What I Will Do Differently Next Time

I have now attempted to hike the PCT twice this year, but they say the third time is a charm. For my third attempt, I’ve decided to do things differently. I’ve been contemplating what it was about my experiences that made me give up. After a lot of analysis and self-reflection, I came up with some things I can to do differently next time in order to conquer my fear and have a successful hike.

1) Lighten My Load

I learned that the only way to figure out what you really need/want is to carry it, mile after mile, day after day. It’s the only way to truly understand what it means to carry all of those items you think you must have. Well, I definitely learned some things in my 320km of hiking. I was about 97% happy with the gear I carried, but I know that it was still too heavy, and so here are some of the things I’m going to change:

Trade my MSR Carbon Reflex 2 for a Z-Packs Duplex

I don’t know why I shied away from using a tent that uses hiking poles to set it up. It turned out I was using my poles to brace my tent in strong winds anyway. So, I’m all for it now and the Duplex gives me the space I want in a 2-person tent and is almost a pound lighter.

Trade my Aluminum water bottle for a plastic one

I like my aluminum bottle for mixing shakes and hydrator in, but of course, I can do that in a plastic bottle just as well. So, I give. Plastic water bottles are lighter, and they come in 1L sizes where my bottle is only 750ml.

Go with a lighter backpack

I love my Osprey Viva 65, but it’s still almost 4lbs. I’ve since found many other lighter options that I think would work. Specifically, I’m eyeballing the Gossamer Gear Mariposa. Knowing how I pack, the Mariposa seems to have all the features I need. It doesn’t have a brain, but it does have a zippered pocket on top for small stuff. Plus, it would save me 1.8 lbs!

Other items on the chopping block

My UV water purifier

Small miscellaneous items

Pants with removable legs vs hiking skirt and pants

2) Be Better Prepared Mentally

Creating better habits

Since I’ve been off trail, I’ve made a commitment to working on habits that will help me get back on the trail. These habits include meditation, yoga, and hiking every day even when ‘I don’t feel like it’ (I use that excuse A LOT). Even something as simple as not checking the time during my hour-long meditation builds a muscle of continuing on when I really want to stop. Yoga and hiking keep my body in shape, and doing these things, when I least feel like it, will hopefully help keep me going on the trail when I want to stop.

Having a strategy to combat the fear

I realized that when the fear came up, I had no plan in place for how to manage it, so in the end it managed me. With that in mind, I created a list of practical things I can physically do to distract from the fear or at least keep going in spite of it (I’m fairly certain some, if not all, of these are in Pacific Crest Trials).

Things I can do before giving in to fear

Stop, take my pack off, and sit.

Take a break. Take my shoes off, eat, meditate, and/or read.

Have a conversation with someone.

Read my list of inspirational quotes.

Sing my favourite songs at the top of my lungs.

Take another step, and another, and another.

What I will NOT do:

Call or text my husband.

3) More Hiking

One thing I learned on the trail was that the only way to prepare for day after day of mile after mile of hiking is to do it, and to do it on varied terrain. This time, I’m preparing by hiking at least 15km every day and trying to do it on trail, no roads (see What I Learned on My Longest Hike Yet). I’m well aware that even 15km a day isn’t enough, but I would like to start at 16km (10 miles) a day or more, not work up to it like last time.

Getting back on trail

Even with all that’s happened, I’m not ready to give up. I really want to conquer this fear and enjoy the experience of hiking the PCT. I know I have the ability to succeed, after all, I did manage to hike 320km and survive. My fellow PCT hikers, who I continue to follow on blogs and Instagram, keep me inspired, and helped me see that everyone really does have to hike their own hike. I’ve already learned so much from the trail and even from all of the self reflection I’ve done since leaving it. I know I’m already in a better position to succeed on the next attempt, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later.

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Comments 2

  • Avatar
    Katy : Jun 27th

    Is that a yoga mat on your pack and did you take it on the trail? I took a Lole I Glow travel mat on the TMB last year – thin and not so durable, but we were staying in hostels every night so I could spread it out on an actual floor. Worked well for that trip, but I’m not sure how it’d go on a PCT thru hike…

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Annette : Jun 29th

      Hi Katy, yes it’s a yoga mat, no I didn’t take it on the trail. The pictures are from my training hikes where I hike for a few hours until yoga class. I do yoga at the studio, and then hike home. It’s great for weight during training, but it’s definitely too heavy to take on the trail. I’m going to do yoga the best I can with the foam pad I carry on the PCT.

      Reply

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