The most commonly asked question I get regarding my upcoming Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike is, “How are you physically preparing?”
To answer, I always stare deeply into their eyes, let a few moments of silence pass us by, maybe even grab their hand, then respond ever-so-passionately, “Binge eating.” And then I wink while blowing a kiss.
Ok, maybe I don’t answer that dramatically, but the truth is that I am not really doing anything to physically prepare. And people find that distressing…
I hike as often as possible, so that’s a start, but I don’t really know how one can prepare their body for what’s in store on a thru-hike. I mean, I won’t truly know until I do it, right?
I don’t want to be a fat blob of mass when I start my hike, so I will continue my diet of vegetables, meat, some fruit, beer, ice cream, coffee, hot chocolate, wine, donuts, champagne, donuts dunked in coffee, donuts dunked in champagne, and guacamole. That sounds good enough for me. Then I will be out hiking every weekend if the weather in good ole Seattle isn’t too miserable. Maybe I will do some squats or something with like five push-ups. But that’s it. I know that my body will adjust accordingly in the first couple of weeks out in the unforgiving desert. Let’s save all that fun for then, ya?
How I try to make up for those distressing looks I get from others, is I tell them I am focusing more on my mental preparation. Personally, I think that will be the hardest part of my hike, battling the temptation of leaving the trail for a warm bed, all the food and beer at the snap of my fingers, Netflix (because come on, Netflix rocks), and access to hugs from friends and family members who don’t smell and actually want to touch me because I have showered.
I picked up a book called Pacific Crest Trials: A Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail by Zach Davis and Carly Moree. Both authors are successful long distance thru-hikers, which makes them way qualified in my book! So, I decided to read theirs.
The main take-away I have gotten from the book so far is making sure I am thru-hiking for the right reasons. Each person will have different “right reasons”, but I need to make sure I have a clear purpose for myself when those times I want to quit sneak up, which they will, and I need my purpose to outweigh my will for quitting. This can be used for anything essentially. Why am I doing this again? “Because when it comes to backpacking 2,650 miles, the greatest determining factor of success is clarity of purpose.”
The book encourages those thru-hiking to make three lists before starting the trail to take with them and read over as many times as needed while on the trail. And I want to share my lists with you, because
“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra
The first list is:
I am thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail because…
-I caught myself day-dreaming about it more than anything else in my life
-I love backpacking and being outdoors
-It will challenge me in ways I have yet to experience
-I imagine it will change my perspective on life, for the better
-I want to meet new people
-This will be the adventure of a lifetime
-The thought of it makes me nervous, but oh so excited
-I want to live intentionally and meaningfully
The next list is my favorite, because I think about how I will feel WHEN I finish the hike, which makes me smile so much it hurts.
When I successfully thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail, I will…
-Be proud of myself in the deepest way possible
-Become more fearless to challenges, opportunities, and life in general
-Fall more in love with myself, people, and the outdoors
-Learn to never settle for anything that doesn’t help me positively grow
-Have a clearer perspective on what direction I want my life to go
-Inspire others to chase their dreams, because it does matter and it does make a difference
And the final list:
If I give up on the Pacific Crest Trail, I will…
-Feel ashamed of myself
-Be devastated, and know I will regret giving up
-Return to the trail, so why not just do it now
-Question who I am and where I am going in life
-Feel embarrassed and unsuccessful
-Cry into countless bags of Hot Cheetos and bottles of red wine until I become obese and die
I have also chosen to be very public about my thru-hike. This is because I want to be held accountable and also welcome support. This is not my strength, if you know me at all, but it feels so refreshing for people to ask me how they can help me as well ask how they can best support me. It means the world, so you even reading this truly makes an impact for me!
This has gotten me a lot of questions about how I am logistically preparing for my hike, and to the utter disappointment of many, I am not doing much preparation in that area as well. So now I hit strike two. No physical preparation and no logistical preparation. (This is where I start getting those really crazy, judgmental, doubtful eyes.) If you are unfamiliar, most hikers prepare re-supply boxes in advance which are full of food and other necessities, and have someone they trust send their boxes to specific post offices along the trail. You see, I am more of a “wing it” type gal, so I will be re-supplying along the trail in whatever grocery stores and gas stations are available. I know this will suck at times, but I love this kind of adventure! *Be sure to be on the look-out for my blog post about WHY YOU SHOULD ALWAYS PLAN YOUR RE-SUPPLIES after my hike is complete.*
But honestly, what is most awesome to me about this whole thru-hiking business, is that we can all prepare differently, yet reach the same destination. I don’t have to do it the way most do it, and you don’t have to follow in my footsteps (probably best anyway). But I hope to have some incredible stories to share, with memories that leave me feeling high whenever I think about them. I want to encourage you as well to know it’s ok to go against the crowd and be different. You know yourself better than anyone. Do what works for you. I mean, you’re the one who has to live your life and exist in your body with your personal characteristics. (Trust me, it’s much harder to do things other people’s way, than just doing it the way you feel comfortable.)
So there you have it folks. That’s my plan of walking 2,650 continuous miles on foot! No real physical preparation, no real logistical planning, and just some mental preparation to help me overcome my emotional crisis when I just ate all of my food but still have 40 miles to go until the next town, a tarantula crawled into my sleeping bag while cowboy camping and is taking a nap near my crotch, and I just pooped my pants because I thought I had more time than 3.4 seconds to make it to my defecation bush.
I have had so much fun getting all of my gear together, making videos, writing blogs, sharing about my up-and-coming adventure, and I have never been more excited about something in my life. And that’s what life should be about, right? Bursting at the seams with excitement, joy, giddiness, and the unknown!
And I truly hope that you find your way to something spectacular if you haven’t already.
Please subscribe to my e-mail list if you haven’t already! And if reading blogs isn’t your thing, please subscribe to my YouTube channel herewhere I will be vlogging my trail journey, which might be more entertaining to be honest.
Thank you AGAIN for letting me share my thoughts, regardless of how unconventional they may be.
With love and adventure,
The Whimsical Woman
PS – Here is an awkward YouTube video of me talking about what I just wrote above.