Lessons Learned – Week 1
The First Stretch
Mile Markers: 1419.0 – 1501.3
The first 6 days swiftly came and went. The miles were long, the heat was substantial, and the views, incredible! Starting in the middle of Northern California was not what I had envisioned; the decision, however, proved to be the correct one. Sitting in this Mexican restaurant in the town of Mt. Shasta I fondly look back at the first 82.3 trail miles and think of lessons I’ll bring with me on the next stretches of trail.
I Brought Too Many Bars
I was warned about trail food from a friend who NOBO’d the PCT in 2018. I thought I was going to be above it — “I could eat clif bars all day.” I was so wrong. Three days: It took THREE days for me to become sick of bars. It was a form of self-torture to open up each bar at lunch, close my eyes, and slowly finish that packaged clump of calories
A hard lesson learned; the next 100 miles to town will be bar-less. No more hard to chew, 200 calorie, bland-tasting blocks that dare to call themselves food. I learned something this week that I will continue to apply to the hike: “if it tastes good, pack it.”
I Need Camp Shoes
My feet hurt. My feet hurt worse when I have to leave my trail-runners on after walking up and down mountains all day. Each night I looked over at my partner and the many other thru-hikers with envy. They would toss off their trail-runners and slide on those breathable camp shoes. My feet were screaming, inaudibly, “LET ME OUT!” but I had to continue setting up camp with my sweaty shoes still on.
The moment would come where I would succumb to my feet’s wishes and toss off my shoes to walk barefoot around camp. My feet were already dirty, but they would end up glued to all the tree sap, sharp rocks, and mud without the wonderful protection of camp shoes.
So— I will be looking for some lightweight camp shoes to slip on every chance I get.
Resting Pays BIG Dividends
During all the training backpacking trips I would say to my partner “we need to continue hiking. No breaks.” For the first couple days on the PCT I had that same mindset. There are miles to be competed, sights to see, campsites to get to before the scary nighttime creeps in!
Again, I was so wrong. The time we spent to eat, hydrate, and stretch ended up being some of the most rewarding moments on trail. During that time we interacted with some incredible people, learned some tips-n-tricks from thru-hikers with thousands of miles under their hip-belts, and hyped ourselves up for the next climb.
Without these glorious breaks I believe each day would become a miserable repetition of ‘left foot right foot left foot…’ and I would slip slowly into a madness.
I am sure the next 100 miles to town will be filled with more lessons and more breaks. They will not, however, be filled with bars!
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