My Why for the PCT

My start date for the PCT is officially a week away. It still feels like it is months off in a way because I have so many things to do between now and then. I need to take finals, move out of my college dorm room, spend Mother’s day with my mom, see my friends and family before I leave, get a haircut, repack my gear, and go over my resupply strategy one more time.

I’m the type of person that doesn’t really get excited until the moment is actually here. Well, the moment is rapidly approaching and that nervous excitement is starting to creep up. It will hit me when my busyness subsides and I’m lying in bed, clothes laid out, bag packed, my flight to San Diego less than 24 hours away. Not sure how well I’m going to sleep that night. But that means that I’m excited and I know that I’m doing the right thing.

It is a common thing for PCT hikers to make some sort of statement about their “why” for hiking the PCT. There are a few reasons for this. One is that it is a good thing to know before heading out there because your “why” will energize you on bad days and keep you going when nothing else will. Another reason is that we just get asked this question all the time. Why?!

What’s Your Why?

I’ll admit, I’m a little crazy and this thing I’m doing is a little crazy. I mean, who decided that hiking the length of the United States was going to be a thing? I don’t know, but I’m glad they did because it’s an adventure I just can’t pass up. Why? My “why” probably isn’t as boiled down as other peoples’ is. I have a bunch of thoughts floating around my head when this question is asked of me.

On a shallow level, this is just the kind of thing I’m into. I love the outdoors and being in tune with nature. The freedom and disconnect it provides are refreshing and needed no matter who you are. This is just a radical version of that and I’m here for it.

Second, I’m a college student with a summer to kill and I’m tired of being all cooped up due to the global pandemic and all. This is just the expression of freedom I am seeking and needing.

Another reason is that it’s hard and that makes it fun. Maybe I just like punishment, but to me, there is nothing more fun than doing something that you look back on and can barely believe you did it. I look for physical and mental challenges in my life because I know how beneficial they can be. The PCT will be something that chews me up and spits me out. It will also be something that holds unparalleled joy waiting to be grasped. This spectrum of emotions is where memories are made and where true fun is held. I can’t wait.

Lastly, and this is probably the most ethereal of my “whys”, is the feeling that I get when thinking about the PCT. I just feel drawn to it. Like a bunch of tiny threads are pulling me in that direction. Whether it be divine providence or just plain excitement, I’ve learned to listen to this feeling throughout my life and I’m listening to it again. There are a million reasons to write off this dream, but there always are and there always will be. No more excuses. I’m following that tugging feeling.

So that’s why I’m setting out on this journey. For the nature, for the challenge, for the fun. But mostly because as John Muir says, “the mountains are calling—and I must go.”

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