Motivation Problems: WHY I’m Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

I’m going to be honest. Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty blah about the PCT.

     Usually, the trail is the first thing I think about when I wake up. Before I even open my eyes I will think about the desert, contemplate the Sierras and Washington, and yearn for the greenery of Oregon. But as of late, the feeling that accompanies the trail has been “…uughhh”. This feeling of ugh is usually no more than a thin layer of dust dampening my burning desire to get out to the trail, and it doesn’t take long before my motivational fire gets stoked.
     These times where my mental motivation is low are when I turn to why I want to hike the PCT.  A long while ago, when I first started to put together this thru-hike, I made a focus board with all the reasons of why I wanted to get out onto the trail. This helped me a lot back then. Every day I got to walk by and add another reason to the board. It was a great motivator. I decided that when I left I would write down all these reasons why I wanted to hike and take them with me. That way, when I needed a motivational pick-me-up, all I had to do was to read over my list.

Three lists away from better motivation.

     I recently just finished reading Pacific Crest Trials (a DEFINITE must read for all PCT hopefuls) and, to my surprise, they suggested doing a similar list idea. In the book, it instructs you to make three lists, one titled “I am hiking the PCT because...”, a second “When I successfully hike the PCT, I will...”, and a final, “If I give up on the PCT, I will…”. The thinking behind this is to not give you any wiggle room to bail on your thru-hike as well as really give you a kick in the pants when you need it. I have found that it is great to look over these lists now, to help me get motivated to get some cardio in, make that recipe just sitting in my “Trail Meals” bookmark, or just to do laundry (hey, we all need a kick in the pants to do that sometimes).


     It’s such an elementary question that gets so complicated so quickly. Often, it is the first thing that people ask when they hear that I plan to hike from Mexico to Canada, after “What?!” and “Really?!”. So why exactly am I planning to hike 2,650 miles through a desert, snow covered mountains, and long waterless stretches? Well, here is why.
(NOTE: I am sharing my three lists, please note that I am sharing deep personal reasons that may or may not sound disconcerting out of the context of knowing me. I tried to be very real with myself to not give myself any reason to leave the trail.)

I Am Thru-Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail Because…

  • I want to immerse myself in nature.
  • The dirtbag life has always called to me.
  • I want to have fulfilling life experiences worth sharing.
  • I want to challenge myself.
  • Becoming more confident would be great
  • I love sleeping outside.
  • I deeply want a simpler life.
  • I want to live minimally
  • I want something to feel truly proud of.
  • I want to become more independent.
  • I want to become less depressed.
  • I want to make lifelong friends.
  • I want to be at peace.
  • I want to translate LNT principles to the rest of my life.
  • I want to be nomadic.
  • I want to be more like Aragorn/Viggo Mortensen (personal hero, GIANT LOTR nerd over here).
  • I want to live the way humans have for thousands of years.
  • I want to carry all of the things I need to survive on my back.
  • I want to consume less TV/internet/social media.
  • I’ve always wanted to hitch hike.
  • I want to prove it’s possible to thru-hike while staying 100% vegan.
  • I want to find happiness.
  • I want to hike the PCT.

When I Successfully Thru-Hike the PCT I Will…

  • Positively impacts others lives.
  • Be at peace.
  • Have friends.
  • Have a lasting sense of self-worth.
  • Be able to accomplish tasks on my own.
  • Enjoy doing nothing.
  • Be better at meditating.
  • Know I can conquer any obstacle.
  • Be more at ease with myself.
  • Have a better world view.
  • Have let life be my teacher and guide.
  • Understand myself better.
  • Not be such a bad procrastinator.
  • Have stories upon stories worth telling.
  • Not need or seek out others validation.
  • Have a clearer idea of what I want for the future.
  • Be able to sleep any time, anywhere.
  • Appreciate running water more.
  • Be in great shape.
  • Finally have a tan.
  • Have successfully thru-hiked the PCT.

If I Give Up on the PCT, I Will…

  • Hate myself for giving up on a dream.
  • Probably not hike the Appalachian or Continental Divide trails.
  • Never triple-crown.
  • Regret it forever.
  • Have wasted a lot of time and money.
  • Have zero desire to go back to work.
  • Become deeply depressed.
  • Probably fall back into bad habits.
  • Lack the drive to live alternatively/off-grid
  • Accept a life I am not happy living.
  • Never truly be the joyful/peaceful person I desire to be.
  • Not get the chance to enjoy the whole PCT.
     These lists are going to be constantly growing and changing as time goes on. A reason that may have deeply resonated me last year may no so much now. And that’s okay. The idea behind having a solid reason for hiking is to galvanize your motivation. If you can clearly see why hiking the trail is so important to you, it is easier to accomplish your goal of doing so.
     As you may have noticed at the end of each list, I basically restated the prompt. The reason behind this is that there are a lot of reasons WHY I want to hike. Some of these things probably will happen, and some may not, and that is okay. I don’t want to come off the trail at the end and lose sight of what I really came across the country to do. The most base reason for me getting out there is that

I want to hike from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail.

      Anything else tacked onto that is just gravy.

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