Thru-Hiking the PCT is Like Childbirth
A friend of mine recently shared why hiking the PCT is like childbirth, and I can totally relate!
As a member of the class of 2023, we are having a large number of obstacles thrown our way and it seems as soon as we “overcome” one obstacle, another is thrown our way.
I’m referring, of course, to the more than unusual amounts of snow in northern California and Oregan this year, which made parts of the Sierra Nevada and other sections either impassable or extremely difficult to navigate.
Now we are faced with wildfires in the Washington and Northern California sections that are causing some highways and various sections of the trail to be closed.
As if hiking the PCT wasn’t already hard enough, we now have all these extra logistics to consider.
My hiking partner and I were discussing this at length, and she described hiking the trail as giving birth. I looked at her quizzically for a moment, so she explained, “Well, its excruciatingly painful while you’re going through it, but come the end of the day or the top of the climb, or end of a section, you really appreciate the reward and forget all the pain, ready to do it all again!
I speak from experience, as I have two children and can totally relate.
After my first child was born, which proved to be a rather difficult experience with some complications, I swore “Never again!” But after a few years of pure joy from my little girl, I was so ready to do it all again.
Thru-hiking the PCT has proven to be just this. At least one or two times a day I vow to quit the trail as I’m hating every hard climb and every painstakingly treacherous mile. It is never without challenges, but the reward at the end of the day or end of the section is so great that it erases all of those negative thoughts, and I am rearing to go again.
My hike will soon come to an end as I am now less than 300 miles from the Canadian border. And as the miles remaining decrease, I am also faced with a sense of sadness that this will no longer be my daily routine in a few weeks.
I feel comforted in knowing that my perseverance for completion will prove rewarding in the end.
We recently hiked a short section through the Goat Rocks Wilderness that included a very difficult two-mile stretch on top of a ridge with sheer drops on either side. I was quite terrified and near the end of the climb described it as the worst section on the PCT.
In retrospect, this was one of the most rewarding parts of the trail. Not to mention the fact that it had the most spectacular views. I felt like I was literally on top of the world.
Would I do it again? Most likely no, but did it help me overcome my fear of heights? Also no, but was it an incredible experience to look back on and appreciate that I was fortunate enough to live it and have this opportunity, yes absolutely!
And I would encourage anyone who has a desire to hike the entire trail or parts of it, to do it. I promise you that it comes with many hardships and it will test your endurance, but it will be so rewarding.
We might be coming to the end of the way the PCT is hiked (in a continuous foot path) and will have to adjust to section hiking in the future. I don’t know. But knowing what I do know, I would not hesitate to do it all again!
As Henry David Thoreau said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
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