Monday, February 13, 2017

Announcement: PCT 2017!

Well, I guess the world may as well know: I will being thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2017! Though some of my family and friends have known for a couple of months, I decided to write a letter (which I've posted below) to make the announcement to the remainder of my family (you can read about how that went here). When I decided that this year was my best option for completing my PCT goal I knew that many people would have questions and difficulty understanding my motivations. "Why do you want to hike 2,600+ miles?" "Alone?!" "But what about your job?" My usual answer: "Why not?" Why not spend time intimately experiencing the country that I live in? Why not hike by myself on a well established trail that hundreds of other people hike everyday? Why not leave my part time jobs when I'm already debt free and have the savings to do so? With a capable body and logistical timing, why not take the five months to experience something that I can then think back upon with fond memories for the next 70 year?

Hey Fam!
With Christmas just around the corner I thought I ought to pass along my list for this year. As with previous years I have a theme that correlates with something that I am looking forward to or in need of (thanks again for the computer last year!). This year's theme is: The Pacific Crest Trail. I first heard about the PCT while reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed (actually, this book was a gift from Gramma & Papa in Christmas 2012), a book that follows the mis/adventures of a lady walking the trail in the 1990s. From there I was inspired to look into other hikes, which lead me to discovering, researching, and completing the Camino del Norte in summer of 2015. 

Overlooking Basque Country (northern Spain) on a foggy morning.
Photo Credit: Haley M. Egan
Though it was challenging to walk the 500+ miles in 33 days, the Camino was an experience that was meaningful and enriching in so many ways. The pilgrimage was also an excellent way to explore a country from its very roots, literally and metaphorically. Of course, I could have joined a bus tour and seen the entire coast in three days, but I never would have been able to see the verdant forests, glimmering beaches, and rugged mountains the same way. Not to mention that those tours cost more for a two-week trip than I spent during the entire three months of my adventure that spanned six-ish (I’m counting Ireland separate from the U.K.) countries on two 
separate continents! But I digress. Hiking the Camino was the most intimate way that I feel I could have travelled Spain, a feeling that I haven’t experienced outside of traveling my own state. How have I managed to see so much of my own beautiful and diverse country, but lack the same connectivity that I did while abroad? How is it that I’ve only really explored the main cities of the western coastal states, when the environment that I really enjoy to be in is the one less populated? I’ve hiked more than 500 miles through a different country, but I haven’t hiked the one that I live in? Something doesn’t feel right about that, and I don’t see much time in my future that will allow for me to amend this. With my responsibilities few and my debts repaid, I think next spring/summer (dependent on snowpack in the Sierra’s) will be the optimum time for me to complete the PCT.

On the Camino, people would ask about what hikes I wanted to do in the future. My answer was always, “I want to hike the PCT once my student loans are paid off!” And with $27,000 of debt, I had thought it would be a few more years in the future. So, after working two official part-time jobs, pet sitting (sometimes for weeks on end), picking up odd jobs, getting loads of help from Mom & Kenneth, and receiving a generous gift from Nana R., my loans are gone. And here I am. Unencumbered and well-supported by loved ones. Now I have the chance to fulfill this dream and begin create the next one to work toward.

                Though I already have most of the gear that I will need for this adventure, I am still looking to purchase a quality, lightweight, warm sleeping bag. Here is the link to the one that best fits my criteria: . In terms of details, I would like the 10 degree, slim, short (preferably in blue). If you would like to contribute smaller things here is the link to my Amazon list: xxxxxxxx Of course, I will also need a boatload of food, so any donations of jerky, tuna packets, and nuts would be lovely! Shoot me any questions that you may have about this next adventure!