One year after the PCT I have been watching the current class posting their finish pictures and noticing that PCT friends are all a little bit more nostalgic about their finish pictures and I see some rumblings about ‘doing it again’ which may be in the cards for me down the road.
I have given a lot of thought to the PCT over the last year.
I bike 12.5 miles in to work most days (~25 miles/day total), when it rains I Uber in, but I like to bike in as much as possible. This morning, and most mornings, biking in and having random people who will half kill themselves in the heat to get in front of you when on the bikepath and I got to thinking about the PCT saying “Hike your own hike (HYOY)” and how cyclists could use to practice it as well. The idea is that you set your own pace and don’t go at another persons pace, you choose your zeroes (days off), you are out there for you, not for anyone else. Sure there is some give and take but if you need to hike out, hike out, nobody will fault you. It is an important idea to learn because ultimately if you hike at a pace set by someone else you could get injured and end up off the trail. In life, I could see this as not letting your life be dictated by the life needs of another person, especially if you have different life goals.
The more I think of it, the more I feel like the PCT is a perfect little compact metaphor for life. You start out with a fence behind you with all this equipment you have to learn to use as you go and you have your missteps and trials. There is heartbreak, love, joy, sweat, pain, fear. You endure unbearable heat, freezing cold, thirst, hunger, confusion, uncertainty … everything. All this while being tired and hurting — and you love every second of all of it. At the beginning you have all these trail angels leaving water, cokes and food (magic) out for you at key points, you have easy hitches and scheduled rides, you have places to stay and everyone is supportive. Once you ‘graduate’ and make to the Sierra that ends and you are suddenly alone, you are carrying an extra burden (the damn can), you find you miss the trail magic and the support, but the scenery is glorious, obviously Oregon, with it’s easy tread and pace, would be the middle years and the Goat Rock wilderness and the winter of Canada being the ending.
The thing with the PCT as life metaphor is that you know all the time, every day on the trail, that you are running against a clock and if you don’t make it to Canada before winter you will not finish the trail, your adventure cut short. In life this is something I always try to remind myself of, to live life like I have a cab outside with the meter running, to not slip into the comfortable now and keep going around those corners until I know what is at the end, if there is an end. If you think you know what is around the next corner, hike a long trail, you will quickly understand that you really don’t.
Another lesson I learned was that when you hiking a trail and that trail goes over a mountain, you gotta just buck up and take it on. If you don’t hike that mountain today, then it is still there, in your way, tomorrow and it will never move for you. This is obviously a life challenge thing, it is something I learned when I quit smoking (which was a rough experience for me) and that nobody will do for you what you won’t for yourself.
The kindness of strangers is a beautiful thing, my faith in humanity was restored hiking the trail and I wish I could go back and shake the hand of every person who gave me a ride. Who kept telling us we were inspirational to them and kept giving us encouraging remarks and their good will (and green apples and coke). The trail angels in particular make the trail what it is and if you have read my last post you know I am very upset about the issue that came up earlier this year. For those of you hiking this year (2015) and for years to come, when you are hiking through Agua Dulce know that you are missing out on the absolute best trail angel experience on the trail now because of it. it was sadly entirely preventable, though, how the trail is another will spring up.
All that said, at the end of the day, it is about the people, and the experience would have been very lonely had I not met all the intense and amazing people I met, who I am still friends with.
With all those thoughts bouncing around the last year, I realized my time here in LA is coming to a close, I was just passing time here and I even got what I would consider the perfect ‘office’ job, the job where it not a ridiculous amount of work, where I work with the best people I could pick for a team doing what they do, where the environment is exactly what it should be. I quit that job, am on my last month in my apartment and am moving my life onto the road with another job, that I think might be better. It has one thing I need, it is mobile only, there is no ‘office’.
Where I am going?
I will be starting out working in Costa Rica, bouncing around to various co-work spaces in surrounding countries like Panama and Nicaragua and then back here to the U.S. for the holidays before heading out to Bali for a couple months, after that perhaps a stop in South Africa, I was looking at Lisbon, going back to Chiang Mai … who knows, I will turn that corner when I get to it.
(quick draft, may need some edits)