A bunch of two day backpacking trips
Ran exactly four times (8 miles each). Wouldn’t do anything different, four runs gave confidence
Harts Pass headed south on July 5th
Reached So. Kennedy Mead.
Made it to the US/Mexico border
Delta came to the trail having just graduated from college. He and his cousin Long John had dreamt of doing the PCT for a couple of years. He didn’t want to jump into a career, and wanted a buffer period to make an informed decision about the rest of his life.
“I didn’t want that buffer period (between college and career) to be lazy or feeling unproductive, or be boring, or expensive. And I’m from the West Coast and I feel an affinity to the landscape here and I thought the PCT would be a great challenge and also a wonderful grounding foundation for the rest of my life. And I also think of my life as a story, and it seemed like the perfect first chapter to the start of my adulthood and independent life. Just to know I had that sort of backbone that I could walk 20-30 miles and take care of myself, and spend a lot of time alone. I was proving something to myself and setting the tone for the rest of my life that I could do really difficult things and work at them day by day.”
Lohg John completed a planned section hike of Oregon/Washington, then got off trail. Delta was alone for long periods of time after he left, then was joined by his girlfriend for the John Muir Trail section in the Sierras.
HIKING PARTNER UNCERTAINTY
“It’s a unique experience to start with someone and walk a really long way with someone and then have them leave. A lot of people will start with someone who doesn’t make it. That was the scariest moment on the trail for me (when Long John left). I really tried to remember that never in my life was I going to have this experience in solitude, and I kept reminding myself that this was super valuable solitude, and trying to be grateful for it rather than being pissed off that I was alone. I was scared I was going to want to quit, but I figured I would at least hike a section alone. But then I got to the next town and felt really accomplished having making it to town alone, and so I kept going. ”
“When you get somebody off trail to come in and hike with you, they add this other dimension, because they haven’t been hiking the trail, they’ve been doing a desk job or something. So the conversation shifts, and I thought that was really rewarding. And it’s also good to do it with someone you are romantically involved with because it’s challenging and really tests your relationship but it’s a beautiful challenge.”
“If someone is coming in to join you, you have to be ready to adjust your attitude towards the trail. I was so used to being on a rigid schedule that I’d push us and not let us enjoy things, but I learned quickly that that wasn’t going to be fun for her, or for either of us. And then if you are starting with someone, a lover or partner, you shouldn’t go in with the expectation that it’s going to be super romantic because it’s outdoors. You are walking almost every hour of the day, and when we were in the Sierras together it was freezing at night, so you couldn’t really hang out. Be prepared for it to be full of love, but not extremely romantic and making love under waterfalls.”
HIS TRAIL ADVICE...
"Be social - I can’t imagine doing this whole trail alone, and don’t think I would’ve enjoyed it. The people I met on the hike were the most important part of the hike. The trail is a great place to feel like you are starting from scratch and be a very friendly person.
Be flexible - There are so many moving parts in a thru-hike that you can’t predict or control your experience. A lot of people obsess about controlling the logistics of their experience, me included. Especially before the trail thinking too much about gear and food. At least for me it was nice to let go of that desire for control and not have super intense expectations or a rigid schedule.
Make yourself happy - When I was alone and getting pretty miserable, when I wanted to hike big days everyday, I was so unhappy, so it felt great to hitchhike into a town (unplanned) because I really needed it. And then also staying in the next town longer than I anticipated was great. And then skipping a couple road walks. It just all felt great. So do things to make yourself happy when you need it."