In April 2018 I begin my solo trek of thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. What this means is I’ll be setting foot on the trail at the southern terminus in Campo, Calif., at the Mexican border and hiking 2,663 miles through California, Oregon, and Washington, past the northern terminus and into Manning Park, British Columbia. You heard right – 2,663 miles. This thru-hike will take me roughly five months to complete, so as you can imagine, a significant amount of research and planning is involved. I’ve committed to temporarily leaving my current routine behind to experience a simpler way of life.
Why would I do such a thing?
I’ll be walking 8 to 12 hours per day as if it’s my job while carrying everything I could possibly need on my back, including one week’s worth of food at a time. My bedroom will be downsized to a two-person tent, not to mention an ultralight inflatable pillow that could be considered a luxury item. My feet will ache daily and blisters will become my best friends. Daily water will be enjoyed only after filtering. A shower, clean clothes, and fresh food will be a weekly to biweekly extravagance. Not to mention that getting to these things will require additional work by walking or hitching a ride into town.
The simple answer – I love nature.
I have a passion for the outdoors and the beauty and simplicity it has to offer. I’ve read countless books about hiking, mountaineering, and climbing. But the tipping point for me was reading first-person accounts of thru-hikers setting out to complete such a large feat. Vicariously living through them, I could sympathize with the pain and suffering, but also the joy and sense of accomplishment they felt throughout their journey. Every person completing one of these long trails would have the same response in the end – It was worth every moment. How can you argue with that? Sure, hiking long distances is not for everyone, which is why only a quarter of the people who begin a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail complete the entire length. Suffice it to say, the odds are against me.
I want to experience a life outdoors.
I look forward to both the beautiful and ugly sides to the story. I want to know what it’s like to fall asleep under the stars and wake up with a view of nature for months on end, even if I struggle with getting out of my sleeping bag each morning in the cold air. I want to feel my legs grow stronger with every step, regardless of the condition my feet are in. I can imagine hiking through a pass feeling exhausted and discouraged, only to be completely overtaken with awe and appreciation by the breathtaking view in front of me. I crave to be a part of the supportive thru-hiker community that I continue to read about. I want to stumble upon trail magic to feel like it’s the best moment of my life. I hope to meet the selfless and dedicated trail angels who make the journeys of thru-hikers that much more enjoyable. I desire to experience a simpler way of life and look forward to using a map and my own two feet to reach my goals.
This journey is certainly going to test my mental and physical strength, but I say bring it on!
This article originally appeared on The Trek, which you can read here.