PCT Questions, Predictions, and Reflections!!

I was inspired by the final episodes on the “Trail Correspondents” podcast by Backpacker Radio which had the correspondents pose questions that they would respond to after their hike on the podcast. It was incredible to hear their reflections and experiences from the trail. Based on this, I asked some family and friends to ask me questions that they would like me to answer following my PCT journey. I thought it would be interesting to compare my thoughts prior to the trail with my actual thoughts and reflections post trail. Their questions definitely had a theme of perseverance and personal drive which is spot on when it comes to my future success on the trail! This is Part 1 of a 2 part blog!


My Sister’s Question

“When was a time you wanted to quit and what helped you to keep going?”

There will be days that are mundane, and isolating, as well as overall extremely challenging. Those are days where I anticipate feeling like quitting is the only option.  In order to stay motivated and keep going, I will continually have to remind myself of why I chose to take on the experience. It’ll be important for me to allow space for those emotional struggles, while still remaining grounded in my need to accomplish this goal. I know it is important to acknowledge the struggle but I will have to ensure it does not consume me. I predict that those around me on the trail and family/friends will keep me going as well. Simple words of encouragement and empathy will go a long way!

I also can’t stand wet feet, and that is inevitable, so…. I guess I will have to learn how to power through that! 


A Friend’s Question

“What was the biggest struggle you faced on the hike? How did you overcome it?”

In addition to the reasons above, a struggle I anticipate having will come in the form of self-doubt, me questioning if I am fit to complete this hike. Do I actually belong on the trail? The only way to overcome this is to prove myself wrong. Take each challenge or situation one at a time. Accomplishing small wins each day or even one minute at a time and celebrating them will be critical to completing this hike. 


My Mom’s Question

“How long did it take you to find a trail family and did you stay together the whole time?”

A couple factors may affect finding a trail family quickly. I do have an early permit date so there may not be a ton of hikers on the trail yet. Moreover, I am by nature an introvert. I know that I will find people with similar interests, and hiking styles but it may take time. I do think that realistically, my trail family may change along the way. This is inevitable due to many factors at play during a thru-hike. One thing I know is that I will meet some amazing people from all different walks of life which will be an unique experience!


My Twin Brother and his husband’s Question

Where or what was the most awe-inspiring view?

I’m moved by the realization of how small we, as humans are, in relation to the world around us. I think I will be inspired by terrain that reminds me of how truly magnificent and expansive the earth is. This could be at the base of a huge mountain, on top of a 13,000 ft pass, deep within a forest surrounded by massive trees, or during a clear night where the sky is filled with stars. 


My Dad’s Question

“How did you benefit from this hike both mentally and physically?”

Since this is a personal goal that I have set for myself, I believe I will benefit simply by accomplishing such an amazing feat. I will benefit from building confidence in myself, trusting myself more, and affirming that despite the drastic steps I took to hike, I made the right decision for myself at this time in life. Physically I will most likely have muscles in places I never knew could build muscles! I will be sore, and drained but I would be proud that my body took me as far as it did. Day after day, mile after mile and every ascend/descend in between!


My Stepmom’s Question

How did you integrate back into society after your hike?

This may be a challenge initially. I know that I will need to be very intentional with my time and re-establishing my own routines. It’ll be important to continue to exercise and take care of myself. I would hope to remain connected to the hiking community and those that I met along the way. I also think that it will be beneficial for me to share my experiences with others back home. 


A Friend’s Question

“What is something you conquered on your hike, that you never thought you could?”

I think that one thing that I may conquer during this hike is the fear of the unknown. Being a type A person, I tend to have my life planned to the minute. I create checklists, cross the items off, and create a new one. The hike will challenge the way my brain is wired. There will be so many unknowns and unexpected events that will occur and that I will need to adapt to.


A Friend’s Question

“Where will this hike take you next in life?”

Part of this experience is allowing me time and space to determine what I want to do next in life. I chose to leave a job I still loved, friends and a support system, in a state that provided endless opportunities to explore nature. It is hard to tell what will come next so I know I will need to remain open to receive clarity on the trail. This hike might bring me right back to my previous life or it may guide me to the next purpose I will serve in life. With all that being said, if I had to predict where life will take me after my hike, I could easily end up at an educational institute that specializes in nature-based learning experiences for children (very specific…..) or on an all natural farm in the middle of nowhere.


My Therapist’s Question

“What were you proudest of throughout this experience? “

I want to believe that I will be proud to say that I was able to remain mentally/emotionally strong and positive throughout the hike. I know I will encounter challenges and feel defeated at times. However, I want to be able to say that I did it all with a grateful heart and a smile on my face….. 92% of the time!


A Friend’s Question

Did your palette for food change after completing your hike?

Immediately after the hike, I assume I will be craving anything fresh that is not a pile of mush. I don’t expect that my entire diet will change as a result of this hike but it is hard to predict. Bodies often desire specific things due to a lack of nutrition, vitamins, and minerals. With my extensive preparation for a gluten-free, vegan diet on the trail I am hoping I will be able to accomplish a balanced and healthy diet that will continue after the hike.


My Cats Gordy and Nugget’s Question

“Did you miss us?”

100%!! I did however feel like they were with me because I continually found their hair in my resupply boxes because they felt the need to protect them for me at home!


Other Questions From Family and Friends:

Other questions that family and friends submitted! (some are definitely more serious than others)

  • What was the coolest wild animal encountered?
  • What was your favorite meal or least favorite?
  • How many shoes did you burn through?
  • Would you do it again?
  • How did you get your trail name?
  • In the likely event you meet your future wife, how will she adjust to you moving back to Arizona?
  • If you are on a hike and starving, were you willing to eat an egg from a nest?
  • In what ways has this goal taught you about my immediate goals (occupationally, socially, and in the creation of a relationship or family)? 
  • In what ways will you take what this goal has meant to you with you moving forward? 
  • What makes you confident that this was the correct decision for you? 


Stay Tuned for Part 2

I look forward to sharing my responses at the conclusion of my hike. It will be interesting to reflect and see how my experiences affect my responses.

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