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Begins: May 21, 2011
Date: Fri, Jan 13th, 2012
Trip Distance: 2,683.9
Entry Visits: 8,216
Journal Visits: 233,698
Guestbook Views: 9,573
Guestbook Entrys: 133
Final Closing Thoughts
All good things have to come to an end and that applies to my journal. This entry has taken me months to pull together though the output may not seem to justify the time. This is going to focus on my post hike transition.
It took me a solid three months to get healed (almost) completely from my hike. My feet took a long time to get pain free and I also have all feeling back in my toes. The one remaining problem is my shoulders. They still are a bit gimpy but I will give them a few more months to improve.
I started in Campo at my ideal body weight of 187lb. Over the course of the hike I dropped down to 174. I knew that weight comes on quickly post hike and I greatly improved my diet in anticipation of the weight gain. But in spite of my best efforts I still gained 20 lbs. mostly due to lack of physical activity, especially when compared to my hike and prehike training. But now the weight has stabilized and actually starting to drop.
I have my next crusade planned. In April a group will be running the Grand Canyon, Rim to Rim to Rim in a day, a total of about 45 miles. So now that I’m healed I’m back doing much of the same training as I did prior to my PCT hike. It feels good to have a mission.
Would I do it again?
I am often asked if I would hike the PCT again and if I did, would I do another fast hike. I would love to do the PCT again and have little doubt that I will back on the trail again. As far as the fast hike question…. If I was given a five or six month window for a hike this upcoming year I would actually attempt to yo-yo the trail at the same speed as I did it this year with a few less zeros. I enjoyed the physical challenge of pushing myself to the limit. I am actually thankful that 2011 was a tough year because it made the challenge and the satisfaction that much greater.
What do I miss the most?
Now that I have been back in civilization for four months I miss the simple lifestyle of the Trail. In contrast with the 10,000 images, sounds etc that compete for my attention, the Trail in its simplicity allowed my mind to slow down and connect with the natural surroundings. While I may have been dirty, tired, sore, hungry, cold or wet, it is precisely those feelings that made me feel alive. And then there are the remarkable moments like looking up at the night sky while cowboy camping and seeing satellites or shooting stars or listening to the bugling of elk in the night air. Those moments can turn the darkest days into very special events.
But the hardest transition back to society has been the adjustment to the consumerism especially around the holidays. It has been shocking. So many of us work in jobs we don’t like to buy goods we don’t need. We fill up our houses until they can hold no more then rent storage bins to hold the extra crap. Finally, we pay to have it removed thus completing the cycle.
I also have a whole new perspective on status symbols. Whether it is the foreign car or 5000 square foot house or clothing with some fancy symbol, it is everywhere. People go out of their way to say “they are a success!” But why the need to declare it to the world, who are they trying to convince? Themselves? In contrast, thru-hikers carry everything they need to live on their backs. My most expensive piece of gear was my hi-tech cuben fiber tarp. It is so cool that it should have a BMW silkscreened on both sides. But were other hikers impressed with my fancy gear? No, because only one other hiker ever saw it and that was the two nights that I set it up in Wa and Or. And he wasn’t too impressed since he had one as well. Possessions were not status symbols on the Trail, I’m not sure there were any. By not living in the false cocoon you can actually get to know people better without having to get through the shell of image. I miss this aspect of the Trail as well.
My hike was so different from what I expected in many ways. I couldn’t read journals or books and get a true understanding of the feeling that I experienced on the Trail. I can definitely see how younger hikers could get hooked on this lifestyle and hike year after year. It becomes infinitely more difficult as you get older with more responsibilities. But thankfully further along as the responsibilities wane a new window of opportunity will open for me. But as this chapter comes to end, another will open. But this book will remain on the shelf ready to be reread at a later time.
Good luck to all the future hikers. I hope many of you have found something useful in this journal. My hope is that at least one person reads this journal and it becomes an enabler to live a dream.
Malto's PCT Adventure
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
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