Pizza to Pizza: An Introduction to Our Hike
Allie and I are thru-hiking the PCT this year going northbound from Mexico to Canada. In this post, we are going to do a short introduction, talk about why we are hiking, and set the stage for future posts.
I (Brand New) will generally be writing these blog posts and Allie will generally be creating vlogs and we will both be posting on our Instagram @submergedtrails. I will be writing these posts for friends and family without any backpacking knowledge so I will be explaining a lot of different concepts that may seem basic to experienced backpackers.
Who We Will Be Hiking With
We are super excited to be hiking the PCT with my trailmily from the AT: “The Rubber Duck Gang.” Buck, Robin, and Hedwig were a huge part of my AT hike, and I feel very fortunate to be able to reunite on the PCT! We got our name because we each carried a mini rubber duck mascot on our backpacks that we all got at a Pizza Plus restaurant claw machine game. We will be continuing that tradition on the PCT. Buck, Robin and Hedwig all blogged for The Trek in 2018. You can view Buck and Robin’s posts here and Hedwig’s here.
Who We Are
My civilized name is Connor, but on trail, I go by Brand New. I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (AT) in 2018 going NOBO (going northbound from the southern end of the trail towards the northern end). My interest in backpacking began when I was six years old in cub scouts, where we did a fair amount of camping and hiking. At 11 years old, I joined Boy Scout troop 110 and got to experience a lot of backpacking and a ton of other outdoor adventures. Backpacking is simply combing camping and hiking where you hike to a camp, often in a remote area, and then camp and wake up and do it again the next day.
In my Boy Scout troop, we had a great blend of different backgrounds. The scoutmasters came from different backgrounds like carpentry, electric grid construction, government, project management, and software development. Some of them were old-school West Virginian mountain men. I learned a lot from the scoutmasters and I am very grateful that they volunteered their time.
My first experience with thru hiking was when I was 13 years old. Our troop was doing the Walk Across Maryland – a backpacking trip along the approximately 42 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maryland going SOBO (southbound) from Pennsylvania to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The Older Boys (the patrol/group of older scouts) had done this trip before and I was very excited to do it too. I remember it being challenging but something I was well suited to and found really rewarding. My dad joined me on this trip like he did on almost all of my scouting adventures.
On the trip in the summer of 2008, we were camping at the Ed Garvey shelter. I remember us boys playing “worms” in the upper loft. This game was where we stood up in our cinched sleeping bag last and tackled each other to the floor. Very fun stuff. Around the campfire at dinner time, We got to talk to a thru hiker who was staying in the bottom part of the shelter. I was very impressed by the magnitude of his journey and by the fact that he had hiked over 1,000 miles already. Ever since that night, I have been dreaming about maybe thru-hiking myself someday. The neat thing is that it was 10 years to the week that I passed the Ed Garvey shelter as a thru hiker and I also ran into a Boy Scout troop that was doing the Maryland section. Crazy. I hoped that maybe one of them will be inspired to hike like I was.
I am thru-hiking the PCT this year because I really enjoyed my experience thru-hiking the AT and want to experience the lifestyle of thru hiking again on a different trail. I am beyond excited to be doing the PCT with my beloved fiancé Allie. I can’t wait for her to experience the magic of long-distance backpacking.
Hi! Allie here. Compared to Connor I am a newbie. I never backpacked or camped until I met Connor in 2019. I didn’t have many chances being from Florida. Since day one, Connor has talked about his time on the AT. I never met or even heard of it before our first date. It intrigued me. Never did I think I would want to do one that very day, however.
I am retired college athlete who always longed to feel athletic again. Sports, specifically basketball, were my identity for most of my life. Our first hike together was a famous trail in the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia) called the Billy Goat Trail. I found I was thriving. My athleticism helped me easily climb over rocks, keep up with Connor, and feel confident.
Fast forward six months. The beginning of the pandemic. Connor mentioned wanting to do the PCT possibly in 2021. Deeply in love with him, I said “Maybe I’ll join.” Little did I know what I was getting myself into at that point.
Countless research. Books. Instagram. Investing in an ultralight pack. Going through my first backpacking trip. Three nights. Thirty miles along the AT. I understood from that point. Backpacking is fun. It’s rewarding. As months went on I was getting excited. We ended up deciding to go in 2022 instead of 2021 but I continued researching and following others on their journey.
At first glance, I decided on a whim to join this beautiful soul on an amazing adventure. But as time has gone by, my why has gone through a metamorphosis.
Why? Adventure. Having time with my thoughts. Quality time with my fiancé. Fun. Dirt. Having to push through being uncomfortable. I could continue to list 100 reasons why I want to thru hike the PCT with my fiancé.
Pizza to Pizza
Pizza to pizza is a mantra that we came up with to describe our approach to the nonphysical challenges of long-distance hiking. I try not to think about how many thousands of miles I am planning on hiking. My mind can’t understand distances that long – it is overwhelming.
Instead, I break down the hike into manageable pieces. For instance, if I can hike to the next town, I can get a pizza and relax a little. The hiking is challenging but knowing that in the next town, we can get some delicious food makes it more manageable. We don’t hike 2,650 miles all at once, we hike pizza to pizza.
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