When I spent a week on the Colorado Trail, I made a point to remember the name of every person I met while hiking. I am the absolute WORST with names and wanted to challenge myself to be a better person with a simple task. At the end of the week, I remembered the name of every person I met on trail. Even though it was a small victory, I was proud of myself.
A big thank you to Ethan, Allen, Ra, Raven, and Mervin, Jack and Debbie, Huey, Daniel, Conner, Dylan, Jake, Ray and Asher, Chloe, Bridget and Kelsey, Old Married Man, Ben, and John for allowing me to do so!
As my thru-hike approaches, I’ve been focusing my intentions, looking inward, and asking myself what I really want out of hiking the PCT. Just like I did before, I want to challenge myself to be better in life. Months ago, I made a promise to myself that this would be the year I show up for myself, follow through with my goals and plans, and stop being so damn comfortable.
How do I show up for myself on trail?
With this question in mind, I am focusing my intentions to accomplish one goal: to allow my experiences on trail help me become a better person in my life off trail (and to get to Canada, of course).
There’s no question that this year will be unlike any other on the Pacific Crest Trail. We are seeing the highest snow pack on record in the high Sierra, with numbers well above average along most of the trail. As the snow is melting, we are seeing damages to the trail and critical infrastructure like bridges and roads with no estimated dates for repairs or access. We will see raging creeks and river crossings well into summer. And threats of wildfire always loom.
Despite all of these challenges and uncertainties, many people are still taking on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2023.
My Intentions on the PCT
Make deep and meaningful connections with the people I meet on trail
If I’ve learned anything from the research I’ve done about the trail and the communities surrounding it, it’s that the people make the experience worthwhile. I am choosing to start my hike solo, but I don’t think I’ll be alone for long. And while I am no social butterfly, this is the part of thru-hiking that I am looking forward to the most.
There seems to be an understanding that hikers have for each other when they take on a trail as big as this. We all decided to make the same decision- to hike from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail and to leave our lives on hold in pursuit of making a dream reality. These same people understand you and they lookout for you. They become part of your life on trail, your new reality. They become your best friends, your family. That’s the nature of the trail.
That being said, I’m excited to make friends that also decided to make the same crazy decision that I did. I’m excited to meet people from all walks of life, from all over the world, and to learn all about their lives. I’m excited to make meaningful connections and lasting friendships with the people I meet on trail.
Be where my feet are
I’m a chronic over thinker, whether I like to admit it or not. I’m always thinking about what’s next. On the trail, I want to challenge myself to be where my feet are. This means to surrender myself to the moment I am in, take it all in, rather than thinking about what’s next or worrying about the past. I want to watch sunrises and sunsets, cowboy camp underneath the stars, swim in alpine lakes, all while being fully immersed in that moment.
Considering the uncertainties of this year, I think this might be difficult for me. All I’ve been thinking of is the snow and the river crossings and what the trail will look like when I get to these sections. It’ll be important to prepare, plan, and talk about these areas before taking them on; however, it’ll be important to me that I not dwell on my decisions and be 100% comfortable and confident in making them.
Be my true authentic self
I’ll be living with only the essentials and whatever extra weight I’m willing to carry on my back for the next six months. I will be physically exerting myself nearly every day that I’m on trail. The idea of trying to be someone I am not and trying to fit into someone’s idea of who I should be, sounds exhausting.
To be 100% my true authentic self, I won’t focus on the opinions of others. I won’t dull myself down and overthink every action. Instead, I’ll be honest and raw and uncomfortable and I’ll let others in. I’ll trust in my experiences and skills because only I know what I am capable of accomplishing. I’ll be confident and proud and happy.
I hope that by focusing on these intentions and by working towards an overall goal, that my experiences on trail are as meaningful as they can be. When I finish my journey on the Pacific Crest Trail, I hope that I can say that it changed my life for the better.
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