What it’s Taken to Make This Thru Hike a Reality (aka: How I Put My Life On Hold For Six Months)
Okay, so I’m one of the lucky ones that actually secured a permit (Woohoo!). Now the real planning beings.
It’s really exciting to finally tell people about this adventure I am going on. When people hear about my goal to thru hike the Pacific Crest Trail, a lot of the time, I get a response that is something along the lines of “I admire your ability to make such a big life change and pursue your dream”. Initially, I thought about this comment as an easy choice for me; I wanted to do something and so I am. But then, I’ve taken a step back and looked at how many things I have had to do to make this dream a reality.
I’ve outlined some of those things that come to mind in this post. In looking back, I believe that seeing the amount of effort I have put in to attempt this goal will be motivation for me to go as far as I can and hopefully complete it!
What was “easier” (I am using this loosely since it all still took a good bit of effort):
Some things came more naturally for me, like picking out gear and testing it or learning about the new environments, plants, animals, and weather patterns I would be hiking through. I liked these things because they allowed me to a) do something I enjoyed (hike) and b) learn about new places; this appealed to the Environmental Scientist in me.
I also found getting in shape for the trail both physically and mentally more attainable. I’m a fairly active person in my day to day life and am fortunate to have a boyfriend who loves going to the gym with me (and being my impromptu trainer), so ramping up that side came relatively easily. Additionally, since I have been wanting to do this for a number of years, I have also been working on my mental game a lot. I have learned to “embrace the suck” at times and seen that when faced with adversity, I can be resilient.
Another “easier” (but still tough and scary) task was ending my lease and putting all of my things in storage. While ending the lease and getting the storage unit were relatively easy, actually packing and moving my stuff was much more of a challenge (I hate packing). It was a big step that physically showed this dream was becoming a reality. However, a silver lining to this task was that it gave me the opportunity to shed a lot of material things I realized I didn’t need.
Lastly, have I mentioned how much I love my mom yet? She has been one of my number one supporters for this journey and graciously accepted to be my home-base person to help send me resupplies of food, gear, clothes, etc. as I need them during this hike. Without her support this would be a whole lot tougher.
What was harder:
A lot of aspects of making this thru hike a reality were hard. One of the hardest being that I had to quit my job. That was a bittersweet moment for me. I really enjoyed the people I worked with and saying goodbye to them was difficult. It’s also terrifying to hear that “inflation in our country is higher than it’s been in four decades”, and people are worried “we might go into another recession”. Hearing news lines like this after quitting my job scared me. It even made me question my decision at times. Will this dream make me go broke? This was something that weighed heavily on me, and I knew when I decided long ago that I wanted to do this hike, I would have to face that one day. That’s why I’ve saved aggressively to protect myself financially and have been working with a close family friend to get my career back on track once I return.
As silly as it might sound, arranging how my boyfriend and I would be getting to the trailhead was something that gave me a bit of anxiety as well. I knew we would figure it out and it would be fine. But I think what was feeding that anxiety was another very physical reminder that this thing was actually happening. It’s also pretty intimidating to book a flight across the country with no real plans at the time on where you’ll be sleeping that night and only having what you can carry on your back. (Update: We have since figured out where we will be sleeping the night before we start, so this fear has gotten a little smaller. Thanks Scout and Frodo!)
What was just a headache:
Figuring out my car and health insurances while I’m gone was annoying to say the least. Dealing with insurance is never fun… On the plus side, I found out that I can downgrade my car insurance to be very affordable while I am hiking since I won’t be driving my car. This way I don’t have to cancel my insurance, surrender my plates, and pay the fees to reestablish these things once I am back. I also have a very helpful and supportive family who is letting me store my car with them during this endeavor. Further, through numerous informative articles, blog posts, and podcasts on the subject, I was able to identify some fairly reasonable health insurance options for me while I hike.
Looking back I can’t help but think ignorance is bliss. However, I know that all of the work I have put into this will be well worth it for the memories and life experiences I will gain from this hike! For now, there are only a couple more things to do before I find myself at the southern terminus in a few days. Stay tuned for the adventure!
Lesson I’ve learned while prepping for the hike:
Getting a storage unit isn’t as hard as I thought it would be!
Weird food craving I got:
Homemade white chicken chili that I won’t get to have for 5-6 months while hiking (good thing it’s more of a winter food I suppose).
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