Each Day Brings New Strength and Wonderment
The phrase “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” does not even begin to apply for a thru-hike; it should really be “It’s an ultra, not a marathon.” In a marathon, with minimal training and enough grit, you can make it to the finish line (but it might not be pretty). An ultra is different. Months of preparation are required and every mile is thought out through fueling, hydration, and pacing. The PCT is very similar. Planning food and water are daily necessities, and self-care is the key to success.
As the miles tick by, I am blown away by the distance I have traveled on my own two feet. With each day, I am growing stronger and transforming into a hiking machine. Despite the high energy and motivation, I need to remind myself to start slow. The last thing I want is to go out too hard and pay for it later on. I feel like a racehorse being held back by its jockey.
The PCT is truly a special trail. From the moment I walked into a trail angel’s house the night before setting out, I was welcomed into this incredible community of adventure seekers. There are people from all walks of life on this trail with the same goal: walking to Canada. Standing at the border of Mexico is daunting, though, knowing that there are 2,650 miles to travel to reach this goal. Despite the unease, there is also a sense of exhilaration in knowing that there is one hell of an adventure waiting to take shape on this trail.
The amount of support and compassion I have witnessed on this trail is unreal. Scout and Frodo are two trail angels living in San Diego and they specialize in getting thru-hikers to the border. These people open their home to dozens of hikers at a time, prepare meals, provide advice and information about the trail, and ultimately transport everyone that comes through their door to the trail. All of this for nothing in return. Another example of this was on day two after 20 miles of hiking. I finally arrived in camp just around six and some of the people I was walking with were chatting with a man. Shortly after joining the conversation, this man invited us to his campsite for beer and hot dogs. On day five, there was a 24 mile dry stretch of trail, but someone left cases and cases of water jugs at a junction in the trail. These are just several of the times I experienced trail magic and it’s only been six days. The support has been overwhelming and I am truly thankful for these small gestures.
As I lie in the shade of an oak tree, surrounded by fellow thru-hikers, I can’t help but feel grateful. Life is simple, but challenging, along the trail. Things that I took for granted — like sleeping in a bed and binge-watching Netflix– don’t seem important anymore. The fact that I have yet to set up my tent and stare up at the sky full of stars each night is truly incredible. On the trail, I am once again becoming one with nature. Here, I am free.
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