The Pacific Crest Trail, Why?
I have always enjoyed the outdoors, being independent, self reliant, and adventurous. At about the age of 5 my father put me, and my brother, in the Indian Guides program. This was an exciting program where we were taught how to start fires, work with knives, and camp in the outdoors. This appealed to my sense of independence, and the ensuing fantasies of a child, that I could make it on my own, living in the wilderness without any need for modern society. Yep, just like Thoreau’s Walden. Now that was a good read!
Then came the Boy Scouts of America. I became an Eagle Scout while in high school. I learned many skills and became even more self confident while in the wilderness. Part of this experience was camping and hiking at the Philmont High Adventure scout ranch in New Mexico. Living out of a backpack for days on end, hiking through the mountains with your buddies. Good stuff.
I first read about the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) while doing library research, (yes, before the internet) for a trip to Philmont. I knew about the Appalachian Trail, however, had no idea a similar trail existed on the West Coast. Being born in Oregon, and with plenty of family still there, I felt my roots calling to me. I was intrigued, however knew the logistics for such an adventure would be daunting, and decided to shelve the idea for a better time, maybe after college... Then came life’s responsibilities!
Two years ago I realized that my PCT dream had gotten thirty five years old. Wow, that went by fast! And while life has been fun and exciting, it has also been tough. I knew that when I did retire I would need a good break to clear my mind. Enter the PCT! Although a couple of thoughts came immediately to mind: Would my body hold up to that type of abuse, 2,600 plus miles with a backpack won’t be easy. Also, what is my wife going to think?
I asked my wife for her thoughts, and to my surprise she said she wanted to join me on the hike. Wow, this was a fantastic development, we have always enjoyed the outdoors together but this would take it to a whole new level. Then came the question of our physical status. Although we are both what I would consider good shape for our ages, neither of us are in our prime. What are the chances, two fifty somethings could actually complete the PCT together? Neither of us was sure. So began the training. For over a year now we have been getting up early on weekend mornings and putting in 10 mile hikes to strengthen our bodies. No backpacks, just water. While we have definitely had plenty of aches and pains, thankfully we’ve found nothing seriously debilitating.
In November of 2017, we decided 2018 would be our year. We put our applications into the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) for thru hike permits and gave notice to our jobs. This was it, after many years of schedules and responsibilities, we are going to be free, to “hike our hike”.
We left our house in the Florida Keys in February 2018 and have begun a slow, enjoyable, and adventurous drive, to the start of our Pacific Crest Trail thru hike in Campo, California on March 19, 2018. Along the route we will be visiting friends and family, and practice hiking as much as possible, to prepare for our start date. How far will we make it on the PCT? We don’t know, but the journey has begun, and it’s an exciting one!