Planning In The Face Of Adversity
When it comes to the hiking community, it’s easy to let others get in your head and influence your hike. This can come in the form of fear mongering, opinions, or other negative comments. With this year expected to be a “high snow year” on the Pacific Crest Trail, I’ve noticed a lot of negativity and pessimism online. When planning, it’s easy to let these views influence your attitude about an upcoming hike and make yourself less optimistic.
Although this upcoming snow may seem like a detriment to my hike, I’ve been trying to keep a level head and be optimistic. In the face of adversity, I’m trying to keep a level head when planning and eventually, hiking.
My Experiences Planning
My planning for the Pacific Crest Trail this year has largely been online. Reading statements, stories, gear lists, and experiences by former thru hikers and past backpackers. With many forums and many walks of life backpacking, it’s easy to get differing opinions and methods when it comes to becoming successful. With many sides, it’s very hard to process and take something away from people.
I find myself leveling my thoughts between my own experiences and trying to understand others while juggling with my own experiences. I know what has worked for me, but seeing others swear by how they hiked and changing your perspective is hard. Especially when it comes to different terrain and different trails.
By no stretch would I consider myself an experienced backpacker. Although I have thru hiked the Appalachian Trail, I still find myself learning more about ways to improve my experiences.
Q: Well Logan, if 2200+ miles of backpacking isn’t enough, than what makes you experienced?
A: I have no idea. If there’s anything I’ve learned about backpacking is that you can plan all you want but, you’ll still get new things thrown your way. It’s about being flexible and resilient. I guess you just get more willing to roll with the punches.
It’s easy to absorb everything like a sponge when you’re still learning but, you also have to take everything with a grain of salt. Online forums are kind of hard to gauge for useful information especially when everyone has different comfort levels and different goals. One person may be UL and sleep with the bare minimum and another may be okay with their framed pack with a 25lb bag of peanuts. Different strategies, but each offer valuable information it’s just all about how you interpret it.
Not only are there different methods, but also differing attitudes. My experience planning this year, I have seen lots of pessimism about the high snow. I’ve already heard that NOBO will be terrible this year and everyone MUST switch to SOBO otherwise you’re going to be unable to hike at all. This simply isn’t true. Hiking north is still possible it just may be more difficult, and that’s OKAY! Snow like many other things is something I’m willing to face and learn from. It can’t be all sunshine and rainbows but all will be okay!
All of this has made planning not only difficult but confusing. Research leaves me with so many questions, and some answers but not enough. You really need to get out there before you make decisions, which leads me to think about my own experiences.
My Experiences Hiking
When it comes to my time hiking, I’ve noticed to take other’s advisories with a grain of salt. Not to say that you should completely ignore advice, being cautious is good. But, it’s always good to see things for yourself. When hearing about snow on the Pacific Crest Trail, it reminds me a lot of my times on the Appalachian Trail. There were many times where I’d hear “it’s going to be a gnarly lightning storm” OR that “it’s too late, you need to flip!”.
All of these scenarios, I took my own judgement and kept a level head and prevailed. In the rain, I made sure to not ignore, but be cautious of lightning. I did my miles, even if they weren’t the best but I was glad I did. Progress is always better than saying put, even if it means being out of your comfort zone. As far as being “behind” on pace for NOBOs, all it took was making a plan and committing to it.
Taking a chance and having those experiences is what made the trail memorable to me. Those “type 2” fun days are what sticks in my head the most.
How I Am Attempting to Overcome Adversity
On the Pacific Crest Trail, I’m planning to overcome adversity and face the snow. I’m planning to embracing this experience and learning from it. It’s going to be a different experience and I’m all in. Although I’ve never hiked in snow, I’m researching things that will be pertinent to my hike. Although it’s easy to shy away from adversity, you can take the steps to learn and overcome it. Things such as crossing flowing streams, using microspikes, glissading, and other strategies to traverse in snow are all coming into play. It’s okay to be nervous, but don’t let other’s comments and fears interfere with your plans. There are obstacles to overcome and if you take the right steps you will able to succeed. It’s all about taking that first leap of faith.
There’s being pragmatic and then there’s fear mongering. Others have walked this path before, and if they can you can too. (2017 class, I’m looking at you!) Take the steps to succeed and you most likely will.
Anyways best of luck to us all out there this year, can’t wait to see what happens.
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