Just over a year ago, I sat down with all of my nerves, anxiety, and excitement and scribbled out my reasons for setting out on my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. I had very little idea what I was getting into, and even coming up with the reasons why I was heading out for a 2,189 mile hike was difficult. The AT, in many inexplicable ways, called to me. Now, the return to nature is loudly yelling in my ear, and the Pacific Crest Trail awaits.
It’s looking like our start date for the PCT will be sometime in the first week of May. Unlike many hikers and our formal selves, we haven’t picked out and pined over a specific date. Why? Well, life is sometimes spontaneous, and we recently received a job offer too good to pass up. We intended to begin the PCT April 18, but now, it looks like we will be spending the entire month of April working catering for the one of the country’s largest music festivals conveniently located in southern California, Coachella. Nice.
So, why after bruises, blisters, rain, hail, Lyme Disease, Achilles Tendinitis, sunburn, and the mental monotony of walking every day would I want to put myself through all of that again? Why am I hiking the Pacific Crest Trail?
1. To see even more of this incredibly beautiful and diverse country. Outside of being long footpaths, the AT and the PCT actually have very little in common. While I will always have a very special place in my heart for the Appalachian Trail, I did grow somewhat tired of the monotony of the “green tunnel.” On the AT, you are always in the woods with occasional mountain views and bald spots. The PCT, however, boasts stunning views most of the time and traverses contrasting landscapes from the desert of southern California to the High Sierra to old growth forests to the Cascades. Sunrises, sunsets, and constellations will not be an occasional luxury to witness at the “perfect spot” as they were on the AT. The United States is a natural treasure and playground. I’m nothing but blessed to be travelling through these contrasting environments on foot.
2. To get away from a society I don’t feel like I belong to. After experiencing the joys of “trail culture,” it is truly difficult to adjust back into what people call “real life.” Things that just don’t work for me: racism, bigotry, consumerist culture, not recycling, single use cups, food waste, society’s lack of empathy, taking advantage of people, throwing your flipping cigarette butts on the ground. UGH! And even mentioning some of these things makes people upset and defensive. Whatever. I’ll run back to the woods now.
3. I adore the challenge almost as much as the reward. You never would have heard me say that over the summer while I was hiking, but damn do I love climbing mountains. And, to me, there is just nothing else like it. The pride you get from a job well done, the joy of the views from the mountaintop, the endorphin rush from the rough workout, knowing that you pushed through when you had so little left to give…
4. To live outside again. Even though my emotions sometimes corresponded with the sour weather (sorry, Sean), living outside is a beyond words experience, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to be surrounded by the beauty of nature 100% of the time once more. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I felt so at home among the trees, the sky, the rocks, the mountains.
5. Because. I. Can. Physically, emotionally, financially, mentally – I can walk 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. And you better believe, I will.