T-7 Days. Lists. Life.
T-7 days until the beginning of my thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail!!
In the post before my gear post I mentioned that I was off to Hawaii for a couple of months to work as a caregiver/companion for a friend of a friend. The actual job was a lot more stressful than anticipated, but I did it! AND it was rewarding. Hawaii is so beautiful and I fell madly in love with that magical place. Plus, this allowed me to top off my funds for the PCT! Which is exactly what I needed. I returned to the Midwest at the beginning of March, where I promptly saw all of the doctors. I needed to get my foot checked out before I hiked again, had my teeth cleaned and filled (oops…), a general check up was required after the whole Lyme disease fiasco, etc etc. And then I was off AGAIN to work for a week. By the time I return it was mid March and there was a family fiasco and I was trying to buy food for my resupply boxes, but really everything was (and is) a bit mad. Which I guess always happens before a thru hike. I made time for friends and family, which was wonderful, but then there was trouble with our house and cars. Really just all of these things going wrong to the point that I had to ask my family, “Do you need me to stay home?” They said, “No! Go!” Which was such a relief, but I can’t help but feel a bit guilty. I guess that’s what happens when you love people and things get rough.
So then it was a week before I’m supposed fly out to San Diego and we get a call saying that my cousin had died. I loved her so much and out of all of my cousin’s she was the only one who really knew me and accepted all my different parts. And now I’m shattered, but I don’t have time to be shattered because we hopped on a plane to fly down to Texas for the funeral. That’s actually where I’m writing this from right now, a hotel room in Texas, while I take a “time out” from handling everything. If things weren’t mad before, they are now. I keep flipping from being heartbroken, to being happy about seeing family, to being completely anxious that I won’t be able to get everything done in the three days before I leave for my hike. At this point I really just need the trail. I know that a week from now I’ll be hiking in the desert and that all I’ll really be worried about is where the water sources are and hoping for a decent camp site. I’m so ready for the trail to strip everything down to what’s essential and for the time to heal and process the many different things that have happened since I’ve been home from Hawaii.
Pacific Crest Trials
In between family bonding, food, and sleep, I’ve been trying to prep for my thru hike in whatever way I can while away from home. I’ve updated and fixed up my personal blog, spent time perusing Guthook’s PCT app, and made a resupply guide for my mom who’s going to mail out my boxes for me. I’ve also been checking out my copy of Pacific Crest Trials. I had read Appalachian Trials already, but it was especially good to reread the “before the trail” sections to help mentally prepare myself. There’s also a great gear chapter done by Liz “Snorkel” Thomas. She’s hiked over 10,000+ miles (including both the PCT and AT) and a certified badass. I highly recommend reading Pacific Crest Trials before your hike, especially if you haven’t thru hiked before. It really tells what the trail is going to be like and the mental challenges you will face, which is essential if you want to complete a long distance hike.
And because of this I’m posting a thing I didn’t post before my attempt at the Appalachian Trail last year. LISTS. In both Appalachian Trials and Pacific Crest Trials Zach Davis suggests making three lists before you begin your thru hike. Something to return to and keep you focused while you’re suffering from exposure, dehydration, homesickness, and the vast variety of ailments one can suffer during a thru hike. So here are mine!
I am hiking the PCT because…
– There are things I still need to prove to myself
– I want to see those western US mountains! And ALL of the beautiful things
– It’s my chance to thru hike before I go to Nursing school and attempt to be a “legitimate” adult
– I want to become a mile eating machine, where food is fuel and I have legs of steel
– People. I’d love to acquire a trail family and I long to be immersed in hiking culture once again
– I want to experience life minimally. Where my biggest concern is where the next water source is
– I demand the full thru hiking experience! I want to walk from Mexico to Canada with a pack on my back
– I’ve never been to Canada before (so clearly I should walk there from Mexico)
When I successfully hike the PCT, I will…
– Be so, so strong
– Have the biggest confidence boost EVER
– Remember what’s really essential in life
– Have gained further skills in self reliance and perseverance
– Be ready to take on “real life” challenges and have the reminder I need that I am completely capable of achieving my goals
– Begin a new chapter in my life
– Have great legs. Such. Great. Legs.
– Have an incredible experience to look back on and know there are many more adventures to come
– Begin planning for my next hike
If I give up on the PCT, I will…
– Be so incredibly disappointed with myself, just generally bummed. I’d go so far as to say I’d be devastated.
– Have spent a lot of money on gear and food that I didn’t eat or use to its full potential.
– Feel inordinate amounts of shame and guilt.
– Probably require an MRI to check for brain tumors
The last list though, while there, probably won’t be necessary for me. There is always the potential that I’ll need to go home for family reasons or due to an injury, but that doesn’t mean I will “give up” on the PCT. Even if it’s not this year, I WILL hike the Pacific Crest Trail. And the Appalachian Trail, for that matter.
And so that’s the chaotic mess that I’m in! I still have boxes to top off, a mariposa to pack, and an even longer list of both mundane and essential things I need to do once I return home. I know I’ll make it to San Diego and the trail and that everything will work itself out, but damn. Life can be stressful. I don’t see myself posting here before I leave, but at present my plan is to post when I’m in town and there’s an accessible computer. I’m ecstatic for the journey that’s to come! I’m excited for all of the things I will see, the people I will meet, the hardships I will overcome, and the fulfillment I’ll feel hiking from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail.
BONUS: If anyone needs some trail therapy and can’t get out there and hike, I just re watched the thru hiker made documentary Do More With Less. It’s free to watch on vimeo and it’s beautiful and perfect and I highly recommend watching it. I promise you will not be disappointed! It’s the best documentary account of a long distance thru hike that I’ve seen.
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