Another season of the PCT is upon us and over the past few months I have received a few emails with questions about my preparation and experiences. So I’ll share a few things that I have learned during my trek, in order to, assist those who have not yet departed or who are working toward that future expedition.
While on the trail I joined the cult of secret knowledge. I dove into the depths of my psyche and into the dark corners of my consciousness partly to entertain myself, to solve problems, to keep myself walking and to basically survive.
It was interesting to explore the limits to which I would push myself, both physically and mentally. It was also fascinating to see the shear ingenuity of myself and my fellow hikers who were forced to solve problems on the trail – patching this and that, finding multiple purposes for simple objects and discovering how to persevere when others quit.
So with that said, here is a little what I learned:
- No matter your base weight, you’re over-packed. You will at least be refining your pack for the first few hundred miles. You will plan from resupply to resupply what you’ll next leave in a hiker box… you’ll obsess over it, you’ll remove non-functional parts from electronics and tools… and sometimes not because you’re pack is too heavy, no, at first it will be to reduce weight but once you become accustom to the weight you’ll still continue to cut weight just for fun, it’ll become a game – just to see if you can get by on less and less and how creative you can be with the things you have.
- Your feet will hurt…. your body will hurt… at some point… for a little bit or a while… I got blisters, lost multiple toe nails, was bruised here and there, got cut and scratched but it was part of the experience.
- You will dive deep inside your head. You will think of things you haven’t thought about for years, long lost friends, family and exes, decisions, opportunities and what ifs… sometimes it’s amusing, sometimes it’s troubling.
- Scary things live in the woods… actually they live inside your head but you’ll convince yourself they are lurking out in the dark. I had a few frightening nights out there alone but in the morning I’d felt pretty silly.
- You’ll have a love hate relationship with other hikers. It’s great to chew the fat but it’s also great to fall into the peace of a deafening silence.
- You’ll grow sick of granola bars and hot sticks… what? Never! However, it’s a sad truth.
- You’ll become a master of transportation – of all forms. Planes, Trains and Automobiles…plus buses, bikes and boats.
- You’ll get lazier and lazier by the day, not in the regard to hiking, you’ll hike farther and farther each day but you’ll get lazier in regard to setting up camp, cooking and hygiene… what’s all that crap? A waste of time? Yes.
- Trail gossip will be your news. Who is where, the water availability, campsites and what good eats are up the trail. If there is a good bakery or a buffet within a 100 miles every NOBO and SOBO will be swapping stories about it.
- You’ll fall in love with the fresh air, the blue sky, the open spaces, the sunrises and sunsets, the trail comradery and the freedom of a simpler life. When you return to your “normal” existence you’ll realize how much you miss the rain in your face stinging your eyes, the steep mountain grades, the freezing nights, the snow obscuring your path, the blisters on your feet, clothes that just won’t dry, the pack that’s just too heavy and the flirting loneliness and fatigue.
Good luck class of 2016!