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Begins: Apr 27, 2015
Date: Thu, Apr 23rd, 2015
Start: Left Holden Village, WA on 4/19
End: Arrived in Los Angeles, CA on 4/23
Entry Visits: 1,276
Journal Visits: 3,397
Guestbook Views: 154
Guestbook Entrys: 6
Pacific Crest Trail Map
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Winter hiking at Holden
Some people really get into the PCT trip planning itself; I am not one of those people. Planning involves projecting oneself into the future, and the reality is that I tend to exist firmly in the present. The present will be a very good place to be when I hit the trail, but until that moment when I feel the dirt of the PCT under my feet, I will continue this struggle to piece together the hundreds of details that go into a PCT thru-hike.
You might ask what those details are. What all should one do in preparation to spend 5 months on the move through the wildest areas of this country? I've been trying to figure that one out, and I've discovered that it mainly depends on who you ask. Answers range from "just get out your door" to "purchase all your food, organize it into a strict calorie regiment, and mail food boxes to carefully selected resupply points." It's easy to feel underprepared when the prevailing wisdom on the popular blogs is the latter. I was fortunate to have ready access all winter to a two-time PCT thru-hiker, Meredith "Skinny D" Ishida, who assured me that I could plan this thing in a week if I wanted to; my effort should simply depend on how much I enjoy the act of planning. Which I don't, so I aim to strive just high of "underprepared."
As underprepared as I feel, my plans have successfully gotten me to my current pit stop in L.A., 173 miles from the Mexican border. I'm closing in. Four days ago Sunday, I left Holden Village, my home of the past 6 months. Located in a remote valley in the North Cascades of Washington, the village was an ideal place to prepare for the PCT in some regards. I had easy access to some of the most premier hiking in the country. I got out most weekends, strapping on snowshoes to traverse snowy passes or encounter frozen waterfalls. That area of the North Cascades is one of the most stunning places the PCT passes, so I got to experience some of its best parts first.
Apart from its proximity to capital N Nature, the village could be a very challenging place to prepare for a thru hike. Its remoteness cut me off from many of those things we take for granted: phone service, reliable internet, mobility. I couldn't simply walk out my door and drive to an REI to check out gear, nor could I head to a grocery store to stock up on Clif Bars. And besides, I didn't want to be doing those future-oriented tasks when there were so darn many fun people living at Holden to talk to and hike with.
So when I left last Sunday, I left with several paper scraps scrawled with lists of loose ends to be tied up: "free up space on iPhone, buy first round of trail food, figure out health insurance, etc." As I bounce from city to city on my way down to the Mexican border, this to-do list has loomed over every moment of stillness. The last few hours of my bus ride to L.A. have been spent deducing the best insurance plan for the trail. Health insurance, woof. Last thing I want to be thinking about right now. I'm currently feeling a mixture of frustration and nausea after the bus ride, from the phone conversations ruling out one plan or another and my scattered online navigation of this health care world that I don't understand. Since my travels started on Sunday, I've spent a night or two in all these amazing cities - Portland, San Francisco, L.A. - but haven't had much opportunity to explore them. The last few days have felt less like travel and more like a business trip (not that I've ever done one of those).
Enough grumbling. Thank you to all those who hosted me or assisted me in my travels or just hung out with me as I make my way to the border. Max Jennings, for the initial ride to Portland; Emily and Jeff Kerssen-Griep, for a bed and breakfast experience; Ben Schieber and Kirsten Mathisen, for rides and warm hugs and rooftop patios bathed in the McMinnville sunset; Rich and Carol Schieber, for a bed 6-8 times bigger than the pad I'll sleep on for months; Kate Schieber, for sharing lunch and toddler pictures of Ben; Jon and Jamie Larson, for sharing San Francisco with me again and being a spectacularly generous cousin and cousin-in-law; Vinh Bui and Donny Harder, for old friendships and late-night conversation over ice cream sundaes; Biz Thorsen, in advance for hosting me tonight in L.A.; and Emily Wenger, for embarking on this PCT journey with me.
Emily and I will meet up tomorrow in San Diego and head to a county park near the border for the weekend, along with hundreds of other thru-hikers and supporters attending the PCT kickoff event called ADZPCTKO. Information, food, and fun are anticipated. Our hike begins this Monday the 27th, with two feet straddling the Mexican border at Campo, CA.