As I am writing this, Jean and I are sitting on a plane from Seattle to Tucson to begin our PCT adventure. We’ve said our goodbyes, took care of all of our last minute business, packed our bags, and made our way to the airport (thanks Ziad!). When we pulled up at the curb, I felt a mixture of anticipation, excitement, and not an insignificant fear wash over me – the day had arrived. I was left contemplating a question that I feel like I had gotten pretty used to answering over the last few months – why are we doing this?
Honestly… I just really like walking. I love every walk I get, no matter where it may be – I generally walk a few miles to work every day, I do every errand I can on foot, and just about at the top of my list of “my idea of a good time” has to be a good long walk in the mountains. Seattle is an awesome place to indulge this love, and over the past few years its really become a part of who I am.
Hiking is also something that Jean and I share a passion for – something that we really bond over – and I’m excited to spend this time with her doing something that we both love and in which we will both push our limits – and do it together.
I’ve never done anything quite like this before – the longest I’ve ever been out is 3 days and 30 miles or so – but the idea of it is something that has appealed to me for at least 10 years. I’m really looking forward to getting out, pushing myself further than I’ve gone before, spending some serious quality time with Jean, and having some good time to enjoy a long walk.
Physically speaking this is a pretty intimidating trek. Walking 15 or 20 miles a day, every day (give or take) for three months is not to be taken lightly. I know there will be a lot of… let’s say “discomfort” involved, and I am hoping against all hope that my body stands up to the challenge. That said, when we’ve been out on our training hikes, I’ve felt good – strong, and on our really good days I even think I felt a little bit ready… although in writing that I feel like I’m taunting the PCT gods a little bit.
So why hike the PCT? This is a question people have asked us and I’ve asked myself a few times. I’ll admit that when the idea to hike came to me, I didn’t really have an answer – it wasn’t really a logical thought so much as a feeling. It feels right. I want to do it. It should be fun, challenging, and adventurous. I like to hike. I have wanderlust. A lot of people have hiked the PCT and seem to have enjoyed it, so why not us? I did a little deep digging and really thought about “why?”. This is what I’ve come up with.
A lot of people say they want to hike a long trail. I’ve been thinking and saying this for years. It was time to put my money where my mouth was. Life is short.
I’ve wanted to hike a long trail (either the Appalachian Trail (AT) or PCT) for a few years now. I grew up with the AT in my backyard and a hiker hostel across the street, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, so long-distance hikers and long trails have always been in my field of vision. I come from “list people/list hikers” (you know who you are Nancy and Charlie). I hiked the NH 4k-footers – a list of 48 peaks over 4,000 feet elevation) – and after that, everyone asks “what’s next?”. I started on the Long Trail in Vermont, where I accepted the truth: I like long-distance multi-day slogs more than peak-bagging by day. I love the mountains. And this hike is possible for me because I’m jobless. I quit my job a few months ago and have all the time in the world. Until I need to get a job again.
Some aspects of the PCT that I’m looking forward to: trail beauty, trail culture, a sense of community and comeradery with other hikers, being surrounded by like minded people, exercise and activity in nature, natural beauty, landscapes, scenery, moving constantly with a sense of purpose and direction, the rugged and exposed mountains of the west, the journey, possible soul-searching and the off chance of a life changing experience or two. A few aspects that I’m intimidated by but still looking forward to: the challenge, hiking day in and day out for 3 months, eating the same food for 3 months, high mountain passes in the Sierra, a heavy pack that could weigh up to 60 lbs, and Jared and I wanting to kill each other for the last clif bar,