You’re Not JUST a Section-Hiker

This past May, I was practically jogging the 7 miles downhill to reach the first river we’d come across in our 5 day section-hike. I was giddy at the prospect of taking a river shower and relaxing by the river to dry off in the warm sun. We hadn’t seen another person since we left Burney Falls, CA four days earlier. We emerged onto a forest service road a few hundred yards above the river and a group approached in fishing waders with fly poles and nets. “Have you seen anyone down there?” a woman said loudly. 

“You’re the first people we’ve seen in 4 days!” I jested back. 

“We lost track of our fishing guide,” said the woman. 

I told them we were headed down to the river and if we saw anyone we could let them know. Just as I finished, a tall, lean 30-something man approached with a casual gait and said something to the group. “I can help them track the guide down,” he said, apparently a guide for a group somewhere upstream. “You guys PCT hikers?” he asked. 

“No, we’re JUST section-hikers,” I replied. 

After exchanging some pleasantries, we headed down to the river for our much awaited showers. 

My husband asked, “Why do you always conditionalize it when people ask if you’re hiking the PCT?” I thought about it, realizing that I do always insert the word ‘just’ or feel the need to qualify that, while we’re hiking on the PCT, we aren’t PCT Hikers. “They probably don’t really care. Plus we’re out here, challenging ourselves, doing hard shit too,” he finished. 

Conceptually, I know that it doesn’t really matter whether you’re a through-hiker/thru-hiker, section-hiker, LASHer (long-ass section-hiker), or whatever. As long as folks are out there, pushing their limits, enjoying the beautiful trail and having a good time — they’re PCT hikers.

The moment amplified for me the importance of not forgetting to give yourself credit for the challenging things you do. Whether you’re section-hiking or feel like your pace isn’t as fast as others, you’re doing something awesome that you set your mind to.  For one, I’m making a commitment to myself to stop feeling like such an imposter out there and embrace being a PCT hiker…rather than just anything. 

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