WHY I’m Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail
Hello and Welcome back!
I recently had an encounter at work that I would like to share. I recently completed my last day of work in anticipation of my thru-hike of the PCT this year. A couple of weeks prior to this day I was speaking with a colleague that I work with every so often who for some reason had no idea I was leaving work and heading out on this hike. Shocking since this is something I have non-stop talked about for over the last year (I’m like many others). We decided to catch up over lunch one day and I was speaking to her as if she already knew. She was caught off guard by this news. At first, she was shocked by the fact that I was leaving so soon after only starting this job about 5.5 months ago following me just saying, “My last day here is coming up.” Then she asked, “Why?” and I replied, “To hike about 2,653 miles from Mexico to Canada.” she again asked, “Why would you want to do that?” I laughed and gave a short answer, “I have dreamt of it and finally have the opportunity in life to do it.”
This was not the first conversation with someone that developed in this way with the important question looming over me constantly why would I want to do this?
Hiking is a Sport!
I have always been an athlete and enjoyed being active. I started playing softball when I was five years old and since then my love of sports erupted. I quickly started playing at more competitive levels of the sport. Throughout middle and high school I played as many other sports as I could from basketball, soccer, running track and cross country, and volleyball, and even took a racquet to a tennis ball for a season (it was not my most skillful sport but I gave it a try). It was devastating when I suffered an injury during the Summer before my junior year of high school while playing basketball. Not any injury, but one that would take me out of the entire next season of basketball and softball. I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in my left knee. Junior year is a crucial time for an athlete especially a softball player with any hope of playing at the college level. My junior year of high school was also extremely special because the varsity softball team had a great chance at making it to the state championships; a feat never before seen in school history. I worked hard at rehabilitation after undergoing surgery for my knee injury. I luckily was able to be cleared exactly 8 months later after surgery to return to playing softball in the district championship. We did in fact make it to the state championship final game and although we came up short for the win it was the best year of my softball career thus far. We made it the school history and I was able to be a part of it.
That year, that injury and that experience challenged my mind and body like never before. I went on to continue playing softball amongst other sports but realized it would come to end and it was not my dream to play professional softball. It was the best thing and the worst thing to happen up to that point in life. Reality set in and the realization of life after sports began. I have never lost my love of sports but this went on to be transformed later in high school and college. I suffered two more torn ACLs leading to two more surgeries and long periods of recovery leading to lots of in-depth thinking of “what comes next?”. One during my senior year and one in college due to playing college softball. I had a successful softball career, but again the realization that the impending end of playing competitive softball was closer than I was ready to admit. I was generally someone who was always busy and had many interests apart from softball, but for so long it took up so much space in my daily life. I continued playing up until my senior year but the almost took my entire sopore year off due to injury and this is when hiking and backpacking came to be the sport of choice throughout recovery. I was unable to play traditional sports but enjoyed just being outside. I started working that same year at the campus recreation center and so my access and connection to outdoor recreation became my way of staying active and feeling like I was a part of sport, but in a new way. I began to work, go to school, and apart of that I would spend every ounce of my time outside and hiking became my new sport that I just couldn’t get enough of. It also became a way to slowly rehabilitate my knee through recovery and once I was able to walk again I was ready to hike. Although it was not the traditional sport of playing on a sports team, competing in individual competitions, I soon learned that there was “challenges” and ways to compete amongst the sport of hiking and that was through thru-hiking and other challenges within this new found community of athletes. Many do it casually, but others still find ways to make hiking it’s own sport and I loved it.
Here I am today, ready to continue being the athlete I always been ready to challenge myself in the sport that took hold of my life in college. I learned the mental and physical benefits of hiking during rehab and the impacts it has had on my life since have been remarkable. We all have our own “Why” of embarking on a journey like this and I have come to the conclusion that it is a combination of hiking pushing those boundaries, the sense of community in a team essence, nature and it’s many benefits for overall health, etc. Therefore, it will always be a different answer depending on the day for me and for each person I am sure to meet. Maybe I am a bit crazy for this but I am sure I will be amongst a bunch of other crazy like-minded peeps who just are out there to hike and see what happens. At least it will be for the adventure of it all. This may change as I go and the answer may end being more defined, but for now this is all a part of my background of WHY.
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Nice write up, I must say. So I decided to subscribe.
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