It’s a rainy weeknight as I’m writing this. I just finished eating a bag of Djupur (Icelandic candies) for dinner and mascara is smeared all over my cheeks. I just broke down and like cried my eyes out. Like a normal woman. I’m no super woman, just so you know. I cried because of everything. Too much to mention. I’m writing this to let you know that I’m human. That I have feelings chasing me and that there’s more to life than what you see on social media. That I have not recovered from a break up in just a couple of months, that there are quite some relatives and friends fighting their own battles right now, that I did way too much in January, just while I needed my peace and quiet. And because I have a pair of bruised ribs that won’t heal. Many tell me ‘wow, you seem to be handling the situation well’ and I’m trying. Just not all the time. OK, so now that I got that off my chest, it’s time for better news. ‘Cos if it’s up to me, 2017 is going to be great. It’s going to be huge. It will be Anto first. Hah!
The Pacific Crest Trail
As the title of the blog indicates, I’m going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail this summer. Just like Reese Witherspoon did in ‘Wild’. Only a part of it though, so I will be a so-called Section Hiker. The whole trail is about 2.650 miles which would take me at least four months. I don’t have that time available right now so I decided to take some time off and take a hike. Just me and America’s nature. I won’t even go into detail about Trump being the new president and I most definitely won’t let my dream affected by such an idiot.
A while ago I wrote about my goals for 2017. It was a blog in Dutch only but I basically said two things here. The most important one being my aim to fund all my travels in 2017 with income from my blog. Now I know that for many of you fellow bloggers this is just a normal thing, but as I run this blog as my second job (I work a 36/hr office job too) monetizing it is quite a challenge. My second goal was to hike two major trails this year, major as in well known ones. The reason I had to decide to only travel if I earn enough money is easy: now that I moved to my own place, most of my monthly income goes towards rent, groceries and other bills. At the end of the month, there’s not much left for saving. It’s something I am slowly getting used to by being more careful doing groceries and not buying stuff I don’t necessarily need, for example. I also go out less, prefer to have dinner at home with friends rather than in a restaurant and I can’t afford to travel every month anymore.
When writing that blog with my goals, I could have never dreamed that I would already have made enough money to buy a plane ticket to the USA in January. We12travel did really well in the first month of the year and I worked hard for that. So a vague dream suddenly became more realistic. I looked for a flight, applied for a vacation at work and I bought a ticket to Seattle. Shit just got real!
How I got the idea
A few years ago someone suggested I’d read ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed. This was long before the big hype and many, like me, never even heard about this book. I think the movie was not even in the making yet. Anyway, I ordered the book on Amazon and finished it within a couple of days. I got touched by the story, by Cheryl’s struggles and her shoes that were too small. That was the moment I decided that one day I’d do this, too. Just not at once because my current situation just doesn’t make it possible to pick up my stuff and leave.
When I ended up being alone after a sixteen year relationship, I got thinking. We actually spent quite a lot of money on short trips, weekend breaks and a big trip once a year. When I look back at those trips. the hiking parts always stayed with me the most. The silence of nature, finding your way in a rugged place and running into beautiful spots that can only be reached by foot! When looking back at the trips I made over the past couple of years, the one that I feel most accomplished about is my hike to Everest Base Camp. I hiked for some two weeks and was surrounded by the highest peaks on this planet. Finishing this challenging trail gave me a great feeling of accomplishment. A feeling I want to experience more often! Like a drug. Only then real.
When you way have less money to spend, a vacation will be different. In the past we just divided most of the costs by two (rental car, gas, campsites etc) but now those all have to be carried by me. Martijn and I always picked our next faraway destination by turns (I chose Nepal, he chose Tasmania) and this year would have been my turn. Most likely I would have chosen the Pacific Northwest, the most northwestern part of the US. As far as I see (from being a European) this is most likely one of the most underrated parts of the US and after I started reading about it, my desire to get out there got bigger and bigger. When I started looking for a way to get there within a minimal budget, hiking a part of the Pacific Crest Trail crossed my mind again. And so an idea was born…
Planning my trip
So now I have my plane ticket and can start the rest of the planning of this adventure. First I thought that I could just hitch a ride to the start of the trail, but it turns out it’s not that easy. Apparently, the trail actually starts in Manning Park in Canada but since it’s illegal to cross the border on foot, I figured that I’d just start at the American start of the trail. However, in order to get there, you will have to walk 30 miles back and forth, because there is no road access. Since I’ve only got a couple of weeks, this would be a waste of my time. So instead, I’m just going to focus on a section that is suitable for the time-frame I have, as well as my abilities and previous hiking experience I’ve got.
I’ve started reading about the PCT. About how to get to and from a section. Which sections are the most stunning. Which parts are easy and which are not. A sure thing is that I will start mid-July and will hike somewhere in Washington or Oregon, the two states that will appeal to me most. The exact point of my start and finish and the eventual distance are yet to be determined. It takes a careful planning and most of all, a lot of time to find out the right track for me. I luckily happen to have quite a bit of time these days, or better said, I make the time I need to find this out, because I’m one who believes time is not something you have but something you make. As long as it’s important enough to you.
Besides finding out the logistics, I really need to get in shape. Starting this trail out of shape is not an option. And so this means I will need to start working out like crazy. Over the past months, I’ve been a bit of a slob. I only visited the gym once and my food intake was gross. Just really gross. I will never have a skinny or athletic body yet I want to burn my fat into muscles. A few weeks ago I decided to challenge myself to hike 1.000 kilometer this year, but just this will not help me to get fit for the trail. I need to get serious about this. I have been walking around with a pair of bruised ribs ever since the end of last year (self-diagnosed, long story, just don’t ask) which hasn’t exactly contributed to a healthy life style. Coughing and sneezing hurts like hell, I’ve been sleeping without painkillers for just two weeks now and going to the gym just took too much of my energy. However, I started lifting weights again during my BodyPump session for the first time again yesterday and I loved it. I’M BACK!
On another note, there are plenty of other things I should arrange before heading out. Just some things that have been going through my mind recently:
– I need to do a course to understand maps and compass better. It’s a necessity.
– I should gather some gear. I have the basics but not everything. For example I need a single person tent, a big backpack and I’d like to a buy a new (lighter) camera. Also my hiking poles need to be renewed and I don’t have a stove for white gas.
– I have to figure out how to use a fuel stove. I prefer cooking on gas, but I’ve been told fuel is the better option.
– I will have to decide whether I want to hike with a GPS or just maps and compass.
– I’ll have to get used to hiking with a large and heavy pack. The heaviest I’m used to is 15 kilos but for this, I will need at least 20 kilos. Possibly more. Yikes.
– Let’s find sponsors for my gear, my food, transportation, overnights etc. Let’s get back into my pitch bitch mode!
– … And the list goes on!
Lots of things to do and figure out. I’m really looking forward to this project and taking myself to the next level in my outdoor life. Challenging myself to do this is going to be rewarding. I will conquer my fears and hike solo in Amerika’s wilderness. I will cross rivers by foot, camp between bears (yikes!) and survive in the wild. And most important: by myself. Solo. Alone. Just me…
I could have typed on forever, yet I’ve reached 1.500 words which I generally consider long enough for a Sunday read. I’ll start packing for my Sunday hike, carrying my new Osprey pack and new outdoor shoes by CMP, a relatively unknown Italian brand. Let’s see how they feel. I can’t afford to have shoes that don’t fit well, just like Cheryl Strayed, right? Not even when I’m hiking for just two weeks.
In case you are still wondering ‘WHY?’ then check this movie. I have watched the full 51 minutes of it with my mouth open. If you don’t have that much time, then fast forward to minute 25, which is where the Oregon/Washtington part starts. This will answer my why:
Let me know if you want to read more about my Pacific Crest Trail preparations. I’d love to write more about it and have been lacking translating my Dutch (more personal) articles into English. Leave a comment below!
Want to read more? You may also like these posts:
– Things nobody tells you about hiking to Everest Base Camp
– The best hikes in Colorado
– Food on multi-day treks: our tips and tricks
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Thanks for sharing!