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Country: United States
Begins: Apr 30, 2016
Date: Mon, Jan 11th, 2016
Daily Distance: 3
Trip Distance: 3.0
Entry Visits: 1,476
Journal Visits: 24,078
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Guestbook Entrys: 52
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Pacific Crest Trail Map
Now that the word is out about my trip it is time to get things rolling. It has been such a heartwarming experience these last few days to hear everyone's well wishes and excitement about this adventure. I can't express enough gratitude for those who have taken the time to send their positive thoughts and comments my way. It has reinvigorated me and keeps me in a positive mindset. Before I start writing about the details of planning and then my actual trip, I wanted to take the time to answer the number one question that I have been asked and probably will be answering for the next year: "why are you doing this?".
The simple answer is that I felt a need to go for a walk. This all started about two years ago when I watched the movie "The Way" with Martin Sheen. The experience of walking for a long period of time through the great outdoors with everything I would need on my back resonated with me, however the idea of walking through towns to visit churches was not as motivating. Plus, how could I ever afford that much wine? The idea still stuck with me and I had thoughts of jet setting to Spain regardless of my apprehension. Thankfully, along came the book "A Walk In the Woods" which was much more my style. The chance to commune with nature, run from bears and meet oddball people. Further research on the Appalachian trail did not inspire; too few landscape changes and too many people. Then as most people guess, "Wild" hit all the right notes and the internet searches went deeper and deeper. The Pacific Crest Trail offers a variety of landscapes, fewer people, more scenic vistas and a chance to visit OR and WA which have been on my list for a long time. Timidly proposing the idea of hiking the trail to Matt, my wonderful boyfriend who deserves a medal in patience and understanding, he enthusiastically agreed that this would be a wonderful idea and what could he do to help. With one person on board, who might have thought that I wasn't actually going to do this (hasn't he learned a few things about me over the last year!) and the internet full of helpful information I was ready to set off on a 2600 mile backpacking trip. First things first: try out backpacking.
There wasn't enough time, money or practice to be on the trail in four months so I had the buffer of a year to loose my naive enthusiasm. Matt was more than happy to introduce me to this new world of hiking and backpacking having spent more of his college years on trails and in woods than most people spend in a lifetime. Weekend trips were planned and we embarked on enjoyable hikes on the North Country Trail that conveniently crosses right through MI. These trips were enlightening on practical issues such as food, warmth, damp, rain, feet, maps, toilet paper, and most notably: where not to pitch a tent. Nothing like reading a book about where not pitch a tent when you are in a tent in the exact spot described. I came out of each of these experiences rejuvenated in a way that a normal weekend could not match. I found myself wanting the freedom from noise, distractions, pressures and people that hiking provided. The final test was the one week solo trip to PA in August. Could I survive a week by myself and still want to do 2600 more miles?
To the relief of family, friends and co-workers, it turns out that I can in fact survive a week in the woods by myself. The trip in PA went so perfectly there was almost no way I could not want more. Not that there weren't always reasons for me to oscillate in my choice on an almost weekly basis. Poor Matt had to hear all the pros and cons ad nauseam, what a trooper. Continually there has been the concerns of how can I afford this, how does one leave their life for 6 months, how does one not get bitten by a rattlesnake, how could I stay safe in the middle of the wilderness alone, what am I going to do when I get back? The fear is real and it washes over me in waves. There are so many reasons to not do this trail and yet there are so many reasons to do this trail. It is not only the possibility of a long walk that has me saying "screw fear, this is a once in a life-time opportunity", it is the pursuit of the question that has always haunted me. Is there more?
From my research, this trip will bring me plenty of occasions to be in physical pain, mental boredom and ready to throw my shoes off a cliff. I don't know what else I am in store for but I hope that I will be different when the experience is done whether or not I make it to Canada. I hope you follow me on the journey and that you are also inspired to face your fears in life even when they do not involve rattlesnakes.
Travel is a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips never really end. -Pico Lyer