The Terminus is Now

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The Golden Ticket


I officially have my PCT Permit and will be starting my journey in Campo California at the Mexico-US border on Monday, May 15th!!

What’s in a “Why”?


As I’ve become enthralled with the PCT over the past few years the coveted “why” is always called into question. “Why are you out here?” “Why are you hiking the PCT?” Each year I’ve heard and read hikers express what called them to trail. What makes them willingly walk for months, covered in dirt, carrying the scent of unkempt body odor more unpleasant than a middle school locker room? Why leave your friends, family, career, and comfort to voluntarily pursue such exquisite discomfort?

 

Incline Village on the TRT

 

The Terminus is Now – My “Why”


I believe deeply in the pursuit of my potential, refuting perfectionism. I love challenging myself with difficult experiences, knowing on the other side of these experiences is exceptional growth. Failure or success, growth nonetheless.

Intentionality is key. To be wholly present in each interaction and experience. To cherish the beauty, difficulty, or novelty of each moment. Each year I’ve heard of hikers reaching the northern terminus at the Canadian border, signifying the end of their journey, only to be underwhelmed. A few wooden poles in a clearing of trees. This is not to undermine the significance of the monument as I, of course, likewise admit that I am not immune to dreams of reaching it. 

The point is, why must we be hyper-focused on a continuous footpath from Mexico to Canada, obsessive to reach the terminus? I want to be entranced in each moment of the trail. Meaningful conversations with hikers and trail angels, awestruck by views, grimacing at blisters begging to be mended. Solitude from the expectations of society: 24/7 wireless connection and deadlines. 

The terminus is now, in each present moment. Loving the process – the ultimate goal is to be present in every moment, not dwell in expectation of the destination. 

Yosemite’s Glen Aulin

“You Can Be Anything You Want to Be”


As children we were always told “You can be anything you want to be.” but as we get older, when it may be just as important to hear it, they stop telling us. I want to be happy hiker trash, and so I will be such. Don’t just cling to your dreams, be disciplined in your pursuit of them.  You don’t need their permission to live as your authentic self. 

 

Hike Your Own Hike


Ah yes, the cliché we’ve all heard far too much, second only to “The mountains are calling and I must go”. Yet, I still love them both. 🙂 Ultimately, you create your own experience. If the obsession to hike a continuous footpath and reach the terminus is what motivates you to reach the end – get after it! If your base weight is 10 lbs or 20 lbs, if you cover 8 miles a day or 30, if you pet every dog you see or blaze trails with headphones in – hike your hike and don’t compare yourself to others. Freedom to be you. Regardless, understand, in each moment the terminus is now. 

PCT Marker

It’s Always The People


In the Hoosier state, there isn’t much of a trail community. Often resigned to hiking alone, it wasn’t until I stepped foot on the Tahoe Rim Trail that I found my community. Solitude certainly has its place, but it is the people that truly make the experience. With 10 miles left to reach camp and wrap up a 29-mile day, exhausted, morale low – I stumbled upon Moss Man. I had begun to think “Maybe this backpacking thing isn’t for me after all.” Lo and behold – a man smiled up at me from a log on the side of the trail. We walked the final ten miles of the day together to camp, my first walk with a stranger. Moss Man spiked my energy and gave me hope. He exemplified the spirit of the trail.

As I wrapped up the Desolation Wilderness section of the TRT I ran into a rather towering man. As he moseyed down the mountain in front of me he yelled “HELLO!” with a big smile. Just as morale had begun to decline yet again, the trail provided. His name was Big Dipper. We stood for twenty minutes discussing gear, the trail thus far, and his previous completion of the JMT. The JMT of which he had begun his hike with a 75lb pack full of whiskey, wine, and all things nice. Experienced hiker tip #1 – whiskey bottles are not ultralight (UL), though certainly essential on occasion.

Yet again, I sat upon a log at the side of the trail, only two days left of my hike, as a gentleman steamed his way toward me. This chap went by the name Funky Bone (“One, singular bone?” I wondered.). We discussed my hike thus far and he casually shared that he was on his FOURTH loop in a row on the TRT. “I had nothing else better to do this summer”. Only to discover that this man was a true OG of backpacking – Having completed the PCT three times, the CDT twice, and the AT once. He shared his wisdom and brought me back to life – inspiring me to finish the rest of my journey. 

It’s always the people. 

 

Sunset over Monroe Lake, Charles C. Deam Loop

 

An Ode to the Trail Community


The trail that leads to it, 

the river which runs through it.

 

Each faded step from the past,

those that came before us, memories to last.

All those to come, inspiration to cast. 

 

A community of unconditional unity.

No explicit expectation of you or me.

Love to be, simply. 

 

This family of strangers amass,

aiding one another to thrive in this life to pass.

 

Sharing our joy, our pain.

Smiles and strain.

 

Passion merely mediated by a trail. 

Pouring into one another –  

my sister, my brother. 

 

 

Thank you all so much for reading and sharing in my journey! Again, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask questions, share some love, and give me a follow on Instagram!

With Love,

Nate

*Featured Image by Rob Thwaites*

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