WHY am I even doing this?
I do not know my why.
It seems so many people know exactly why they are attempting the Pacific Crest Trail– or any long trail for that matter. For me it seems the reason changes everyday. “Wow! You’re crazy! Why do you want to do something like that?!” I respond for the thousandth time to the same question that everyone asks: I love backpacking and it’s a bucket list item I want to check off before going back to school. Simple enough answer, but I keep thinking it lacks substance, a driving force to keep me going when the trail inevitably sucks. I am hoping to the thru-hike god that when I will have to embrace the suck I will be gifted the grand epiphany of exactly why I am attempting this seemingly psychotic goal.
Is it in my gear?
I think at first I was searching for my why in all the gear prep over the last two years of planning. I lay out all my gear. Check it off on a list. Pack it all in my pack. I unpack it immediately, lay out all the gear neatly on the tile floor, check it off a list again, repack. For one more good measure I unpack and pack again. Maybe the why is somewhere in the strategically picked ultra-light gear I have bought. Do I have everything? I hope so because I will be starting an unfamiliar, yet familiar trail in two weeks. Alas the search for why in the gear could be futile. My super comfortable, dyneema backpack holds everything I’ll need for the 4.5 month journey and it may not be the mental inspiration I need to keep me going; however, it will be what keeps me alive.
Is it in the fear?
I was thinking the why is maybe in the thrill of the journey. The excitement. The Pacific Crest Trail, however, now has me terrified. Doubt races through my mind each day. Questions like “do I want to do this?” “will I succeed?” “Am i doing this just to look cool?” plague my brain on a daiIy basis. Bailing out last minute is out of the question though— I’ve told too many people about it. Poor judgment on my part. That fear, however, has become fuel for the months ahead. Maybe fear of failing could be my why as it seems to hold more substance to keep me going in moments of doubt.
Is it in the beer?
Maybe the why is in the physical? I spent the last 8 months putting in long hours to up my physical limits. Countless hours of running, lifting weights, cycling, practice hikes, and beach workouts. This will probably be the hardest physical test I have ever and will ever attempt and there is so much room for injury, dooming any chance of completing this trail. That sense of accomplishment is what always motivated me when I was a competitive swimmer so maybe it’ll keep me going during the grueling months of hiking. Competitive spirit is as good as anything to keep someone going especially when I know each town could be overflowing with beer. The liquid calories after a long distance run or swim was always the ice cold treat I needed to satiate my accomplished self. Maybe the sense of accomplishment and the beer that comes with it will keep me going during the grueling miles of trail.
Is it anywhere?
I think in reality I don’t have a grand “why”. I think it’s more complex than a singular reason. The doubt is a good thing. My fearful ego is simply trying to convince me that I have cold feet, but what makes a life worth living is doing what makes your ego scared shitless. The gear is my life source. It’s what will literally help keep me alive the entirety of the trek. The why may not be in the gear itself, but it will definitely help in sustaining the journey. The sheer physical feat will be difficult in its own right, but that’s known. I have hiked and backpacked plenty of times and it was always a challenge. So what the fuck is my why? I hope to find all the reasons I decided to hike this amazing trail on the trail itself.
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