Leaving Our Cat Is The Hardest PCT Prep

Our thru-hike start date is approaching… quickly. The sudden onset of the new year has made me realize that it’s time to really focus on our hike preparations.

man and woman snowshoeing. thru-hike

Snowshoeing on Christmas Day.

The end of 2017 was a whirlwind. Thru-hiking thoughts took a backseat to everything else. Wrapping up wedding photo season along with family sessions took up the biggest chunk of time, along with a stressful few weeks at my 9 to 5 job. Before I knew it, the holidays had arrived and the end of the year came and went way too fast.

But now that it’s 2018, PCT preparation is my top priority.

Thru-Hike Gear

I am super close to finalizing my gear list. I only have a couple more items to make decisions on and I will post my gear list here on my blog.

a photo of a cat in a cardboard box

Gear acquisition has been an ongoing process since last May. Miles and I have both bought gear on sale as much as possible throughout the past eight months. Apart from discounted items, we have also been fortunate enough to receive a few gift cards for Christmas. Now that it’s after Christmas, we have been able to purchase most of the remaining gear items on our lists. Every time a package arrived on our doorstep, it was like Christmas came all over again!

Now, our cat is enjoying the empty boxes and mounds of packing paper all over our kitchen floor.

Treadmill = Trail Legs?

a photo of a female runner. Thru-hike

A much warmer race last year than my next race in February.

One of the most common questions we receive is, “How are you training for your thru-hike?” And to be honest, we aren’t really doing anything different than what we would normally do. Both Miles and I have always been into sports, so working out every day is the norm. And for some unearthly reason, I am running a 10-mile race in just a few weeks. The temperature that day could be anywhere between -10 and 40 degrees. Last week, it was -20 with wind chill. The other day, it was pushing 50 degrees.

Our workout routine doesn’t change much because we are thru-hiking. We both play soccer twice a week, which involves lots of running. I run four other days during the week (and try my best to avoid the dreaded treadmill) and go to the gym three times per week to lift. I think the most important thing for us is to just stay in decent shape over the winter. If anything, I am more committed to staying in shape than I was prior to our Appalachian Trail thru-hike. We found that those first weeks on-trail were our training period and that easing into the miles worked best.

On The Home Front

I’ve placed this section last because it’s the most heartbreaking. I’ll get to that in a minute.

The home front includes all of the things that we will need to take care of prior to our hike so that we have a life when we return.

Living quarters: We are very fortunate to have a supportive landlord who is allowing us to keep our apartment while we’re hiking. We actually got this apartment less than two months after completing the AT. Miles showed up with his hiker beard (he also had done some weird shave job which was very questionable in appearance) and we got the apartment almost immediately. We have been here ever since and we were thrilled when our landlord was receptive to us taking off for half the year.

Yes, we will still be paying to keep our apartment, but it is absolutely worth it to us to have the stability of a home when we return to Maine. The fact that we don’t have to move out prior to hiking and then find a new apartment when we return takes off a huge load of stress.

Bills, bills, bills: Bills are never fun. Thankfully, however, keeping on top of them while we’re away won’t be difficult due to the magic of autopay. We both have a car, but only one designated spot in our apartment driveway. We plan to leave one car here and one at my parents’ house in a spot that’s out of the way. Thank you mom and dad for being the best parents ever.

I know that they’re reading this and I need to suck up as much as I can because they are also going to be taking care of the most important thing in our lives while we’re away.

No. Not my car.

a photo of a white catOur cat, Pi: Meet Pi, a 4-year old wonder of a feline. I will wholeheartedly admit the following:

  • I love this cat more than anything.
  • If I ever did quit the PCT, it would be because I will miss this guy way too much.
  • I did my seventh grade science project on cat behavior and won the middle school science award. The obsession began early.

Pi is very special to us. He loves to play just as much as he loves a good snuggle on your lap. He’s super vocal, can do amazing flips, and he lets us take him outside on a leash. I mean, how many cats are cool with that?a photo of a man and a white cat

Leaving Pi behind for half a year was the single most difficult decision regarding our thru-hike. I would never have made the decision to hike unless I knew Pi would be safe and sound back home.

Thankfully, my parents were on board to take care of our feline friend for us. We take him to their house a few times a year, so he’s comfortable there and with their two Golden Retrievers. Barring the fact that his two favorite humans won’t be around for a few months, I think he would prefer to live at my parents’ anyway. There’s a ton more space, way more bird-watching going on, and we even got him a sweet cat tower to use while he’s at his “summer home.”

Anyway, you get the idea. I will cry when we leave Pi, but I fully trust my parents to take care of him and I know he will be happy hanging out on the kitchen counters and teasing the dogs… thanks, Mom and Dad!

That’s Everything. Maybe?

There’s a ton to do in the next few months, but if anything, I love the preparation leading up to a hike almost as much as the thru-hike itself.

I am absolutely counting down the days until we leave, but I know come April, I’m going to wish I had just a bit more time to prepare.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 1

  • Brandon Chase : Jan 17th

    The pressure is real! I’m definitely feeling the time crunch as well. Also, didn’t know LL Bean sponsored ultramarathons in Maine – I hope to run the 50-miler sometime!


What Do You Think?