I think a lot of hikers remember the moment they unknowingly decided they were going to do their first thru-hike. Maybe they had a friend who did it, or maybe they stumbled across it somewhere online. But something got their attention, and somewhere a seed was planted. And then, when life gets that feeling that a change is in the air, that seed blossoms into an obsession that won’t go away.
Sometimes it’s an immediate obsession, sometimes it takes a while. For me, I had been relaxing at night browsing Pinterest. It was a quiet night and the year was winding down, so my mind was on the upcoming year and what possibilities it held.
I had really gotten serious about my health that year and was hiking a lot and completing the Six Pack of Peaks challenge. So as I was scrolling through my feed of motivational quotes, hiking hacks, and national park bucket lists, I came across this little picture.
What’s that? I thought.
When I clicked on the image and began reading my heart began to beat faster.
The triple crown. Three glorious trails. Three epic challenges. Three life changing adventures.
And one of them started right here in Southern California. The Pacific Crest Trail. 2,650 miles through desert, high Sierras, and everything in between. A trek from Mexico to Canada that went through seven national parks and 25 national forests. And it was freaking beautiful.
I began furiously researching. Something had grabbed me and would not let go. The idea of spending so much time in the wilderness, experiencing raw nature. The thought of challenging my body to do something I would never have dreamed of five years ago. And the realization that this was an open door to so many more experiences. Not only was there the Appalachian Trail and Continental Divide Trail after the PCT, there were also trails around the world. These ideas drove me to stay up late consuming as much knowledge as I could about the trail.
The seed was planted. I continued to read about the trail and loved browsing through personal blogs of previous thru-hikers. It was only a few days before I realized this was something I had to do. And I had to do it now. Not someday, but this next season. I was not going to get this itch to go away until I had scratched it.
There was no reason not to. I could afford to take a few months off. I was in the best shape of my life. And I had been getting restless where I was. Two years in the same place was the longest I’d stayed somewhere since leaving home. My heart was getting that wandering feeling and a grand adventure in the wild was exactly what I was craving.
“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir
My researching instantly turned into planning. My journal was soon filled with resupply notes and gear lists. I had everything planned and mapped out within two weeks.
Little did I know, those plans would change several times between deciding on hiking the PCT and actually setting foot on the trail, but that’s a story for another day.