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Continental Divide Trail 2011 close to 3000 miles through new mexico, colorado, wyoming and montana. May 1 start date.

I'm finally doing it!

USA | Friday, 17 April 2009 | Views [769] | Comments [1]

Hello. Tomorrow is my last day as a non-walker; my last day eating ice cream, at least for a while. I begin the 2,660 mile trek on Saturday morning. It is still surreal to me that I'll actually be doing this. I know the first few weeks will be among the most difficult, but soon I will find a rhythm. People have been asking me how I've been preparing for the trail and my answer has been: "Oh, I've been eating cake and stuff." I figure I may as well fatten up for the long walk. I'm sure at some point in the next week or so I will say to myself: why did you ever think you would want to do this? But I'll push through it and take one step at a time. 

I spent the last 2.5 weeks visiting friends in Seattle and Bozeman. I have my Wilderness First Responder re-certification and several blisters from a 4-day hike along the Elwha River in Olympic NP. I'm not sure if I could be better prepared. I spent all of today organizing everything and trying to predict when I will want or need anything over the next 6 months. Impossible, but I tried. My pack is too full, but I insist on eating well so I'll just have to deal with it. I'll spend tomorrow making last-minute photo-copies and buying olive oil. I think I could probably prepare forever. It's time to just go. 

I wrote a little something yesterday about the hike and will include it here: 

I've been wanting to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail, all 2,660 miles of it, for about 5 years now. I grew up in San Diego and decided at a young age that I wanted to become a National Park Ranger when I grew up. My mom took my siblings and I camping dozens of times in Julian and the Anza Borrego Desert. When I was in junior high we ventured further to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and other parks throughout the southwest. I spent 4 years in high school volunteering at Cabrillo National Monument as a tidepool monitor and in the visitor's center. When I was 17 I volunteered through the Student Conservation Association (SCA) for a summer in Yosemite. I then spent the next 7 years working as a crew leader for the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) in Yellowstone. I am in love with the outdoors and find hiking to be one of the most satisfying and challenging ways to spend my time. I suppose it has become somewhat of an obsession. With my job in Yellowstone I take groups of high school students into the wilderness with the grizzly bears and the wolves. They come sometimes having never been on a hike before and leave 8 weeks later as experienced backpackers. 

While in Yellowstone a few seasons ago I decided I wanted to challenge myself by going on solo overnight trips. My first experience was somewhat terrifying. I thought I saw someone watching me in the woods, walking back and forth with a headlamp on when really it was the moon through the trees. I overcame my fear though and went on 5 more solo trips, sometimes walking 70 miles in 48 hours. 

A couple years ago 3 of my YCC coworkers and I decided to walk the Camino De Santiago, a 600-mile pilgrimage route in northern Spain. We spent 32 days and walked from the French border to Finisterre, or "the end of the earth." When I finished the walk I spent weeks back in San Diego walking from place to place because I missed the routine. PCT dreams reawakened. 

Last year I spent 5 months in New Zealand volunteering on organic farms and walking another 600 miles on my own. After that I was convinced I had a chance to fulfill my dream to walk from Mexico to Canada in one season. So I've spent the last 6 months working Trail Crew in Yosemite and preparing myself not only physically but mentally for the great PCT challenge. 

My official planned start date is April 18, 2009. I hope to walk about 20 miles a day for nearly 6 months, which should get me to Canada by October. Most people I tell about this trip cannot fathom why I'd want to walk for 6 months while carrying a stove, sleeping bag, tarp, clothes and food on my back. But I can't think of anything I'd rather do. My life will consist of walking, eating, sleeping, and communing with other thru hikers. 

When the PCT seed was first planted in my mind 5 years ago I began preparing myself mentally for a long solo adventure: the days and nights I'd spend with my own thoughts, weeks without seeing another human. For some reason it never occurred to me that I'd run into anyone else along the way. However, once I ordered my Yogi PCT Handbook and really started planning the trip in November of 2008, I realized I wouldn't be the only one out there. Long-distance trails harbor a subculture of hundreds of other crazy people just like myself. I quickly joined the PCT-L, a daily email conversation of past and future PCT hikers, or wannabes. Sometimes 5 times a day I receive the latest in PCT news with conversations about the best ultra-light gear, rattlesnakes, maps, the most effective water filtration system, or rumors of trail pirates. I spent the first few months listening in on the discussions, fascinated by the insight and information, yet feeling intimidated by all the posts from past hikers. One can distinguish between a past PCT hiker and a hopeful by the name. Part of being a thru-hiker is receiving a trail name by other hikers. I won't be official until I earn my trail name it seems. I have been trying to predict what my name will be, and have been choosing my wardrobe to aide my fellow hikers in naming me; I packed my rainbow bright polypros and a dress. I also thought about dying my hair red or carrying an absurd amount of apples or something. But I suppose it will happen naturally. I can't help but wonder though. 

I have all 11 food resupply boxes filled and ready to be shipped, my PCT patch sewn on my pack, and my standby gear ready to be sent to me. I begin in two days. I am still feeling a little uncertain, nervous and at the same time overwhelmed with the expectation that in just a few hours I'll be fulfilling my dream. It won't be easy. I have been testing myself mentally and physically for years, to see if I have what it takes to finish. I realize it is impossible for me to know what lies ahead, but there's nowhere I'd rather be than on the Pacific Crest Trail, northbound, embracing each day as it comes, working through each challenge as it arrives. 

Tags: preparation

Comments

1

Emily! I miss you! It has almost been a couple weeks since the beginning of your hike. Wow, time really flies. I hope you are having the time of your life and can't wait to hear all the stories of your hike and see if you have gotten your trail name. I am here sitting while you are out there, somewhere, walking. I can't wait to join you when you are in Washington headed toward the trail end :) Love You-Amanda Ps.Thanks for my giraffe finger puppet and hand-knitted hat. They were so fun to open.

  Amanda Apr 30, 2009 8:24 AM

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