Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pacific Crest Trail: Simple vs. Complicated, and stories to tell

Here's a description of my trip.

I've been home now for two weeks, and life as usual rumbles ahead.  I'm more interested at this point to write about the fascinating difficulty of finding a place to rent in New Zealand ahead of our trip in January, or stumbling upon the fine Black Eye Coffee Shop, than writing more about the PCT.  My hiker hunger has faded, and Will-J is no longer interested in my bear stories (sigh).  I have another longish "stuff" post already written that I'll probably stick up, and a rant about thru-hikers playing water treatment roulette, but even those seem more like work than expression - and as I'm heading back off to real work on Monday I should probably stick with/to my day job.  

In lieu of the "squishy emotional post" promised at the outset:

-There's a complicated way and a simple way of writing about my 12-year PCT hike.  This is a blog concerned with the day-to-day (such as it is), and therefore the complicated way of writing necessarily falls by the wayside.  The simple way of writing about my hike is that: (a) in 1997 I found a book recommending hiking the PCT in a certain way (very lightweight), and committed to hiking the PCT on a relatively-fast schedule; and (b) I couldn't, and can't, hike so many miles per day.

(a) I (still) find the lightweight-backpacking fringe fascinating, although I got burned by what I was told, could  very well have gotten injured, and spent a year or two circa 2000 railing against said fringe.  This said, I can't decide if there's a story worth telling there, or if every conceivable activity (in this case backpacking) has a die-hard, superstitious, and occasionally dogmatic element.  I'm leaning towards the former (and even have a working title for that story), and I also believe that despite getting burned I'm the better for the experience.  However, it's not a story that's going to get written here (or in the near future) (although my water treatment roulette post may capture the gist).    

(b) I'm a fairly good runner, so it seemed to make sense that I could hack the big days required by a relatively-short PCT hike.  But I couldn't, and I still can't.  This trip sent me out into my red-zone - beyond, surprisingly, any ultramarathon I've run or mountain I've climbed.  In short, I just get tired of hiking so much.  Running 100 miles in one day is (or at least was) fun for me.  Hiking 25-35 miles per day, day after day, was never fun for me, and still isn't (outside of the limited context of a 2-3 week trip, which remains very fun).   

I can't help but adding one more cheesy cliche to the mix, which is that while it may be important to follow your dreams, you also have to be careful about selecting those dreams.  This particular trip was great/unique/[insert meaningful adjective here], but I never felt fully comfortable out there chasing a dream from 1997 in 2012.  All I can say - which I said at the outset - is that I'm very lucky to both have been able to give up that dream in 1999, and to be able (and have the support) to return to that dream in 2012.

  

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