Post PCT: Bathing in Reflection


This time, two years ago, Marie and I (not yet Basecamp & Yeti Legs) were selling the last of our worldly possessions (including our cars), wrapping up our jobs, mailing off boxes stuffed with pounds of junk food, and preparing to fly to San Diego.

We started the PCT on March 6, 2022, and touched the Northern Terminus on September 2, 2022, 181 days later. We’d been through highs and lows, but never broke our footpath. Our lives have never been the same since hiking that first mile in early March.

Like so many other thru-hikers post trail, we’ve realized just how much “the trail” gave and stripped away. What did it give? Volumes: courage, connectivity, confidence, laughter, fear, a sense of community, hope, adventure, love, and longing. What did it strip away… any inhibition from the real world, the cotton world, that may have prevented us from feeling and experiencing those gifts it gave. However, there’s also an ever-present hole now. A hole filled with those memories from the PCT and beyond. It’s not a gaping, black hole that needs to be filled, but one flickering with brief moments and joys from our time in the wild. When one of those moments from California to Washington “pop” into our heads, it’s like reconnecting with an old friend. A part of us is still on that dirt path with its rocky ridges, intense heat, deep river crossings and bounty of seemingly endless nature. That piece of us is fixed there somewhere between Mexico and Canada, and we have no desire for it to come home because, well, the PCT was our home.

We’re told that if we have a hole in our life, it’s bad; it should be filled with religion, or a hobby, or career, or love. I don’t think the hole will ever be filled, and I don’t want it to. There will always be another trail to conquer, more mountains to climb, new hikers to meet. Some deep primality within us was allowed to breathe – to see light, like the fissure opened some cage built by urban culture and society. So, I’m grateful to the PCT because it showed me (and Basecamp) things in this world we never knew we needed: the love of thru-hiking, to push our mental limits, and to be enraptured in awe. To be in awe is the closest we come to God, and ourselves.

We’ve hiked other trails following the PCT and will continue to bag the long trails this world can offer, but they’ll fall just a tad shy of the mark compared to the Pacific Crest Trail. It was our first, our beloved, our crucible. So, writing all these thoughts out on a blank, digital piece of paper seems a bit ironic since we yearn for the unknown, the tangible, the natural. But I guess there’s a bit of beauty in that duality. The modern technology we know, the comfortable advances we have, they make us appreciate the rugged and raw backcountry that much more. Without darkness, you can’t appreciate the light. In duality comes comparison, and inherent in humankind: self-evaluation.

Seeing posts from current hikers fills me with emotions of both envy to do what they are, and happiness for them to experience what we know is in store. Writing these blogs and recording podcast episodes is a way in which Basecamp and I self-evaluate: it’s a processing space. As we pull up photos and recall moments, those little flitting snapshots of a time in the wild show us our past and present selves. We have a standard to look at: who we were before and who we are now. You can’t compare something to itself without knowing what it once was. So, as we plot, and plan, and scheme of hikes to come- hikes littered with future memories to join those others in that insatiable hole, we also bathe in reflection, a momentary balm for the soul.

Your next adventure is just over the horizon.


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Comments 1

  • Ken Hale : Mar 8th

    Your ‘bathing in reflection’ post is right on! I only have one comment to add. ‘Ditto!’
    We are many years ahead of you, now being 75 and 76 years old, and I’m telling you the memories keep on presenting themselves as though it were yesterday. Keep on hiking.
    Ken and karen


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