Slightly more than two years after beginning my Appalachian Trail adventure, I find myself on the open road, motoring my way to a new adventure on the opposite side of the country, CatFox and Schweppes in tow.
This time around, we’ll be tackling the 2,600 mile Pacific Crest Trail, hiking from the Mexican border in southern California up to the Canadian border in Washington. Longer miles, higher mountains, and harsher environments than what we encountered on the Appalachian Trail await us; including 700 miles of desert right off the bat.
Although the challenges associated with hiking the PCT are significantly different than those on the AT, I find myself much calmer and less anxious about this thru hike than I did for the first one. I attribute this not only to the confidence I gained and the lessons I learned on the Appalachian Trail, but also to a trust that I’ve found in myself and everything around me. I know that no matter what I encounter, or how bad it gets, as long as I maintain a positive outlook and sense of humor, I’ll get through it. That knowledge alone takes an enormous weight off my chest.
When comparing my mental states leading up to the last hike and this current hike, I’ve noticed an interesting change. Prior to the AT, I was terrified of not finishing the entire trail due to any unforseen circumstances. I genuinely had no idea if I’d make it all the way thru. This time, I have no doubt in my mind that I’ll make it all the way. This isn’t the thought process that I’ve chosen, but what I feel naturally inside. Instead of going out there to “attempt” a thru hike, I’m going out there to “do” a thru hike. Regardless of where this new outlook comes from, it feels good to have such a monumental challenge feel so natural.
If there is any aspect of this hike that makes me anxious, it’s the possible challenges associated with having Katana with me. I know she can handle whatever the trail throws at her, but I’m nervous about two different factors concerning her. I’m slightly worried about the heat in the desert, and the logistics of getting her around the national/state parks that don’t allow dogs. I can remedy any heat obstacles we meet in the desert by adjusting our hiking times, but the national and state park issues are something that cause me a great deal of stress when I dwell on them. I have no concrete strategy for getting her around the parks as of yet, but I’m keeping an open mind and planning to take everything in stride. The only thing I know for certain, is that it will be an adventure no matter what happens, and that excites me.