PCT Prep: ‘You prepare most for what you’re most afraid of’

A while back I was talking to my friend about her PCT thru hike. She was talking about how she packed too much food, and she said:

“You prepare most for what you’re most afraid of.”

I think that was a really profound piece of advice. Now that I’m coming up on my own 1000 mile PCT hike, the question is:

What am I most afraid of?

‘”And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards [Canada] to be born?”-William Butler Yeats’ -Samwise

Mental Commitment

I have been thinking about this trail for 15 years. I didnt tell anybody. All my life i have been looking for an opening to take this chance.

A little less than a year ago, my life fell apart. I broke up with my significant other, lost a career, and moved back in with my parents. This was a profound shock. It has been a hard year, but the upside of it is a kind of nothing-to-lose freedom. It is a perfect time to do something crazy.

It’s been weird to see this thing go from a dream to an approacing reality. At first it was just light planning and hypothetical talk. I wasn’t fully committed until I started telling my friends and family. Once other people get involved, they lock you in.

Theres always fear of letting down others. But to be honest, I have a lot of exposure to this. I have been “failing charmingly” for years.

Gathering Gear

Quick, you have to live out of a backpack for three months, what do you bring?

If that caused a slight twinge of panic, you know gear anxiety.

Pictured: the simple life.

I’ve been gathering my gear for a long time now. The PCT has always been in the back of my mind as ive worked for the REI. When deals were available, I swooped in.

But recently it really kicked into high gear. There are a ton of things to buy. I’ve had to deal with the idea that I’m going to be spending literally all my money on this. Burning through your safety buffer can be fun!

For all my gear, I look for lightweight and multi-use. I’m not going as crazy lightweight as some people, because I want some comforts. I have a feeling I will adjust my gear layout during the hike.

Whats For Dinner?

What are you going to have for dinner? How about, whats for dinner for the next three months?

To save space and weight, you need to take off all packaging and individually seal everything into zip lock bags. Dont mix up your gatorade and your mac and cheese powder!

Food prep is tricky. I want some things to be mailed to me, especially staples that will be cheaper to buy now than later. But there are plenty of stores near the trail.

To be honest, this is something I’m going to have to learn along the way. I am not good at judging how much food to bring.

Plenty of options for a trail gourmet!

In general, I am bad a budgeting and rationing supplies. I’m hoping the trail teaches me these skills. This may be the aspect of the hike where I have the biggest gap in knowledge.

But it’s not what scares me most.

Prep those muscles!

I have my trip planned, I’m mentally committed, and I have my gear. The bulk of the prep is done. But there’s just one thing I’m forgetting.

Now I have to walk a thousand miles.

And now we get to what I’ve been preparing for most, and what I’m most afraid of.

I was very active last June and July. This was the first aspect of the trip i fixated on.

I never was an athlete. Throughout my life i have been very skinny, and never really pushed myself to gain muscle weight. To make it 1000 miles, I need to bulk up.

For this trip, I have gone into high gear for training. Hiking with a pack, road walking, and even jogging.

I hate jogging. The things we so for love, right?

Will it be enough? Am I missing some major part that will unexpectedly trip me up? And if I make it, will I be forever changed into a new person?

One more thing to worry about…

I am writing this right now from the height of panic about the coronavirus. In case youre reading this later, it’s spring 2020, and they just declared a pandemic. People are freaking out.

They can’t close the trail. But I need access to post offices to pick up mail drops along the way. I need people to pick me up when I’m hitch hiking. And I need restaurants to be open for massive trail meals.

All these could be interrupted by the virus. I knew 2020 was going to be bad, but I didn’t expect this. It’s a wild card that could seriously trip me up.

Lets go already!

My start date is in 4 days. It’s amazing to see all my preperations come to fruition.

It may be wrong for me to focus on the fear that comes with thru hiking. Maybe readers want to see confidence and independence, and not hear about anxiety. But i think this is a more honest approach. You would be stupid not to be somewhat anxious.

Large trips and endevours are tests of bravery. Bravery means taking the right action in spite of fear. And in life we all need our bravery tested. When we come out on the other side, we will be more sure of ourself.

Thanks for reading this long post. I will continue posting during the trip. Stay tuned, I have no idea whats going to happen but it will be an adventure.

Wish me luck!