What the F— Did I Get Myself Into!?
I woke up to an email from the PCTA that said, “Your PCT permit is ready to print! Act now.” It is a moment that brings me to the harsh reality that I am about to simulate being homeless for 5 months while hiking 2,650 miles across 3 states from Mexico to Canada. As I scroll down on the email, I see bold green letters that say, “You leave in 3 weeks!” All I can think is what the f— did I get myself into?
How The F— Did I Get Here!?
Seriously! With just 3 weeks left before I attempt this monumental hiking experience, I have duct taped and glued a plan together. Am I even taking this seriously? Yes, because this idea became a plan of action in October of 2021. The first part of my plan was to start physical training for long-distance mileage. I decided that I would run 7 half marathons in 2022. Now these aren’t just distances that I would decide to go jogging on a Sunday morning, NO, these were official half marathon races that were organized by the Rock N’ Roll Running Series. They took place all over the country and were officially timed races. I would consistently finish with a sub 2 hour time for the 13.1 miles, the official half marathon distance. The physical training kept my mind and body strong for the half marathons every other month but also for the upcoming journey of the PCT. It is when I started to make my financial plan, that’s when my dream came to an abrupt stop.
The Great Financial Crisis of 2022
I said the most familiar words that I started to get accustomed to, “I can always do it next year.” Year after year I spoke these words into existence as if I was building a wall stacking bricks made out of regrets and failed dreams. I made a plan, then a backup plan, then another backup plan for the backup plan but it became unrealistic with too many expenses and responsibilities to overcome. Financially, I had to hit the abort button at the end of 2022. Lets face it, I am not a high school kid who just graduated and is looking to do something in their spare time before going to college. I have the expenses of a 40-year-old adult. I was in great physical shape to endure this trip but my finances could not bear the weight of such a lengthy adventure while taking care of all my current lifestyle expenses. That was it. The decision was made to shut down the PCT and place it on hold until next year.
The Resurrection of The PCT
As 2023 started and everyone was making their New Year’s resolutions, I felt that I had unfinished business. I still made a new resolution omitting the PCT for the year and decided to reinvest the money I was saving back into my outdoor business, Lone Wolf Outdoor Adventures, to hopefully make enough profit this year to quit my 9-5. This was my new goal for 2023 since the PCT was off the table. As the year marched on, I slowly started to forget about the PCT as it faded away from my list of priorities. Then the Universe presented me with a chance to stay or to go? So in February 2023, at the time of resigning the house lease for another year with my girlfriend, I decided to leave and reboot my PCT plans. I ended my relationship and moved out but it was a sacrifice I had to make. The financial plan was going to be the hardest obstacle now, and the true test to see how bad I want this, since I only had 2 months to prepare before I leave. Well, I guess no one said it would be easy but my opportunity was right here in front of me and I was going to take it.
Making A Deal With The Financial Devil
Now it was time to make some hard decisions. I became single and moved in with my family to store all my belongings with them. I canceled everything that was unnecessary and was aware of how I spent my money. I worked to get as much cash as possible for personal and PCT expenses. My resignation letter has my last day at work the same day I leave for Campo, CA, to stay the night before starting the PCT the very next day. No days off! I made an Excel spreadsheet, since I am part nerd, to track my progress towards reaching the financial goal. As I typed in the different cells each week updating my progress, I started to realize that I was going to make this happen in the 8 week timeframe that I had. The year after year regret was slowly turning into daily deposits of possibility. I eventually scraped enough money to make sure I could do this and be able to recover when I returned back to civilization but it did not leave much leftover for the enjoyment of the trail and in fact, would be a very harsh adventure to endure. There would be limited amount of money for food and other expenses like motels or gear replacement. I wanted to stay in motels on my zero days, eat large pizzas while drinking beer, and enjoy this milestone in my life. So I did what most Americans do, I acquired a massive amount of credit. I had now made my PCT financial plan solid that was co-signed by the devil, but it would work.
So What Now!?
I don’t know. I quit my job after 17 years, put my own outdoor business on inactive status, set a budget that I hope to follow, and know that I will have to face some consequences for this decision when I return. I have no job security with finite resources but in the end, I made this decision to do this hike, whether it was a year ago or a day ago, and I am fully committed to completing it no matter what happens. I am honestly more terrified of failing than dying.
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