With another week torn off the wall calendar, I find myself yet another step closer to the starting line of the Pacific Crest Trail. Things are coming together, and other things worry me at night. For right now I’m trying to stay on auto-drive, compiling the master gear sheet, taking part in a loose training program, I’ve officially joined the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA.org) and I’m patiently awaiting for my final approval on a northbound permit beginning early May in Campo, California. To add more logistic stress to the mix, the beginning of the trailhead, located in the middle of the desert, is apparently a little hard to find for your average Uber driver.
A recent article published by Outside Online, entitled “Here’s How to Start the Pacific Crest Trail”, illustrates the difficulty of not hiking 2,700 miles, but just finding the starting point for the journey. The article also touches on volunteers who help out hikers on their quest, appropriately called Trail Angels, including those blessed individuals who offer rides to the Campo, California trailhead at the beginning of each thru-hiking season. I don’t know if I’ll have to rely on the good faith of these Trail Angels at the beginning of my journey, but I can only hope to run into a few of them along my way.
The biggest part of my training for the Pacific Crest Trail and 20+ miles days is simply walking, and walking a lot. We’re talking about losing the car keys for a week and relying on my feet alone. The idea stems from an article I wrote about polar explorer John Huston (Q&A with John Huston), where he talks about training for all-day sled pulls across an arctic landscape:
“If parts of your trip are going to be boring and you’ll be hauling sleds across the snow for hours and hours of your day, your training should somehow resemble that. Your mind becomes familiar with the pace then, and how you occupy your own thoughts out there is a major part of the experience” – John Huston
With that in mind, and with the 2,600+ miles ahead of me, I’m glad to be giving my legs (and my brain) some practice for what’s up ahead:
While some portions of those walks are fairly boring, and the walks home after work are fairly draining, but every step I’ve taken has been practice in the art of mindfulness. Being aware of not just the thoughts in my head or the soreness from my knees, but trying to understand where those thoughts manifested from and where those legs are going. It’s a delicate practice, and one that is easily lost to the daily habits, but no matter the size of the hike, mindfulness can be the key to enjoying your surroundings no matter where those trekking poles are pointing.
To explore the concept more, be sure to check out this TED Talk by Judson Brewer, which discusses the natural curiosity and benefits to be found within your own head: