Why do I choose to hike 2,650 miles?
One important question that I am asked frequently is: “why are you choosing to hike 2,650 miles on the PCT?”. I know that in order to push through the hard moments I must have at least a few good answers to this question. For me, I’m choosing to hike the trail to hopefully inspire others to push past whatever issues they are struggling with, as I struggle with type 1 diabetes. Another reason is to push myself, being comfortable is nice, but it isn’t where you will grow. You need to push your comfort zones sometimes to grow as a person. Finally, I am walking this trail to enjoy and marvel in nature’s beauty, to be humbled by it, to be grateful for it.
Every ounce counts
As you can see, no where above did I mention excitement towards carrying a heavy backpack. In fact, in my opinion, a heavy backpack would be a deterrent from enjoying nature’s beauty, a distraction. I used to carry a 60lb backpack when I was younger, but that was before I was introduced to ultralight (UL) backpacking. Since then, everything has changed. I am continuously modifying the gear I carry to minimize the distraction of carrying a backpack. After 3 years of evolving my backpacking gear I’ve managed to make a kit with a base weight (the gear I carry in my pack not including food, water, or fuel) of around 10lbs. I’ve learned that every ounce counts.
Isn’t that uncomfortable?
Yes, occasionally it is uncomfortable to only have what you need and not what you want. But I’m okay with that. I really enjoy being closer to nature rather than bringing luxurious comfort items with me. I sleep under a tarp, with the bugs and critters. I enjoy the challenge of pitching my tarp each night. I use a 3/4 length foam pad instead of a deluxe self inflating air mattress. I am grateful for my foam pad’s durability and versatility. Sometimes I even prefer cold soaking (not using a stove). I love the simplicity of cold soaking. My point is that gear is personal, and the best gear is subjective, not objective. I prefer to spend less time at camp and more time on the trail and that’s why my pack is light so that I may be nimble on the trail.
Do you ever stop to smell the roses?
Yes! All the time! I’m not in a hurry to get anywhere, I just enjoy walking many miles in a day. I think stopping to smell the roses is easier when I wear a lighter pack. I don’t have to take it off and put it back on when I take a break because it’s not uncomfortable. There is one time each day that I do take my pack off for a while. Siesta time. Everyday around lunch time I find a nice place to sit or lay down for a while. I enjoy my lunch, let my feet breathe, dry my shirt, take off my hat, and let my legs recover from the previous miles. I love taking siestas. In fact, siesta time is probably my favorite part of the day.