For my 2019 writing challenge and in preparation for the Pacific Crest Trail in 2020, I am spending the entire year reading and writing about books focused on a journey. For my fourth book, I dove into “Wild by Nature” by Sarah Marquis.
Knowing Too Much
“Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart” by Carrot Quinn reads like a turn by turn description of the Pacific Crest Trail. So much so, that at one point in the middle of the book I was fearful of knowing too much. Now, I know reading about a trail is much different than experiencing it first-hand. There are still plenty of surprises waiting for me between Mexico and Canada, but the last year has been about getting ready not spoiling the journey. With that said, moving forward I am going to spend a little less time reading and watching stories about the trail. I am confident in what I know, and I am ready for what I don’t to force me into earnest adaptation.
The Pacific Crest Trail can be broken up into five sections: The Desert Region of Southern California, The Sierras, Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. Most thru-hikes tackle this journey between April and September, which means if you are heading northbound you will encounter extreme heat in the desert, snow and freezing temperatures in the Sierras, heat and humidity in Northern California, fire dangers in Oregon, and cold/rainy weather in Washington. The trail is also wonderfully inconsistent. Just ask anyone who is in the Sierras right now with 200% snowpack. This book did a wonderful job of explaining how to adapt to these changes, how it impacts your mind, and how to make the best of it. These are lessons I will take with me on my journey.
Over the course of five months, you are bound to get sick enough that you’re forced off the trail. This can happen thanks to something you’ve eaten, water that isn’t properly filtered, and/or something you catch along the way. This may force a person to take more zero days than they want. The important lesson that I took from this book was to listen to your body. Pain is your body’s way of screaming for attention and telling you something isn’t right. If I want to make it to the finish line, I must listen to these calls.
Life After the Trail
Life after hiking 2,650 miles fascinates me. I’ve read of a depression that lingers, troubles adjusting back to normal routines, and a sense of confusion about the next chapter. I can’t help but think about what awaits me at the end. I am sure I will experience some, if not all, the emotions above as I begin life once again in Seattle. Even now, I am trying to prepare my mind for the task of acclimating back into a life I escaped for 5 months.
Be good to each other,
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