Why Am I Thru-Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail?

Why am I voluntarily deciding to live a transient life on the trail for 2,650 -ish miles and nearly 5 months? Deciding to leave the safety and security of a job and home and bed and friends and family?!

How it All Started

The seed was planted years ago while hiking down a trail that was unknowingly part of the PCT. I rolled around the corner at Lake Valhalla near Steven’s Pass and started talking with a couple scraggly looking backpackers. I was surprised since this lake was only a few miles from the trailhead. They were talking about leap-frogging fellow thru-hikers and the wet weather that late September was bringing. Then it dawned on me that these people had come from Mexico on their journey down the PCT. I was told that it was “the trip of a lifetime” and that “You should do it if you ever get the chance.” I had always thought the PCT was out of reach. Too afraid to leave the comforts and the familiar routine of everyday life.


A little over a year ago it was months after separating from my long term partner and selling the house we bought together. Looking for some meaning to the rest of my life, which seemed could go in any direction. I decided to pull the plug on the familiar and comfortable to hike the PCT. Luckily I had time to prepare myself for the abrupt transition of life on the trail, and little did I know COVID would mentally prepare me for the social distancing.


At first the allure of the trail was the beauty of the outdoors, but after a shakedown trip through the Goat Rocks last labor day I realized it was so much more than just being in nature. It was the disconnect. Life’s worries seemed to melt away on the trail. The stress and worries of the familiar routine flew out the door, although it was quickly replaced by the stress of the trail.


Back to Why

I’m hiking the Pacific Crest Trail because I do believe it is the trip of a lifetime, and this is probably the best time to take the time and resources needed to hike and live on the trail. Those are somewhat superficial reasons alone, though. I am really doing this to disconnect from the familiar and attempt to find the simple beauty of life. Part of the trail will be a test to see if I can manage the smaller nitty gritty details of thru-hiking. Hopefully more of the trail will be the immense Awe of the trail.

This is a huge undertaking, though, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and means to attempt this hike. Not everyone is able to take such a leap of faith. It could not be done without the support of my friends and family.  I truly wish that everyone has the opportunity to commit to something just as big and important in their lives.

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Comments 4

  • Antony : Mar 18th

    Good luck. I hope to do the same next year

    • Jacob Barstow : Apr 4th

      Thank you! Good luck to your planning and prepping for the thru-hike!

  • Jim Childs : Mar 26th

    My son, Will, is preparing to hike the PCT this year as well. He will be flying down to San Diego on the 14th I believe. Maybe you guys will run into each other!

    • Jacob Barstow : Apr 4th

      Nice! I’ll keep an eye out. It’ll be good to meet everyone on the trail.


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