting this incredible opportunity before it began because I had and still have very little motivation to test out gear, discuss ultralight pro or cons, or really learn any of the trail lingo many adventurers speak.
Am I being foolish in not truly planning my meals?
Am I setting myself up for failure by not trying all the various hiking footwear options?
Should I run to the nearest bookstore to pack myself as many trail guides and maps I can carry?
If I am turning away from this strong current of preparation am I truly facing the PCT head on in hopes to completion?
In my own defense I hiked last year over 3,000 miles.
Not on a thru-hike, but just to hike. I went on vacation to the Colorado Rockies and in a span of seven days summited 18 14ers and three 13ers. I have been on portions of the PCT in each state. I have walked miles through various desertscapes as well as battled my way trail blazing in waist-high snow. What I lack in book knowledge of gear I believe I make up for in pure experience. I have no idea what “skin out weight” is but I have climbed mountains in 13 states and two countries. I am hoping my ability to walk will make up for my inability to care about your tent make and model.
What is PCT preparation? What do you think? Am I blowing it?
All I can honestly say is I am anxious over this waiting period. Let the adventure begin already.
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