PCT Prep: Why I’m Letting It Go


The PCT Will Have to Wait

Don’t worry! I am still thru-hiking the PCT in March 2020, but I’ve had to put my obsession with prepping aside for a bit.  It has been a while since I have blogged. Writing came easily at the time of the initial excitement of my announcement and then inspiration was clouded by “the stuff.”

Just some of the “stuff.”

Initially, I wanted to claim a space as a funny, quirky writer with a flare for the dramatic; a relatively unlikely hiker, like you or maybe your friend. But, as this novice thru-hiker has learned, I was in for a major change. A change that caused me to stop writing entirely. That unexpected change came far before I set foot on the PCT.

Training and Planning Is Overwhelming Me

More stuff.

You see, I’ve never been backpacking, which is a cause for pause in some people. Usually they want to hear more. Next. I have a husband who I will be leaving for five months to live outside, alone. A response to that is always a concerned: “Oh, really?” As if to say, “Is your marriage on the rocks?” I put on my confidence jacket and own that I am lucky to have Joe who supports me. And, lastly, if my audience has managed to stay with me, I share that I have three young daughters, all whose next birthdays I will miss. Silence.

This silence from others is what has given me pause. I don’t know where the shame crept into my subconscious, but now it’s in there. And it makes me question if I can handle this overwhelming pressure, training and family responsibilities. 

The PCT Is Calling Me

“Three,” “Seven,” “Nine” & Zeus the Moose

Three, Seven, Nine, and Zeus the Moose

The PCT has called and I must absolutely go. This much is certain. However, I am actively choosing to miss my daughters’ next birthdays. They will turn four, eight and ten. I will miss the end-of-year performances, family days, and summer gymnastics workouts. I will miss finding out their new teachers and the first days of school. The first day of pre-K and third grade – the first day of fifth grade. 

Planning Will Have to Wait

“Three,” “Seven,” “Nine” & Zeus the Moose

I’m focusing on them. I’m putting down the kitchen scale, my pack scale, any scale really. I’m setting my pack and gear to the side. Those items and that process can wait for two months. The PCT can wait; my daughters cannot.

Moving Forward


So, for moving forward, we will celebrate their birthdays, their school achievements, and continue our movie marathons. We will go to gymnastics meets together and sign the oldest up for karate at the rec center. I will continue to perfect my French braiding skills and maybe attempt a Dutch braid. Joe and I will do date nights, even if it is hanging out on the porch after the kids go to bed or binge watching some fantasy or sci-fi thing he likes. 

My YouTube channel will focus on what PCT ideas the girls have and will be directed by them. At nighttime, I’m going to put them to bed and smell their hair and kiss their noses. I’ll continue to tell them I love them ad nauseam. As we all fight for the blanket in our bed, I will listen as each of them read their bedtime book out loud. As the yawns begin and they try to stay in our bed to sleep, I think to myself: I have two more months of training, but the training I’m focused on is them. 

(Although they are taking center stage right now, I am wearing my trail runners to bed—snuggling is great, but it won’t get me up over Forester Pass.)

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Comments 22

  • Shannon McCorkle "Piedmont" : Jan 27th

    AWESOME. I have been in the same boat as you while planning my thru-hike. The last 2 months have been planning, testing, researching, Pinterest boards, and watching SO many *#@$^ YouTube videos that I can say, “Hey Y’all” or “Hey Guys” along with them… it’s SO much. I think, the more I plan the better time I will have, right? But you lose sight of everything else around you. I’m so glad you are putting your feelings out there because so many of us echo that same sentiment and we all think it’s incredibly brave.

    It’s weird, this whole ‘internet-strangers cheering you on because we all love hiking’ community, but it’s just that. I too am just going to put all that crap away and enjoy my dog, my chickens, my farm… my family. All that’s left to do is live… and walk.

    Kudos Shannon for keepin’ it real.

    Reply
    • Shannon : Jan 28th

      Thanks, Shannon! You are so right! It definitely becomes a strange reality of relying on people who you don’t even know. But it is so important- thank you so much!❤️

      Reply
  • Shannon : Jan 27th

    Hey Shannon! PCT class of 2018 here. I, too, left behind an incredibly supportive husband (and a sweet pup!) to chase my dream of hiking the PCT. Sure, there were rumors around town that our marriage was on the rocks. I also dealt with some guilt and feelings of selfishness for taking off on this personal journey while he stayed at home and worked his tail off. The thing is…this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and for whatever reason, the stars have aligned for YOU to do this NOW. You have the full support of the only people who matter: your family. Seize this incredible gift that you’ve been given! 🙂 That’s not to say that you won’t have some really tough times out there…I remember one night in particular when I cried myself to sleep because I was so cold, lonely and I missed my husband. Dig deep in those moments and remember your “why.” Parting thoughts: 5 months in the grand scheme of things is such a small period of time. Now, in 2020, my time on the PCT feels like a distant dream/memory. And I can say is that, without a doubt, the PCT is best and coolest thing I ever did. May it give you the clarity and the adventure of a lifetime that it gave me. God speed, Shannon. You got this!

    Reply
    • Shannon : Jan 28th

      Thank you so much for this valuable advice and insight! I’m so thankful for your comment more than you’ll ever know! ❤️

      Reply
  • Nick : Jan 28th

    I think you Rock!

    Reply
    • Nick : Jan 28th

      And you, are the BEST!😘

      Reply
  • Jamie : Jan 28th

    I have not been so ridiculously excited to follow someone’s journey in a long time. Cheering for you every step of the way! I’m planning the AT in 2025 (after our daughter graduates high school in the fall of 2024) alone and also leaving my husband at home.

    Reply
    • Shannon : Jan 28th

      That is so kind! I’m really excited to share my experience: good, bad, hilarious….anything to help me in my journey! ❤️Thank you for supporting me!

      Reply
  • Turtle : Jan 28th

    You are a great mom! The time now will reinforce your love for them and they will be inspired by your accomplishment after your hike!

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Jan 31st

      Thanks, Turtle! 😘

      Reply
  • Eric : Jan 28th

    Shannon,

    I think it would be weirder if you did not have the feelings you do. Doing the PCT really is all about YOU, and leaving behind every vestige of the world you know best. “Stepping out of your comfort zone” is a gross understatement, and it will be hard for you, especially when those inevitable moments of “what the heck am I am doing out here” arrive. But you are so fortunate that you have the support of a loving family who understands (well maybe not really understands, but at least supports) that you need to do this for yourself. Whatever the reason for the attempt, this journey really is the ultimate expression of self love, which is vitally important to our nature, and will only make you stronger and more confident in who you are. And in the end everyone around you will be better for it. And forget about what the naysayers and skeptics have to offer in the way of opinions – they’ll never do anything as awesome as you. Rock on!

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Jan 31st

      Eric, thank you for such a thoughtful comment. You are right and I’m going to keep on moving forward! 🥰

      Reply
  • Pam Martin : Jan 29th

    Shannon, I feel you. I have the same pull toward the trail and the woods and isolation. I always have. And I’m the mom to a 15 year old boy.

    I, too, have always gotten the “But what would he do without you? You’d miss his _______.” Mom shaming is an ugly thing but especially so when it comes from inside us — mine a result of having a shitty never-there (for other reasons) mom as a child myself. There is always this voice saying “See? You’re no better a mom than yours was… wanting to be childless and free and figuring he’ll be fine while you go selfishly chasing happiness.” Ugh.

    But I’ve started my son hiking with me in the past two months. We spend all day on the trail… sweating (I’m 240 lbs but healthy!), REALLY talking, and him without social media for a full 8 hours. And guess what? He’s expressed the same trail-pull-wanderlust as I have!! He’s opened up to me about how he, at 15, could see himself someday hiking the Appalachian Trail or in Europe! So that’s given me the courage to tell myself “HE would get it. HE would understand if I took off for the trail.”

    So screw all those Mom shamers. It’s what you and your family want that matters.

    I’m watching you, girl! Make me proud!

    Reply
    • Late Life Hiker Wife : Jan 29th

      I read your post and LOVE that your son is out there hitting the trails with you!! Maybe you two hit the PCT together! Either way, it sounds like he would completely understand you doing it solo too. I know I would, not that my opinion matters, ha ha! Life can be awful short sometimes, so keep thinking about it, and don’t let your beautiful dream fade.

      Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Jan 31st

      Pam! Thank you so much for sharing your story! You are such an amazing writer! I’d love to hear more about your hikes with your son! Blog!!! 😘

      Reply
  • Laurey Hansen-Carl : Jan 29th

    You are AWESOME! Since you have the support of your husband and children no one else matters. Go for it!

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Jan 31st

      🥰Thank you so much!

      Reply
  • Late Life Hiker Wife : Jan 29th

    Hey Shannon,
    You don’t know me, but I have loved watching your process thus far, which includes your husband and kids (adorbs)! They are part of your journey, and will continue to be, while you’re out there in a few months having GREAT mind-blowing days, and low days. Your girls will see that their Mom loved herself enough to follow her dream for 5 months and they too, will be more apt to follow their own. It’s pretty awesome if you think about it. The ideas you set in their heads now, will shine through later on. Remove your doubt sister (easier said than done), you are SO doing the right thing, you are strong, and have an amazing support system. Happy Trails!

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Jan 31st

      Thanks girl! You are wrong about one thing…I do know you! I follow you on IG and I think I have a sense from this comment and your online presence that we are buds! 🥰

      Reply
  • Mrsdaysie : Jan 31st

    I just found your blog and YouTube channel! I can’t wait to read/watch your journey to finding more of yourself while out on the trail! I am proud of you!

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Jan 31st

      Mrsdaysie-Thank you so much! I’m so happy to have you along on this journey! Find me on IG for the latest info! @fireroamingwild Thanks for supporting me!🥰🙏🏻

      Reply
  • Cat : Feb 4th

    This is all so understandable and (somewhat) relatable for me. I am single and have no children yet I still feel incredibly weird about packing up my life for five months. I too have taken a break from planning – even if that just means enjoying the comfort of my sofa and my Pjs for a while longer! All I can say is I feel you and think what you’re doing is awesome.

    Reply

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