First, I want to say you’re all truly awesome for being interested in following along on this adventure of mine ( / ours) !! THANK YOU so much for the support, the excitement, the love, the friendship, the family-ship, all the good stuff. I sure wouldn’t be where I am without it.
Second, the fact that so many people know this trip is happening and are interested in hearing what I have to say about it is kind of nerve-wracking. Oddly enough I’ve been a little bit stressed about starting this blog. But oh well, here goes nothing.
As the title of this post declares: Two days!!! In two short days we’ll be in Campo, California, staring at the southern terminus of the PCT. The desert sun beating down on us, Mexico at our backs, and Canada 2650 miles of unknown territory ahead… despite having had this trip on my mind for the past year and a half, I honestly have no idea what that moment, or any of the many many subsequent moments, is going to feel like. What a thrill.
For now, I want to accomplish two things with this blog post:
- Express at least some of my reasons for doing this trip
- Write about my ideas and hopes for this blog
Why am I doing this???
Honestly, credit goes to Emily for the idea. She pitched the idea during one of the many long runs we went on together our senior fall. Being from California (and being generally outdoorsy), I’d known about and been intrigued by the PCT for some time. I’d also been inspired by the book Wild a couple years back, and at this point in my life, with no idea what I wanted to do with my future, was excited about the possibility of having a new adventure on the horizon post-graduation. So I told her I’d do it. It was so noncommittal at first that I’m sort of amazed our plans held. Soon after that conversation we put feelers out to see if any of our other outdoor-savvy friends would take the bait, and that’s probably when Duncan expressed some amount of interest. It was all hypothetical until around a year ago, when it became clear that none of us were getting ourselves into commitments that would interfere with this trip; it was then that we made our plans more concrete. Yes. 2016 would be the year for a thru-hike of the PCT, for us.
There are surface reasons to do a long hike like this. One is simply that it’s an adventure, that if you have an adventurous spirit the best time to express that is probably in your relative youth, before you find yourself committed to a career or a family. I think that’s a pretty legitimate reason on its own, and it’s likely the main reason we all connected with this idea from the get-go.
Another reason is that this trip could certainly be labelled as a sort of pilgrimage: a personal, potentially spiritual, journey in which each of us will be challenged in ways that force us to confront ourselves and understand ourselves on a deeper level. For me at least, that’s a part of it. I expect a trip like this to challenge me, and to change me. The nature of that change is something I can only speculate at – will I come off the trail more grounded, with a stronger sense of myself? Will my perspective on my past, present, and future life have changed? Ultimately, it’s totally unknown to me, which is part of the adventure.
There are a lot of things I could write about why I love backpacking, and I’m sure I’ll get plenty of opportunities to do that in the upcoming months, but one big thing is the way it that centers me, or at least has in the past. The trips I took to Pisgah with Project Wild throughout my time at Duke would pull me entirely out of the chaos and stress of my everyday school-related worries and into the moment. People talk about living in the present moment, about being mindful… these are approaches to life that I agree with but often go long stretches without really recognizing or practicing. I find sometimes that I need something physical, something visceral, to break me out of my more complicated or anxious headspaces. That’s probably part of the reason I enjoy long distance running and have been trying to practice meditation more often in the last year – I’m coming to value more and more the things in my life that contribute to a mind at peace, a mind more capable of being fully in the present moment. I guess I believe that this trip (essentially, living the lifestyle of a thru-hiker for 5 months) might contribute to that on a deep level, maybe even in a way that carries over into my life off the trail. Again, though, that’s just speculation/hope. If it doesn’t turn out that way, then whatever. It will still have been a learning experience in ways I can’t currently foresee.
While I could go on about other small reasons and motivations for wanting to go do what I’m about to do, I’ll cut it at there right now. Because part of wanting to do this trip, for me, is wanting to just jump in and go. At a point I can’t think about it or speculate any more about it. I can’t even wrap my head around how I feel about it, now that it’s so close. I can’t make it any more real until I’m there, and then it will be whatever it will be.
My vision for this blog
Honestly, it’s going to be free-form writing for the most part. I tend to write self-reflectively given the opportunity, so I think that a lot of my updates on here are going to include or revolve around personal reflections. I’ll also write about stories from the trail, people we meet, interesting things that are happening, etc. But also, I don’t fully know. I’m just going to step back and sort of see where my mind wants to go when I write, and maybe I’ll find that the blog will morph and shift over time because of that.
Also, pictures! Maybe. I probably wouldn’t have taken more than maybe 20 photos over the length of the whole trip, except that having a blog makes me more motivated to do so and post them online. They’ll get put here before Facebook, I’m guessing. Maybe.
(ironically this is more of a beginning than an end)
Again, HUGE thanks to all the important people who’ve been there supporting me through the planning process. Thanks to the people who’ve been there at pivotal moments of my life. Thanks to all of you who care enough to follow us along on the journey by reading the random stuff we want to write about it. And wish us luck!!!!