Oops I Did It Again

Why One Thru-Hike Just Wasn’t Enough

Welp, my mother’s biggest nightmare has inevitably come true. In just a few short days, I’ll be setting out to attempt a thru-hike of the PCT, otherwise known as the Pacific Crest Trail.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, I’ve already had the pleasure (and pain) of making my way across the Appalachian Trail a mere two years ago. To put it plainly, it was an experience that tested me in ways I never thought possible. From contracting Lyme to wrestling with plantar fasciitis and the dreaded Norovirus, it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. And despite all that, here I am, gearing up to do it all over again.

The Burning Question: Why Another Thru-Hike?

That’s a really good question, and this time around, I’m finding it really hard to boil down to one prevailing reason. Before setting out to hike the AT, I had a strong sense of conviction in my decision to tackle such a daunting challenge: I needed to leave (my work, my hometown, my routine, you name it). But as I approach my PCT start date (only hours away at this point), it’s curious to note how different my headspace is. I don’t feel this burning desperation to run away as I did before the AT.

Finding Purpose on the Trail

Part of me attributes this shift to the faith I’ve gained from my previous trail experience. I no longer view the trail as some departure from the reality, but instead recognize it as a destination worth running toward and investing in. In that sense, I am really working to frame this experience, not as a getaway, but as a sort of “becoming.”

In short, I’m setting out to do this trail because I believe in its ability to transform me, open my eyes, re-ignite my spark, and so on. I am setting out to do this trail, not to run away from my current afflictions, but to run toward an experience that will enrich and change me in all the ways I’ll allow it to. The mere fact that I can reframe this experience, focusing my attention on what I’m moving toward rather than what I’m leaving behind, is a testament to how much the trail experience has shaped me thus far.

I owe this insight (and so much more) to the greatest and most rewarding challenge of my life. The Appalachian Trail taught me that in a world full of bad news, there is still so much beauty to behold, so much generosity to experience, and so many stories to inspire. And I feel privileged to carry this mindset with me as I embark on this *second* journey of a lifetime on the PCT.

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