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Mark "SlowBro" Hurd
Begins: Apr 5, 2014
Date: Sun, Sep 21st, 2014
Trip Distance: 2,673.4
Entry Visits: 3,543
Journal Visits: 319,390
Guestbook Views: 19,680
Guestbook Entrys: 150
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Pacific Crest Trail Map
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When I decided, last November, to attempt to hike the PCT it was not with the thought that it might be transformative. Instead, I figured it might be a great adventure, that it would test my physical and mental limits, and it would be fun to do. After all I like to camp and I like to hike. This would be the perfect combination. Although I had hopes that I might make it to Canada, I knew I would be happy just to have made it through a couple of weeks. I didn't really understand the depth of commitment it would take for those couple of weeks let alone five months. Looking back I have a better appreciation for all that it took of me physically, mentally, and even spiritually. And I have a grasp of what it took for my family, and especially my wife, to let me go and do this thing.
The reasons for doing a thru-hike are as varied and many as there are thru-hikers. Often born of a need for change- a divorce, a death, addiction, loss of a job, or the end of a relationship for example. Or conceived as a romantic notion that living in the wilds for months will satisfy the craving to get back in touch with nature or even ones self. For some it is just something to do for a while or it's the material for a book or their photography business. And it may be any or all these things for others.
What they don't tell you when you decide to do this thing called the Pacific Crest Trail is that it is a hell of a lot of work. And not just the physical climbing and descending of nearly half a million feet of elevation along the trail or the sheer walking of 2,668 miles of trail and the 5 million steps that takes, but also the work of logistics, resupply, communication, scheduling, and securing water and shelter daily while out there. There is nothing to prepare you for the loneliness, drudgery, and soul crushing boredom that attends a thru-hike. The fact that you will be working 10 and 12 hour days everyday. The whip always cracking in the back of your mind that you have to do another 20 miles today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. This is not a journey to be undertaken on a whim. It is serious stuff.
On the other hand, they also don't tell you about all the surprises you will find along the trail. The animals, the sunsets, the flowers- these are pretty obvious, but also turning a corner and encountering a sudden change in terrain, or the sparkle of a lake, or the "Cheese burger" call of the mountain chickadee. They don't describe the people of all stripes that you meet and especially the kindness and generosity extended to you by strangers that gives you a new faith in the human race. And then there's trail magic! Awesome!
There is a fundamental need in all of us to be part of something bigger than ourselves. This manifests itself in such things as politics, religion, and sports. I think it also extends to the PCT. Those of us who hike it, or have helped someone hiking it, and those of us who know or even followed a blog of someone that hiked it- all bask in the accomplishment. We've pinned our hopes on the hiker and root for them to cross the finish line and when they do we celebrate. And rightfully so. There is plenty of satisfaction to go around for everybody.
So in the end I hiked from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail, but I didn't do it alone. I had lots of help and encouragement from my family, friends, acquaintances, and blog followers. My feet were on the ground, but we (all of us) did it together. Thanks to everyone for making it possible. The journey is the reward.