Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Long Walk

Have you ever felt like going on a really long walk? I mean one that lasts for days or weeks. Sometimes when I am out hiking, I wonder, what would it be like to just keep going? Those of us living in North America are really blessed, in that, if we wanted, we could just keep walking. Canada and the U.S. are such huge countries, with so much to see and explore. Since I moved back to the U.S., I have been trying to visit as many different parks and wilderness areas as I can. One of the greatest things about America is the system of national parks and more specifically, the system of long trails. I am so happy these trails exist, very few countries in the world have such well maintained trails in such a variety of terrains. Truly something to be proud of.

In total, I believe there are 11 official national scenic trails as well as many other long distance hiking trails (link to National Trails System). The national scenic trails range in length from 220 miles (New England National Scenic Trail) to 4600 miles (North Country National Scenic Trail). The three most well known trails are the Appalachian Trail (2180 miles), The Pacific Crest Trail (2660 miles) and the Continental Divide Trail (~ 3100 miles, trail is open to interpretation), AKA the triple crown. All three of these trails run North to South and can walked in sections or in their entirety. The links will take you to volunteer organizations associated with each trail. People attempting to hike one of these trails are known as thru-hikers. They are a special breed of people who think that hiking for months, being hungry and sore every day and smelling terrible is fun.

Those of you who know me, know that I love the outdoors. I have been hiking and backpacking since I was child. The feeling of being in the wilderness has no comparison and I treasure my time and experiences there immensely. Life gets put back into perspective really fast. As a young man, growing up in the east, I imagined myself hiking the Appalachian Trail at some point in the future. While I didn’t seriously make an effort to do this, it has been in the back of my mind for a long time. After moving to California, and falling in love with the mountains, deserts and forests, that longing to hike a long trail came back very strongly. I started to think more seriously about this a couple of years ago and now it has coalesced into a plan of action.

I have decided to make an attempt of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014. This is quite an undertaking and requires full commitment from me and no small sacrifice from Lori. It will require me to leave my job and us to give up our residence, it will require Lori to make changes that will not be easy. It will require resources, planning, a little luck, and a hell of a lot of determination to pull off. Fortunately, I have a loving and supporting wife who understands my need to do this. Over the course of the next six weeks, I will focus much of my free time and energy on preparation for this undertaking. I don’t expect many people to understand why I want to do this but I invite you to join me as I prepare and attempt to hike the PCT. So, follow along as I stumble my way through this unique experience.