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How I Got Into Thru-Hiking

Tomorrow, I'm heading down to Campo, CA, the town closest to the Pacific Crest Trail's southern terminus. It's a now-infamous trail, exploding in popularity after 2014's Wild exposed many people to thru-hiking, and the PCT in particular, for the first time.


In 2013, before this, I was on the High Sierra Trail, on a trip with my boy scout troop, or an offshoot of it, the more adventurous kids. We headed east out of Lodgepole, and I got my second taste ever of the High Sierra. Ascending past the Angel's Wings and Precipice Lake, then looking down into the vast expanse of the Big Arroyo is a day I'll never forget. But days later, the last night of the trip, we camped at Crabtree Meadows, the intersection of the PCT and the HST. My trip had taken me 60 miles. The two PCT hikers I met there had walked 770 miles from Mexico, big external frame packs, beards, a fascinating combo of a pared down kit and the luxuries needed for months on the trail. A foam sleeping pad cut in half, and a full coffee setup. I was carrying a 7 pound Gregory pack handed down from my dad, loaded up to over 40 pounds with a freestanding tent for 3 and a pair of jeans, a cotton sweater; I'm pretty sure someone in the group had a cast iron dutch oven. I was maybe 5'7" and under 100 lbs at the time. I'd never heard of the PCT, or of thru-hiking, despite ostensibly being on one at the time.



The hurdle was a silly luxury item, but I stand by it.

I did end up hiking in those racing flats for most of this trip.


I felt like extended questioning would bother the hikers, so I kept my inquiries brief. But after our discussion, I was hooked. That was it. The promise that the peace, challenge, community, and solitude I had found out here could be extended, honed-- I was in. It sounded miserable. It sounded perfect. It became a fixation and a life goal, and so I worked toward it in the ways I could. I had a plan all laid out to section hike the trail, starting in 2020. But after several years of Oregon fires and two summers where I struggled to get time off of work, my plan slipped out to 2030. Finishing the trail over 10 years.



This was too slow. And I was too overworked, and felt as though I had lost touch with myself, and needed to do something to dramatically take care of myself. So I figured out a way to take the time away from work, put all my belongings in a storage unit, prep my gear list, figure out some medical details-- everything is in order. Or as close as it can be.


There probably won't be any blogs for a while! But there'll be a lot to get caught up on when I get back.


The gear list can be found below, insofar as any gear list for a months-long trip will stay the same. It's a full-comfort setup, with a bigger tent, real sleeping pad, warmer sleeping bag, a pillow (!!!) and more. And even with a camera and some silly stuff, it's under 10 lbs base! Until the Sierra hits.



Funny enough, Katie (pictured) from my 2020 JMT trip just started the PCT a few days ago! We'll see if I can catch up.



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Hey, thanks for stopping by!

I appreciate you reading! I hope it was fun, useful, or interesting.

 

The dream is that by running this blog, I can give those I care about a way to keep up to date with what I'm doing. Bonus points if someone stumbles across this and it helps them plan a trip or get into the outdoors. Always feel free to drop me a line if you've got questions about anything posted here!

Much love,

Riley

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