As we reach the nine-week mark between me and my PCT hike, I’ve been thinking more and more about why hiking the trail is important to me. I’ve made lists about why I want to thru-hike, but this time around I’ve really been contemplating the “why” behind the “whys”. While I’ve been thinking, several things have really stuck in my mind. These thoughts continue to catapult around my head like super bouncy balls. Here are some of the thoughts that have been sticking around.
People Live In Homes
It sounds pretty dumb, right? But it’s true; people live in houses. That is their home. It belongs to them. Most people who live in those homes put a significant amount of effort, time, and care into the upkeep of their house. They work hard to keep it clean and orderly, a place that is a comfort and joy to live in. However, the second they leave their home, they cease to care. What people fail to realize is that the world around them is also their home. The world is ours. It belongs to all of us.
If someone came over and trashed your home, and I mean utterly trashed it, you would probably be pretty angry. So why is it that feeling of anger just dissipates when we walk out our doors. When we see river edges slicked in oil and punctuated with garbage, animals trapped in plastic waste, or our skies filling with smog, why does it not elicit the same anger? Why do we not have the same drive to fix it, or to prevent it from happening in the first place? When did leaving the planet a better place for our families become a partisan issue? This planet is our home. We should put significant effort, time, and care into the upkeep of it. Because unlike the structures that we deem “home”, we don’t have another home planet we can move into.
This is something that happens almost disturbingly often. I will be on some form of social media page about the Pacific Crest Trail, reading about permits, Leave No Trace principles, or the most recent preservation efforts. Inevitably, there will be a reply claiming “I don’t need a permit! It’s nature, I’ll go where and when I’ll please!” Or “Toilet paper is wood, you DO NOT need to pack it out or even BURY it!” Not to mention “Stove bans are useless! It would take an absolute IDIOT to start a fire with a pocket-rocket style stove!” These types of comments never cease to baffle me.
I can never understand why someone would spend hours and hours reading about the trail. To take time and effort to study the water report and resupply points. To spend thousands of dollars to buy equipment to hike it. Then to turn around and vehemently insist on leaving it a worse place while they’re on trail. I cannot put myself into the mindset of wanting to go out into nature for an extended period of time, to simply not care about the repercussions of my actions while I’m out there.
I know that there are a myriad of reasons that one may decide to go and hike the trail besides experiencing nature. In the end it boils down to the fact that it is our job to preserve the trail, and all of our wild spaces, for the other people who are also thinking about making the same journey. If all I have to do to make sure the trail is kept as pristine as possible is to have one week without a stove, 10 minutes to apply for a permit, or two seconds to put my used TP in a plastic baggie, then I sure as hell will.
I Need to Relax
I am one of those people who is very prone to being over-stressed. What makes it worse is that I hate sitting down and mindlessly watching TV, but It is something that ends up happening rather frequently. I hate it so much that it ends up making me more stressed when I’m supposed to be “relaxing”. About a week or two ago, amid my whole over-training possible-stress-fracture debacle, I was thinking to myself what true relaxation would be. Immediately, the image of me getting out of a tent in the morning after a great day of hiking and sleeping outside (possibly my favorite thing ever) came to mind. It kind of took me by surprise that the answer came so simply and easily.
One of the best times I’ve ever had was when my husband and I went on a week-long waterfall camping/road trip in Southern Indiana. We had an amazing time. I had never felt so free and open before. Besides getting to our campsite reservation, we had no concrete plan and we could do whatever pleased us. Going to sleep when it got dark and waking up when the sun rose felt amazing. Having food over a fire, then hiking to a beautiful waterfall was nourishment for the soul.
After that moment of realization that outside is my relaxation, I remembered that I get to do a whole five or six months of nothing but being in nature. I get to be free, do whatever pleases me, hike until my heart’s content and then some. Adventure will be my life, with my only stipulation of getting to the post office on time. I know the PCT will bring me unique challenges that I hardly, if ever, face in the “normal world”. I think doing what I love will make it easier to take the challenges in stride.
As we get closer to my start date, things are getting more real. Stick around for more weekly posts about what I am doing to prepare for my PCT adventure!
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