You Want to Hike, But Have a Family, Responsibilities
This is me, and probably many of you reading this.
To put it into perspective, I haven’t just left school and going into a gap year and I’m not retired. I am a wife, I am a mother to a nine-year-old daughter, we have a mortgage, we have bills, and we both work full time and I want to fulfill my life goal and thru-hike the PCT in 2019.
How I Told My Family
I’ve only hiked the Overland Track in Tasmania, Australia. It’s a seven-day hike, with a total length of 82 kilometers (51 miles) and the luxury of wooden trail huts for overnight accommodation. The highest peak in Tasmania, Mount Ossa, 1,617 meters (5,305 feet) is a return day hike from the track.
I also had some gear, tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad, pack, and cooking pots that I used when I cycle toured and backpacked. The gear was 20 years old and no good for a thru-hike.
In June 2017 our family holiday took us to the US. I took my husband and our then seven-year-old daughter to REI. I explained that in two years I would like to thru-hike the PCT and we are here to start buying gear.
Later that night, we sat down as a family and I explained the trail, the time it would take, budget, and answered all the questions my husband and daughter asked me. And with that, permission and support received. I am going to thru-hike the PCT in 2019, and I am so excited.
How I Am Preparing My Family
My husband and I both served 20 years in the Royal Australian Navy, so we are used to the separation and being away from home for long periods of time. However, I will be leaving my daughter at home with her dad. For five to six months he will be both dad and mum.
As for my daughter, I took her out for a hike, to see if she would enjoy hiking. She loved it, so much so that I bought her a pack, trekking pole, clothes, and boots. Our adventures now include longer hikes, overnight camping, and talking about the PCT. It is important for her to see me out hiking, setting up the tent, cooking food, so when I’m on the trail, and we are talking about hiking, camping, and cooking, she can picture these things in her mind and understand what I’m doing. And she loves toasting marshmallows over the MSR Pocket Rocket!
Involving your family in your hiking, talking and watching preparation, are just as important as your own thru-hike preparation.
Communicating from the Trail
I have a wall map of the PCT that I will hang in our kitchen and a little arrow, so my daughter will be able to follow my hike on the map. My family will also be able to track my hike through my Garmin inReach. I will send a postcard from each trail town and make a call home weekly.
Parenting from the Trail
Not parenting as such, but from the other side of the world, I will convey words of love, support, and encouragement. That is all that you can do.
Involving My Daughter’s School Class
I talked to my daughter’s teacher, as for five to six months her moods could be different at school, she will miss her mum, and those words “when are you coming home” will be spoken frequently.
The class will also follow my progress on a map and will once a week watch a YouTube video of my hike. And upon my return, I will visit the class with my pack and answer their questions.
There is a lot that you can do to prepare and involve your family, to make your thru-hike a success.
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