Why?

Maybe a better question is “Why Wouldn’t I?” I’ve loved the outdoors for decades, and there’s some je ne sais quios about the struggle and reward of reaching a destination that relatively few do. I guess that’s maybe the reason that I got into alpinism, taking on risk and copious hardships to experience something unique. How many times have I been wet and cold or out of water where it would be so much more comfortable to just stay in my sleeping bag and throw in the towel, but whether willingly or unwillingly I drug myself out and had one of those rare days that are just perfect? I understand the PCT feeds on the same dynamic. It’s a perpetual mental battle against the seemingly impossible, but somehow you can dig deep and discover unknown strength to complete something special.

On a perfect day in the middle of the Cascades after running out of water the night before.

When I was a kid, I learned about the PCT while reading a National Geographic Adventure magazine that featured all of the long-distance trails that make up the triple crown. I must have spent hours pouring over it and exploring the maps to the point that my stepfather jokingly asked me which I was going to do first. I don’t recall that at that time I even had any intention of ever actually doing any of those trails, but they were something vaguely on my radar. In the intervening years, I’ve run across the PCT a number of times. It does a good job of sticking near the crest and provides access to a number of striking mountains that I’ve climbed. Of the three trails, it’s definitely the one that appeals to me the most.  The Appalachian Trail might be more strenuous, but it strikes me as relatively boring. The CDT has a wild allure, but it might be too masochistic to “embrace the brutality” for a first time thru-hike.  The PCT, however, is familiar and runs from my childhood home to my adoptive home.

I guess it was finally in the summer of 2015 that something got under my skin to go ahead and hike the PCT. It must have been due to a video that I watched online. If it had been earlier in the year and logistically possible to complete a thru-hike, I might actually have dropped everything to embark on that adventure. But it wasn’t, and I had commitments that prevented me from doing it the following two years. For 2018, finally everything lined up, and I got a permit for my desired date despite the PCTA website being overwhelmed with traffic. I start April 27th, my gear is mostly in place, and I’ve successfully put on ten pounds in preparation. So, we’ll see how far I make it toward Canada.