Why PCT?

Now we have an official Facebook group, most of our gear, and about 850 miles of resupply boxes packed.  It's getting real, and it's about time to start doing some posting about our preparations for the Pacific Crest Trail.  For the sake of continuity, I'm going to do my posting here rather than starting a new dedicated blog for the trip.

If you're the kind of person who likes details, or are planning your own trip, I'll try to eventually throw up some of the logistical basics here.  Right now I have a rough Resupply Strategy outlined if you are interested in checking that out.  I'll probably eventually put up an obligatory gear list, and will make a spreadsheet with the contents of our resupply boxes available as well - if only because I'm putting it together anyway, and I haven't been able to find such a resource online, and I personally think it would be helpful in the initial stages of planning.

But I'm not particularly detail oriented, so in general I'll probably be more likely to tell stories and offer reflections here than to give useful data.  With that...

How'd we get here?

Hiking the PCT, for us, will involve quitting two jobs that we like, leaving a city that we like, renting out a co-op unit that we like, and uprooting a generally happy existence.  We don't have any heroin habits to kick, failed marriages to flee from, or dead mothers to mourn.  We don't have any particularly pressing personal crises that need sorted out, and it's not a traditionally opportune time to uproot and go on a pilgrimage/spirit quest/journey of discovery.

Really what our trip is about is living before we die.
As a couple, we've done some crazy crap in our day, and our decisions to have big adventures have typically occurred according to a formula:  We sit down for a meal, Angel suggests something crazy, I think about it for a second, and say something along the lines of "We could probably figure out how to do that." (Angel has a million crazy ideas, and would almost definitely have a much more exciting life if I wasn't around to poopoo most of them.  It's the few that make it through what we could call my poopoo filter that end up happening.)

About a year and a half ago we were sitting at dinner in Anacortes on the way back from Canada, and the restaurant happened to have a deal where you could get free entry to a movie at the local movie theater with a meal.  We wanted a meal anyway, and we had time to kill, so we ended up spending an hour or so having drinks and killing time before that evening's showing of The Hunger Games started. 

The topic of conversation turned to finances (which is to say, possibilities). About 7 years prior, Angel and I had started putting away a chunk of money each month on top of our normal retirement, savings, etc., with the thought that by the time we hit 34 or 35, we would probably either be having kids, looking to purchase a bigger place to live, or both.  We talked about both kids and a new place, and we realized that we (still) didn't want to do either. But we did want to have a grand adventure.

Angel had previously brought up the idea of hiking the John Muir Trail, a 210 mile section of spectacular trail in the High Sierra of California.  At that point, we were already planning a three week trip to New Zealand in April, and the prospect of being able to get another big chunk of time off from work in 2014 seemed unlikely.  Somehow, in the course of conversation about finances, the idea of getting around limited vacation time by quitting our jobs came up, and by the end of our second beer we had decided that we would begin planning for a year off, during which we would hike the PCT (why just do the JMT when you can walk the whole way from Mexico to Canada?), start learning Spanish, and travel in South America - spending as little money as we could, and potentially doing some travel nursing to supplement an otherwise non-existent income.

Sometimes after a few beers you talk about those sorts of things and don't mean it, but in that case it turns out that we both did.  As the year progressed, we started to firm up our commitment to the plan, and eventually Angel made it real by telling both of her employers that she was leaving.  I'd floated the idea to my boss shortly after I started as a nurse (one of the questions my boss asks in all of her check-ins is "Is there anything that would make you quit?"), and I also made it official with her in November.  In mid-April, we'll both leave our jobs and head out for the first part of our planned trip - the PCT.

Why PCT?

Thru-hiking itself is a logical progression from what we've done in the past - spending a ton of time on the trails through ultra running, backpacking, and hiking/running the the Camino. After running a 100 miler, I think a lot of trail runners have a bit of a crisis trying to figure out what's next.  We did our first in 2013 at Cascade Crest, and thru-hiking feels like a logical next big challenge - in some ways more of the same (long distance on trail by foot), but it's also a step into the unknown (months of time living outdoors and carrying a lot of weight).

The PCT specifically was a logical trail choice because it's our local trail.  If we really wanted to, it would be relatively easy to walk out of our front door, head a few miles up Snoqualmie Pass on the Iron Horse Trail, catch the PCT and head South all the way to Mexico.  It's more appealing (if a bit more logistically challenging) than the Appalachian Trail, and not as daunting as the Continental Divide Trail.  It's cheaper and easier logistically than anything international, and it's a suitably epic endeavor to justify uprooting a good life to tackle.  Before Wild came out, it also still had somewhat of an underground spirit to it, with only a couple hundred people completing it every year.

And in general it all feels like a big mystery.  We did the Camino, but we've never really lived outside for more than a few days at a time.  We've done up to 100 miles in one push, but we've never done more than 20 miles in a day with a heavy pack on. We've gone backpacking, but never for longer than about a week in a stretch.  It's a big mystery.  A big, exciting mystery.


Unknown said…
Adventure defined. Love y'all.
What's money for if you don't spend it, right?