Kilo & I are about to embark on our most epic adventure yet…a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. The PCT is a 2,653 mile hiking trail that (going Northbound) starts in Campo, CA (at the border of California and Mexico) and ends at Manning Provincial Park (at the border of Washington and Canada).
Telling people what we are about to do has been fun (amazing reactions). Usually, their first question is why, which I will address my why below. But we have also received a handful of additional questions like:
Are you using a mule to carry your stuff? No, we are not. We are using backpacks.
Are you bringing a gun? No, we are not. We are likely safer in the wilderness than out on the streets of Los Angeles.
What about bears? We have been trying to see a bear in the wild for years now. We have hiked in the Sierra Mountains – no bears. We have hiked in Canada’s Rocky Mountains – no bears. We have hiked in Montana’s Glacier National Park, prime bear territory – no bears. Therefore, we are not too worried about bears (and now we will see one).
Do you think you will get scurvy? Two people have asked me this. I had to Google it to figure out what the heck scurvy is. It is Vitamin C deficiency. I do not foresee scurvy being an issue. We will be sure to drink some orange juice while in town.
Where will you poop? Behind a tree. Behind a rock. Behind some bushes. I don’t know. But we will be sure to use the Leave No Trace guidelines wherever we do poop, don’t worry.
And my favorite question: What is this pilgrimage? Well, I hadn’t really thought of it as a pilgrimage, but in many ways, it is. It is a journey of dirty, smelly people who will walk a great distance, carrying everything they own on their back, in hopes of living simply, conquering fears, and overcoming both mental and physical obstacles. And there are sure to be some religious moments as we watch the sunrise and sunset from some of the highest mountains in the United States.
And now, the WHY. In the book “Pacific Crest Trials – A psychological and emotional guide to successfully thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail,” former thru-hikers advise all prospective thru-hikers to create lists that complete the following sentences before we start the trail so that we can refer to our lists when $h*t gets hard & we feel like giving up. So, here are my lists:
I am thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail because….
- I love mountains.
- I am not getting any younger.
- I believe in doing things that other people say are impossible.
- I like to do physically hard things…that is how I grow and ironically how I relax (pulls me out of my own head).
- My health: If sitting is the new smoking, I’m in trouble and need to do something about it immediately. These past 2 years I’ve done a lot of sitting…in front of a computer, on an airplane, in meetings, in traffic. I’m going to spend the next 6 months not sitting (well, most of the time). I recently learned that two of the valves in my heart are leaking (likely hereditary). While not a huge problem and more common than I realized (as I started talking to friends about it), that scared me. Don’t worry, I have the approval from my cardiologist to do this hike.
- Life is short. I never want to use the word “someday.” If I want to do something, I create plans to make it happen so that I do not have to live with regret.
- For the past 2 years I have been obsessed with the trail. I have hiked portions of it. I have read blogs written by thru-hikers. I have watched YouTube videos about gear. I have read multiple books about other people’s experiences on the trail. I have followed the PCT2017/PCT2018 hashtags on Instagram. I literally have the California section of the trail memorized. I see it in my dreams.
- If we decide to eventually move out of California, I want to see and experience every inch of the state before we go. No better way to do that than to walk it.
- My friend Angela moved to Oregon and I have not seen her new house or met her new son yet. I will walk to Angela’s house.
- My uncle, who is responsible (along with my brother) for my love of the outdoors and camping, thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and I want to make him proud.
If I give up on the Pacific Crest Trail, I will….
- Be broken. Literally. A (major) broken bone or profusely bleeding or a heart attack. Because that is the only way I’m not completing this trail.