At a month and a half away from my departure on the Pacific Crest Trail, a day doesn’t go by where my thoughts don’t lead me down the trail already. It comes up in conversation also, probably a little too much for people I talk to often, and I find myself continuously saying to friends and strangers alike, “in May, I will be attempting to thru-hike the PCT.”
It made sense to me, to use those words, because there is a truth to them. I have applied and received my hiking permit, purchased my plane ticket, and have been slowly amassing the latest and lightest gear (within my budget). I even sold my car this week. So yeah, I will be attempting to thru-hike the PCT. What I didn’t realize when I used these words, that perhaps I was letting my nerves and fears take a bit too much control before the trail even started, but hey, there are a few good reasons to be nervous.
For example, this article from Outside Online entitled “Our Reliance on Technology Makes the Backcountry More Dangerous”, points out that with the ease of cellphone reception and GPS signals, it can be tempting to rely on a battery-powered technology that isn’t always reliable itself. (A good reminder for myself considering I’ll be bringing along a Garmin GPS64)
Or another another one from Outside Online, with the eye-catching headline “Murder on the Appalachian Trail” tells a gruesome 1990 tale of violence that reverberated throughout every hut on the trail and beyond. (Side note: check out the list of Deaths on the PCT). With a few of these things in my mind, including the idea alone of 2,700 miles on my legs and knees, it’s been easy to talk about my attempt of the PCT.
But as a friend pointed out to me when I mentioned my nervousness about the trail, in the sport of boxing he said, if you are nervous about your next bout, it probably means you haven’t trained enough. While there are obvious differences between a boxing match and 6-month hike through the woods, it hit me at that moment, my nerves were getting the best of me (and maybe I need to train a little more).
I’ve been getting out though, don’t get me wrong, and my main form of training thus far has simply been putting on my pack and walking a lot. Just check out the latest pre-trip poster highlighting some of the fun I’ve been having:
What I’ve slowly been beginning to realize is that by using the words “attempting to thru-hike”, I was setting myself up for just that, an attempt, and not what I originally set out to do, to experience the entire hike and all its mountains and valleys. I believe that beyond the physical demands of the Pacific Crest Trail, the mental strain could weigh on me the most, but coupled with the endorphins from hiking everyday (i.e Hiking Makes You Happier), starting today (well, yesterday) I am now changing the way I think, changing the way I say things, and in May of this year I will be completing a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (did you catch the difference?)
Quintessential Inspiring Quote on a Nature Background: