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Bruce "Bookworm" Edwards
City: Takoma Park
Begins: Apr 21, 2011
Date: Tue, Jan 8th, 2013
Trip Distance: 2,688.5
Entry Visits: 3,416
Journal Visits: 116,291
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Guestbook Entrys: 77
Pacific Crest Trail Map
For many long distance hikers, the transition back to "town life" is in many ways more difficult than preparing for the trek. This certainly proved to be true for me. In fact, it was so difficult that I kept putting off writing this entry for more than a year. I feel like I've changed in so many ways as a result of this trek. Since so many people have asked me about this aspect of the trip, I'll try to summarize my feelings and conclusions in another FAQ entry.
Q1: So how was the trek? Did you enjoy it?
A1: This trek was the most awesome experience I've ever had. I learned a lot about myself and pushed well beyond what I thought were my limits. And yes, I really did enjoy the trek.
Q2: What did you learn about yourself?
A2: For one, that I really love a good challenge. I'm a "type B" personality most of the time, but out on the trail I often exhibit "type A" traits. Another thing I learned was that even though I prefer to hike alone, I really enjoyed having a hiking partner at times.
Q3: Have you kept in touch with any of your erstwhile hiking partners?
A3: Yes, I've kept in touch with some of the people I hiked with or met on the PCT. I went back to California for the ADZPCTKO kickoff party last April, which was great fun even though I'm not really a party animal. I also joined the Facebook group for the PCT 2011 class of thru hikers. It's great to keep in touch in these ways, but it's not the same as being out on the trail!
Q4: Do you miss being out on the PCT?
A4: Absolutely. I heard about a lot of hikers out there for the 2012 season, and it was really hard to listen to all of that from home. I want to be out on the trail again!
Q5: Did you get back to the PCT at all in 2012?
A5: Yes, I did. last August I spent 5 days hiking on the PCT from Echo Lake to Ebbetts Pass and back. This was an absolutely wonderful trip, but it was over in seemly no time at all. This trip also officially completed the PCT for me, as I came up 29 miles short in 2011.
Q6: How did it feel to officially complete the trail?
A6: Pretty anti-climatic actually. I still think of myself as a 2011 thru hiker, but it was great to make it official.
Q7: So how hard was it to go back to ordinary town life?
A7: Wow, it was really tough. It's painful to go back to "ordinary" when you've lived an extraordinary life for six months.
Q8: What was the hardest part of the transition?
A8: The biggest surprise was trying to figure out what to do each day.
Q9: What do you mean?
A9: Out on the trail I didn't have to think or plan much - I just kept walking until I started running out of daylight, and then I found a place to camp. Once I was back home, I had to make decisions all the time of what to do next. I wasn't used to that, and I found it very disconcerting.
Q10: Was it hard going back to your old job?
A10: It actually wasn't too hard, as my work colleagues were very supportive, and of course they wanted to hear all about my adventures.
Q11: Do you have any plans for another long trek?
A11: I'm very interested in hiking the Continental Divide Trail, which at 2800+ miles is even longer than the PCT. However, I can't really see myself leaving home for six months at a time again. It was too hard on my wife, and I'm too close to retirement to take another big hit on my accrued pension benefits.
Q12: So what's your plan?
A12: I'm planning to hike the first 700 miles of the CDT this year, using the accrued vacation time I didn't use for the PCT trip. If I do the same each year, I'll complete the CDT in 2016, which would also complete the "Triple Crown" of hiking - all of the Applachian Trail, the PCT, and the CDT.
Q13: Wow, how many people have done that?
A13: Only a few hundred people have completed the Triple Crown. Last I heard, there was only one Triple Crowner for every 17 people who have climbed Mt. Everest, so it would be really awesome to join that club.
Q14: Here's a tough question: If you had to do the whole PCT trek again, would you change anything?
A14: I'm tempted to say no, but I suppose there are a few things I might do differently on a hypothetical "do over". I suppose I would go to ADZPCTKO, take fewer zero days, and resist go straight through without flip-flops. But really, I don't regret the choices I made. I truly did "hike my own hike", and the memories of this trek will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Q15: Do you feel like a different person now that you've completed the PCT?
A15: Yes, definitely. My whole perspective on life has changed, especially regarding hiking. For example, I find myself thinking of my plans to hike the New Mexico section of the CDT this year as a "short trek", even though it is almost 700 miles and will take at least 5 weeks to complete. I definitely wouldn't have felt that way a few years ago.
Q16: Any final words of advice for potential thru hikers?
A16: I believe anyone can do a thru hike if they really put their mind to it. A thru hike is at least 80% mental preparation. Your body will adapt if you can stick with it long enough. Just get out there and do it!
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