I heard about it most officially from a wildland firefighter I had been dating, back in October of '14. He said, "...and I was working on the Pacific Crest Trail," in a kind of mystical tone. A small ding went off in my brain. I had this strange vision that it was near the coast for some reason, I suppose I was confusing the word "crest".
A few months went by and while looking over a map of Indian Heaven Wilderness, I saw this bold endless looking red scar across it: Pacific Crest Trail 2000. Ding.
My friend Lacey was planning a visit back in April, she wanted to do some nature exploring, but didn't have a clue what she wanted to go do or see out here. So, I ran a few ideas in my head... and thought of that movie everyone was talking about a while back. The one with the shoe on the cover, part of it was filmed here in Portland, had that girlwhatshername from Legally Blond play the character. I suggested to Lacey to watch it to get an idea of what we have out here, as some of it was filmed in Oregon and showed some scenic views of our state. I had to google what the name of it was... and then I realized, oh. It's about a woman who hikes the PCT. What is this trail anyway? Commence googling.
The memory of brain dings and feelings surfaced. So this is what it is: 2660 miles from Mexico to Canada, along the chain of mountains through California, Oregon and Washington. Pilgrims from all over the US and world come to hike it in sections and even in its entirety. Most northbound, some south bound on a journey that takes on average, about 5 months to complete. I discovered the trail blogs of people accounting each day of their struggle for water, intense hunger, storms, chewed up feet, giving up, mountain lions, hypothermia, heat stroke... a whole strange subculture of these people called thru-hikers. I wanted that life.
I decided, that I was going to become a thru-hiker. I was going to do it. This made me happy in that same way, when I was just 12 years old with a plan to run away to to smoky mountains. There was that embracing of my child-self that I do my very best not to loose. We loose it so easily in these times.
That was early '15, when I had decided. Desire waxed, waned, eclipsed. Am I ready to give up my (relatively speaking) affordable Portland rent, in my pretty damn nice apartment that I magic-ed my ass into? What about my business? What about Tucker? Do I really want to displace myself like this? Become homeless for 6-8 months? What about afterwards? What about the threat of depression that will inevitably set in after I am done? Is it worth stirring up my life for this desire?
Always I came back to: Yes.
The stars, the dirt, the trees, the crossroads. The hunger that will chew at me. The relentless sun burning me. The feeling I know I'll get walking into familiar territory, seeing old plant friends and mountains. Knowing there won't be some great epiphany at the end. Knowing I'll hate it at times. Knowing I will love it. Knowing I will be scared shitless and knowing I will be humbled by vastness and beauty, the kind that there are no words for.
So, now it's 2016. Instead of saying, “PCT in 2017...” I get to say, “PCT, next year.”
It is now even more of a reality. Now I can buy data books that will be slightly more relevant to nerd over. Now I can start gear testing and collecting. I have to start saving money and reorienting my business and job to work well without me for part of spring and summer.
Have I ever backpacked before? Nope.
Is this crazy? Maybe. Lots of people do it with no prior experience. Thankfully an ADD mind provides you with a what seems like a contradictory ability: hyper focus (usually only on things we are fascinated by). So I have been adsorbing like a sponge, everything. Stove vs. no stove, tarp vs. tent, resupply strategy, food choices, shoes, foot care, hiking gait, sleeping bag, socks, treking poles, ultralight everything. All the things. Reading all the stories. All the books. All the info.
I know that no matter how much I meticulously prepare, I will not be fully prepared for it.
So, that's that. My deceleration of doing.