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Begins: Jun 23, 2009
Date: Mon, Jun 15th, 2009
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Just another journal...
Various forces have conspired in the last year and brought me (unwilling;) to the conclusion that a) I am not getting any younger and b) its time to start acting like it. So after back surgery I have sold the tri bike and made a vow to never run again. This does not mean that I am going to roll over, wave the white flag and sit on the couch for the rest of my life. It just means that I have to retool and start thinking a little more long term. But I know myself well enough to understand that I need a carrot in order to maintain some sort of fitness and stoke. I spend eight months a year working at sea and without a goal, it is difficult to wake early and hit the gym or the yoga mat. My endurance training days may be over but I figure you can walk and swim pretty much all the way until you're pushing up the daisies.
I don't have a lot of hiking experience but the PCT has always appealed to me. My great uncle went sobo on horseback to Mexico with a few fellow scouts in 1937 and I grew up with his adventures retold countless times. This first trip is an experiment to see if I enjoy it and if so, how much do I enjoy it? Do I want to plan two weeks a year? Do I want to try and maneuver for a few months off work? Do I never want to see my freakin' backpack again?
After much hemming and hawing, I picked the section of the PCT from Castella to Ashland. Beyond being a good seasonal fit for this particular time window, it has the beauty of wilderness and isolation but also has a few jumping out points if I find my mileage estimates are off and I am in need of supplies. I want to have a challenge without being dumb. I've been on a few weekend hikes before but don't pretend to have much experience beyond what I've read in the various books and resources on the net. I do have the hidden ace of being used to and preparing for life at sea both on ships and a few ocean crossings in sailboats. I've read and reread Jardine's book. I understand the need to be prepared while not turning into a walking satellite REI store. I'll have a cell phone that will be off except in town and I'll have a digital camera. Beyond that, no GPS, no SPOT, no iPod. But as a licensed mariner who is supposed to be able to figure out how to get a ship safely to and from the ports of the world, it would be kind of embarrassing to get lost, even more so if I had to admit it to anyone. So I am going a little heavy on ch..., ahem, maps (thanks pctmap.net!).
As I am going on this hike in part to get away from the electronic trappings of every day life, this journal could turn out to be a dismal failure. I plan to keep an old fashioned pen and paper log and then transcribe electronically at a later date. I like my electronic gizmos as much as the next person but also understand the heavy toll they exact as we march in step with the masses, tuned into our iPods, blithely texting away about the latest episode of 24 while we are oblivious to the world streaming past. An ironic statement from a guy who pays his mortgage laying communication cables across the ocean but life is irony.
So do I go romantically to the trailhead with some sort of half assed, late thirties version of Into the Wild playing in my head to occupy me for two weeks? Absolutely. I am forever chasing the next adventure. But I've chased enough of these crazy ideas to understand the bittersweet difference between The Dream as vision and reality. And this is why I keep chasing them. Eventually maybe I'll figure out the balance that leads one to the conclusion that life is the adventure and there is no real need to seek anything else out. Fortunately I haven't figured that out yet. Life without adventure is boring and seems like a waste of time. Backing down from adventure because of perceived risks is also boring and seems like a waste of our time on this planet (Earth BTW, because you never know...)
Uhhhhh this was supposed to be a simple entry in order to validate my opening of a journal. Apparently I digress but thats not unusual for me when I'm in the throws of another "great idea."
So all systems are go. Plane tickets for pdx in hand. Greyhound ticket for Castella booked. Tent to arrive at Dad's later this week....vhwoooops busted! Yeah, yeah I know. I'm going to be "that guy" on the trail screwing around with his tent for an hour and a half. But c'mon cut me some slack, I carted my alcohol stove setup to the bbq area of our complex a couple of times to do timed tests of fuel burned/water boiled. I took my new pack with me to sea for the last three months. I suffered the inevitable "what mountain are you climbing today" comments from my shipmates each lunch hour when I set off on my "training hike" carrying leaky ziplocs of water around and around and around the outside decks and ladders of the ship. So the tent sort of turned into that one detail that didn't exactly come together as planned. I reckon I'll be doing some set up drills in my dad's backyard this weekend 8^)
In a nutshell this could be a "one and done" journal or it could be the start of another great adventure... I'm rooting for the latter :)
An old shipmate of mine wrote this and it watches over all the past, present and future adventures that are stowed in my garage...
There is a race of men that don’ fit in,
A race that can’t stay still,
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will,
They range the oceans and they rove the floods,
And they sail the waves and crests,
Theirs is the curse of the seaman’s blood,
And they don’t know how to rest,
If they just went straight they might go far,
They are strong and brave and true,
But they are always tired of the things that are,
And they seek the strange and new.
AirWreck's Trail Journal
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org
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