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Kevin "Bushwhacker" Cook
Begins: Apr 24, 2011
Date: Fri, Jan 7th, 2011
Entry Visits: 2,291
Journal Visits: 22,127
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Guestbook Entrys: 35
Time to start my journal
I setup this journal back in November, but never used it. I think it's finally time to start putting my thoughts down on this virtual paper.
My employer doesn't know I've decided to hike the PCT yet, so my hike has not yet been made public. I've shared my plans with a few trusted co-workers and have discussed it on a few online forums, but for the most part, I've had to contain my excitement about the most important in event in my life! It's been difficult to not talk about the PCT to anyone and everyone. It's been even tougher to not mention it on sites like Facebook. I brought up this dilemma on the pct-l. There were several others there that were in the same position. We have decided, most of us for months now, to thru hike in 2011, but we have not told our employers. Someone on the list suggested creating a journal, but leave out any personally identifying information. I've finally decided to start posting here to help vent off some of my pent up enthusiasm! If these early entries seem a bit "off", it's probably due to my attempt at remaining anonymous. ;)
So where do I start? I suppose I might as well get the obligatory post about what and why out of the way...
Begining in April of 2011, I'll be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. The official name is the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, but everyone refers to it as just the PCT. It runs from the border of Mexico into Canada passing through California, Oregon and Washington states. The trail is ~2650 miles long, but when you add in extra miles hiking into towns for supplies and such, I will hike well over 2700 miles. If you are interested in the trail, I encourage you to visit pcta.org and become a member!
How long will it take? Most thru hikers take about 140 days to hike the entire length of the trail. I'm planning to be on the trail for 5 months. This will include days spent off the trail, in towns, to resupply, shower, laundry, etc. These are called zero days because you make no actual progress on the trail. I'm hoping to minimize my zeros by camping close to resupply locations, hiking in early, and moving on in the afternoon. If I take a rest day, I'd rather spend it in some idyllic location in the wilderness than surrounded by the noise and smells of cars and town.
Why would I want to do this? That's a much tougher question to answer. Sometimes I think, "if you have to ask, I can't explain it". That being said, I'll try to explain anyway. My reasons for wanting to hike the PCT are mostly driven by my dissatisfaction with the state of modern society. Edward Abbey is one of my favorite writers, and sums up much of my motivation with the quote, "The indoor life is the next best thing to premature burial." If you’ve seen the movie Office Space, the main character, Peter, also sums it up well, "man was not meant to sit in cubicles and stare at computer screens all day." Man has created an environment for ourselves that is detached and separate from the natural world. We see many stories about man’s battle against nature rather than our attempts to live in harmony with it. I'm happiest in places with little evidence of man's impact. As a result, backpacking has been my favorite activity for most of my life. I’m filled with a sense of freedom whenever I hoist my pack onto my back. Knowing that I have everything I need to survive is a wonderfully liberating feeling. The thought of spending each day walking with the simple goal of heading north, sounds extremely appealing.
Many people think a thru hike is like a long vacation. While the experience will be one I enjoy, it is also a lot of hard work. If one heads into thru hike thinking it’s easy, they will be in for a rude awakening. I’ve always enjoyed the physical aspect of backpacking as well. Maybe it’s ego, but knowing that I’m accomplishing something that most people can’t, or won’t, provides tremendous personal satisfaction. When I can feel my legs burning as I climb that hill, I also know I’ll be rewarded with a view when I reach the top. No matter how much I enjoy backpacking though, it is a lot of work to carry 35+ of food and gear along a trail.
There is also a lot of effort satisfying the logistical requirements of hiking 2600 miles. While my planning began dozens of years ago, I’ve been very busy the last few months preparing for this hike. I will make upwards of 30 resupplies along the way. At most of them, I will be mailing myself some of my food or other supplies. There are countless decisions to be made such as where to resupply, how much food will I need between each resupply, how much of that food am I mailing versus buying in town, what shoes will I wear in which sections, how many pairs will I need, how warm of a sleeping bag do I need or can I use a quilt, how much fuel will I need for cooking, should I take a tent or a tarp, where will I need to make gear changes for areas with snow, rain, mosquitoes, etc, where do I get my hiking permit, my permit to enter Canada, a passport, what about medications. It goes on and on. It can get pretty daunting! Most hikers are actually relieved when they finally get to the trailhead. These last 100 days are going to be pretty stressful!
Well that’s enough for this post. In future pre-hike posts I’ll talk about my plans for food and resupplies, what gear I’m taking, and more about my thoughts about the hike. Thanks for visiting and reading my journal. I hope you enjoy following along with me on the biggest adventure of my life!
A Short Walk Of 2665 Miles.
"The indoor life is the next best thing to premature burial." ~Edward Abbey
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