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City: Los Angeles
Begins: Apr 11, 2010
Date: Tue, Oct 19th, 2010
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Pacific Crest Trail Map
I guess I'm writing for a few basic reasons. Primarily as a way to preserve my experience in memory. I didn't take pictures. Secondly, as a window into a PCT hike which may serve those who want to learn what to do and what not to do or possibly those who want to have the experience without leaving their living room. Lastly, those who are interested in me, although I don't think there's that many of you out there.
As you probably don't know me, my basic info _ 45, male, married, no kids. I've been interested in long distance hiking since at least being 20 primarily for the romance of it. As such, my goal was not so much to hike the whole thing but to walk continuously north, not give up and feel good. I figured so much for the romance if I'm suffering from pain and discomfort. I also thought that this goal would keep me on the trail. If I didn't feel good then I'd be motivated to make it so and if I did then I would want to keep going as well.
So much for philosophizing. The actual planning began sometime in January, 2010. I remember taking the bus from Cali to Popayan with Lucy, my wife, and feeling all manicky for some reason and coming up with a plan to move from Colombia our home for the past five years and going to Spain where I'd teach English and support her while she got a masters. Great plan but not practical or so it seemed. Teaching in Spain wouldn't pay so well even though education is cheap. The numbers just didn't add up. But not to despair, the pay was much better in Korea. So the plan changed from Spain to Korea. Now I had been planning to visit my family for some time so the plan changed from Korea to Korea with a layover in Los Angeles. And then, and I don't remember the exact moment it changed, it went from Korea with a layover in LA to a thru hike with Lucy. After a few more mutations the plan eventually became me starting the trail solo, Lucy joining me for a month and a half before going back to her teaching job in Colombia leaving me solo once again. This plan actually happened.
Some more preparations. I had hiked half of the AT five years ago not for lack of time but strength. In particular, my feet gave me a lot of trouble. Plantar fascitis, fallen metatarsal arch, thru hiker feet, whatever. I tried to make some changes for the better. I got my feet looked at by the Colombian medical establishment but to no avail. My shoulder had begun hurting back in Sep 2009. The doctors let me down again. Of course I didn't give them much time to patch me up. Maybe with more they would've got some results. Aside from formal medicine, I tried losing some weight. Went from 165 to 160 in two months. I'm 5'7" so I'm carrying around some excess weight. I began walking with a load on my back, everyday, working up from half an hour on the apartment stairs to three hour road walks up into the Andes which begin to rise up practically in our backyard. I took a bus to get back home - quite convenient. Still, I found my feet began to hurt bad after a couple of hours so I didn't work up to more time. This worried me considerably on account of how was I going to hike for 6 months every day on this pair of feet I possessed? I discovered that if I lay down for three hours I was good as new so this was my strategy albeit handicapped, for walking the PCT - I would just take a lot of horizontal breaks. I knew this would slow me down but it was the only solution I could think of.
I also began my gear planning, purchasing and making as well as water strategies thinking at the time that it would be hot and dry. The 2010 season was actually very wet and cold so much of the hike by the light of the moon ideas didn't happen although when it did get hot I put into practice some. On the gear, let it be known that I am a self confessed gear head. I take such pleasure in thinking up ways to solve problems. I would actually fall asleep nights running things over in my mind. I was obsessed. Still am. I remember reading somewhere during the many hours spent surfing the internet for ideas that 'you use the gear to hike, not hike to use the gear'. I got it backwards.
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