Ready, Set, Trek! My Journey from Doubts to Dreams in Preparation of the PCT

Tackling all the to do´s 

As my departure date gets closer, I find myself looking proudly at the planning board I crafted six months ago. Preparing for the Pacific Crest Trail involves a lot of administrative tasks, even more if you are coming from abroad. From obtaining the long-distance permit and securing a US visa to sorting out travel logistics and arranging pre-trail accommodation, the checklist seems endless. Additionally, there’s the crucial task of assembling all the necessary gear and strategizing about resupply points along the way. Rather than delving into the details of each preparation step, I wanted to share how I managed to maintain an organized overview amidst the chaos of planning. While some adventurers opt for minimal preparation, I thrive on structure and planning. Thus, I devised a planning board, and as time passed, I diligently moved more and more post-it notes from the “to-do” category to “in progress” or “done,” which provided a satisfying sense of progress.

Planning board

Mental & physical preparation

In anticipation of the mental challenges that await me on the trail, I hope to draw upon my past experiences to strengthen my resilience. With a clear understanding of my purpose for hiking, and a determination not to give in to minor setbacks, I hope to weather the storms that inevitably arise along the journey. 

While I did not follow the practice of daily walks with my pack and gear, gradually increasing distance, my active lifestyle serves as a foundation for physical fitness. Additionally, I explored several weekend hikes in my surroundings to acclimate myself to extended periods of walking. I’m passionate about sports, particularly running and climbing, and my weeks are often filled with them. Additionally, I integrated strength and flexibility exercises into my routine to reduce the risk of injury. However, a small setback occurred when I injured myself in a bizarre way during a padel match. Apparently unaware of the enclosed glass walls surrounding the padel court, I collided with one, resulting in a concussion and two broken teeth. Nevertheless, I believe I have the basics to start hiking the PCT and get fitter along the way. 

Because of the flat terrain of the Netherlands, preparing for the mountainous challenges of the PCT presented an obstacle. Undeterred by this limitation, I sought out the steepest inclines available in my country to simulate the demands of hiking in rugged terrain. One memorable excursion took me to the hills in the south of the Netherlands, where I embarked on the Dutch Mountain Trail—a somewhat ironically named path that offered only a very modest taste of the elevation changes awaiting me on the PCT. To provide context, the highest hill reached a mere 322 meters. Besides that, I journeyed to France and Belgium to experience different environments and further enhance my physical preparation.

Campsite along the Dutch Mountain Trail

Hiking along the coast of Bretagne

Hiking in the Ardennes in Belgium

Preparation weekend with fellow PCT hikers

One particularly noteworthy aspect of my preparations involved participating in a weekend organized by two former PCT hikers from the Netherlands. For several years, they’ve been hosting these preparation weekends for aspiring PCT hikers from the Netherlands and Belgium. I eagerly joined in on the wilderness training they offered. During the evenings, we delved into the theoretical aspects of handling various emergencies and learned how to interact with wildlife. Throughout the days, we embarked on hikes and put into practice all the newly acquired knowledge. This experience significantly boosted my confidence for the upcoming adventure. Furthermore, the weekend brought together several former PCT hikers. Engaging in conversations with them, who had firsthand experience on the trail, offered invaluable insights and perspectives beyond what I could gather from blogs and videos alone.

Learning how to stabilize a leg

Learning how to stabilize a leg


With all the preparations underway, I’ve found myself imagining what life on the trail will truly be like. Having immersed myself in numerous books recounting hikers’ experiences on the PCT, I’ve often envisioned myself walking alongside the protagonists. However, I recognize that each individual’s journey is unique, and I’m genuinely curious to discover how I’ll perceive and navigate through it. I’m consciously trying not to dwell too much on expectations. Instead, I’m trying to embrace a sense of openness and readiness for whatever unfolds. Nonetheless, there are a couple of personal aspirations I hope to develop during my hike. Firstly, I often find myself preoccupied with future plans and ambitions, always striving for bigger and better things. Perhaps, in the simplicity and serenity of the trail, I’ll learn to savor the present moment more fully and find contentment in the here and now. Secondly, I anticipate encountering people on the trail with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and passions. I love engaging with individuals who are passionate about something, and now we will share a common passion. I look forward to gaining a deeper understanding of other people’s perspectives and ideas through encounters with a diverse array of individuals on the trail.


While I’m incredibly enthusiastic about going on my hiking adventure, I can’t ignore the doubts that have crept into my mind regarding whether it’s the right decision. As I prepare to live in a tent for six months, I’m aware of my privilege in a world where so many struggle with homelessness. It feels absurd to me that I am going to live for five months in a tent for fun, while some people try to escape a tent to a real home as soon as they can. Moreover, the decision to fly to the USA for this journey weighs heavily on my conscience, as the plane emissions have a significant contribution to climate change. I could also explore the beauty closer to home as an alternative. The internal conflict between my personal desires and my principles leaves me struggling with feelings of guilt and selfishness. So why am I still pursuing this dream? Honestly, at this moment, I do not have a clear answer. When I set my mind on something, it becomes stuck until I act upon it. Somehow, I cannot seem to let go of my dream to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. I know I will have to confront these feelings of guilt along the trail. However, I also anticipate experiencing intense happiness of immersing myself in nature and minimizing my reliance on modernity for example on electricity. I view my time on the trail as an opportunity to reflect on the kind of person I aspire to be. 


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Comments 1

  • Marieke : Apr 12th

    How wonderful to read about your approach to life! You don’t shy away from a challenge! Believe in your own strength, enjoy and trust yourself!!


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