It’s Time

Christmas 2022 is over and now it’s the week between Christmas and New Years Day. A time of year that is the beginning of the return to normalcy. It’s at this time, that I decided I should tell the world, that I will attempt to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2024. Yes, that is still quite a ways off, but I wanted to share this because I will also attempt to share the road that I must take to even make this PCT attempt.

You see, I’m in my early 40’s, a husband and father. A mortgage and pets. Responsibilities. I’m not supposed to put my life on pause at this stage because of the responsibilities, right? Right.

Tell that to the enormous, roaring fire of desire burning within my soul. It wasn’t always this way; in fact it wasn’t even a spark in 2016. I had completely forgotten about backpacking, camping and general outdoor activities that I grew up with, loved and spent a great deal of time doing. I was born into a family that loved camping, and not just my immediate family but extended family as well. That then became me joining the boy scouts which I was in for a significant period of time, up until my mid-teens. But that is a story for another post.

In November of 2023 I will be applying for a PCT long distance permit! I wouldn’t say that I’m in denial, but I’m not letting myself get excited. It isn’t real just yet and I have realized that the road to the Pacific Crest Trail rests on four pillars.

The Four Pillars

  • Employer
  • Family
  • Finances
  • Health

They are pillars because if any of them fail, then the hike is canceled. They are all equal in importance, so order doesn’t matter.

Pillar: Employer

In November of 2022 I spoke with my manager, explaining that I wanted to do the PCT in 100 days, and if it was possible to take that much time off. The immediate answer was yes! Specifics will be worked out over the next year, especially after I secure the permit. Holy shit, November of 2023 I’ll be getting a permit!

Pillar: Family

This is by far the trickiest pillar, and will have the largest impact. This is where selfishness comes into play, and taking on the guilt of sauntering through the mountains, forests and deserts for myself while leaving my wife and young daughter at home. As all parents know, parenting is hard, and it’s even harder for those who do it on their own. My hat is off to all single parents!

In addition to the guilt of leaving my wife behind to care for our daughter by herself, this will also be the biggest mental challenge by far that I’ll need to overcome while on the trail. Those days when it’s completely shitty, will just make going home even more desirable.

My hope is to leave them with enough money so that Melanie can get a babysitter when needed, get take out when needed, and come see me, at least once for our wedding anniversary.

Pillar: Finances

There isn’t much to say here, other than every scrap of extra money is sent to the PCT fund. As someone who is mid-career with the mortgage, family and pet responsibilities, the amount that I’ll need to raise JUST to be on the trail is far larger than most people. Simply because people in my stage of life aren’t out on the trail. Or they had significant life changes which allowed them to get rid of their responsibilities, at least for the 5-6 months that a typical thru hike takes.

For costs, I will have at home bills, money for the family, and then money that I’ll need when on the PCT. From the date of this writing (Dec 26, 2022) I have 16 more months to save.

Pillar: Health

In general this pillar encompasses all aspects of health, however my main focus is:

  1. Fitness
  2. Foot Care

Fitness; because I need to strengthen my body to handle 30+ miles per day on day 1.
Foot Care; because my feet tend to blister. I won’t be able to do 30+ miles per day even if I’m fit if blisters cause so much pain that I cannot continue walking.

I’ll be solo

So I’ll also be starting this solo. In the fall of 2021, Mat and I went on an endurance challenge where we hiked 29 miles in one day. On that hike I expressed to Mat what I wanted to do, and he was immediately in with doing this with me.

However in 2022 after completing Sleeping Giants, Mat expressed that he didn’t want to actually do the PCT as a thru-hike. He wants to go slower and enjoy his time spent.