Sunday social travel talk,  We12hike

Shit just got real: Pacific Crest Trail: here I come!

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!
 
off to the pct 1
 

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.
 
op weg naar de pacific crest trail
 
 
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
 
For a daily dose of outdoor & adventure inspiration, follow me on Instagram and Facebook!
 
Thanks for sharing!

19 Comments

  • Toccara

    This trail and this experience has your name all over it! I am so proud of you for committing to making this happen. It will be a life-changing experience and I am excited to follow along and read about your journey. Just like Cheryl, keep a journal, so you remember all of the thoughts, feelings, and emotions you encounter along the way. I think selecting Oregon and Washington was a good call. Washington is just gorgeous and we’re dying to get to Oregon one of these days, as well! Congrats on this journey. Again, can’t wait to read all about it!

    • anto

      Awww thanks! I’m sure it will be, even though it will be a short time. Just the fact that I got lost on an easy trail in Iceland last summer scares me but then again, I know I’m capable of doing this, if I just push myself. I actually read quite a few of your Washington posts a year or two ago and immediately fell in love with it, so you helped me making the decision for this part, more or less. I hope we can meet someday again soon, it would be awesome if we could catch up again! Love to Sam and you xoxo

  • Solveig

    Hi Anto! We haven’t talked in a while and I really don’t know what is going on in your life.. but I’m impressed that you’ll really hike the PCT..you know I also loved the book but I could never do this but I’d love to read more about your preparations and I cannot wait to read the full article (or book 😉 ) after you hiked the PCT. I wish you all the best for this plan, I can totally understand that you are hiking this trail 🙂

    • anto

      Hi dear. I know, I have been such a poor friend. I may come to Hamburg so hope to see you there. Haha I will hopefully write a book one day, it has always been a dream so who knows. Maybe it’s about the extraordinary adventures of Anto. Thanks so much for your wishes, much appreciated!

  • Serena

    I’m really proud of you for doing this.
    I’ve watched the movie (while flying to Seattle last year btw) and it was really touching and also amazing. That’s a brave experience to do… but I’m sure you’ll have all the skills and the guts to achieve it.
    You are strong.
    Being strong doesn’t mean never crumbling down or never crying. It means keeping going on in spite of what makes you cry. And it means choosing what makes you feel well and accomplished, no matter what. So this is definitely the best moment to try this.
    Hugs – and Anto first

    • anto

      Thanks dear! I love your encouraging words. I’m trying to convince myself I can actually do this and deep inside I know I will do this on my own, but then again, there are so many things that can go wrong that occupy my mind. And agreed, I know that keeping on trying means being strong, I tell myself that every day that it’s OK to cry and that it’s not OK to pretend I’m fine just 3 months after the break up. However everyone is moving on so fast in their lives these days, that it’s almost like they expect you to recover and move on. But that’s OK. those people are not real friends anyway. It’s just difficult sometimes to keep up to their expectations. Love you !!

  • De Wandelgek

    This is great to look forward to! I saw Wild a few years ago and was amazed by the beauty of the landscape. A year ago I also saw the revenant which was filmed mostly in north west us. That was very impressive too. It’s rugged and I think much less populated than most other parts of the us.
    Oh and don’t bother about that so-called president, who thinks he speaks in name of the whole country. Wishfull thinking I guess
    I hope there’ll be lots of great photographs to come.
    Some tips:
    I used to navigate a lot on compass (learned that as aan scout) button it is also possible to use a wristwatch and the position of the Sun. Not a digital one with only numbers though.
    And don’t use undersized shoes

    Have lots of fun

    • anto

      Yes, the landscape is gorgeous. And they didn’t even show Washington because Cheryl Strayed never walked there. I will definitely have to figure out how to navigate but I think I may just use my Suunto and charge it with a solar charger. Assuming that I will have some sunlight each day. I heard that the trail is well marked and well paved so it’s hard to go wrong, unless there is snow, but I want to avoid that as much as possible as I’m not very good in snow and don’t really want to cross snowfields when I’m by myself and don’t know where the next person is. I definitely won’t use undersized shoes haha, I walked the EBC trek on almost new ones and if I can’t find a sponsor, those will most likely come along with me… or maybe I’ll choose low shoes instead of ankle high ones (just like the guys in the movie) but it depends on which part of the trek I’ll be doing. will keep you posted!

  • Geri

    I wish you all well both in preparations and during the hike. I really look forward to following you in this big project.

  • Touring tubby

    Hey Anto, great read. It confirms that you are a crazy Dutchie, as I have always said, but I am so envious, it will be a terrific challenge & a life changing experience. The video you attached was very inspiring & explains so much. It crystalizes the reasons we are drawn to adventure into these natural environments, the inner peace we find and the realization that life starts to make sense at the most basic level. I look forward to following you as you embark upon this new challenge⛺️

    • anto

      Thank you!! I know, I’m totally crazy, right? That happens when you get stuck with some Ozzies in a mountain hut in Tasmania. I loved that video, have watched it over and over and love the variety in landscape. I envy you guys for going to do all these amazing hikes in New Zealand soon, I’m sure you will have a blast and trust me, you will love it. I hope to see you in May, it would be great if we could catch up at some point!

  • Marlies

    Wow This is going to be life changing. I wish I had the guts to do the walk. I can’t wait to read more about your adventure. Good luck with the preparations! 🙂

  • Kate

    Hi there. I live in Oregon and though I have not hiked PCT, I am positive it will be a great experience. The Pacific northwest has so much to offer and the natural beauty is beyond compare.
    I love that Alaska holds a place in your heart. I grew up there and go back every summer with my children so they can experience it as well. We always go somewhere we haven’t been before which makes it a great adventure every year.
    I’ll be following your preparations and ultimately your trip. If you need anything while you’re here, let me know!

    • anto

      Thanks for your reply! Whereabouts in Alaska did you grow up? It’s one of a kind place. I’m really looking forward to my PNW trip, it’s a place I’ve been wanting to go forever and now it’s finally coming true. I’ll definitely let you know, thanks for your kind offer!

  • Rosanne Luciana

    Good luck on section hiking the PCT! How long a stretch will you be doing? I’d have to say if you are carrying a 20k backpack, you are carrying too much. I haven’t done the PCT, but did spent almost 3 months thru hiking my own route around Tasmania and my packed weight was 11k, and up to 17k including 10 days worth of food. I don’t believe you will have such long stretches between resupply points on the PCT (but I could be wrong). Also, I was carrying quite a few luxuries which you can easily do without, especially on a shorter route. Tent wise I carried a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1, a great and strong little tent for 1 person, and just under 1k. Dont get anything heavier, in fact, you can go lighter if you’ll be happy to consider a tarp, or something made out of cuben fibre… Anyways, just my two cents!

    • anto

      That’s really awesome, especially because I know how rugged Tasmania is. Indeed, there will not be very long stretches and this spring I will look into the possibility to go lighter. Thanks for the suggestion for the tent, I will check that one out. Since it survived the weather in Tasmania, I’m sure it’ll also get through the PCT part. Where did you hike in Tassie btw? Super curious cos I loved it there!

      • Rosanne Luciana

        Yes, good luck getting all your gear sorted! I’m going through the name exercise myself again, this time for a much colder and windier climate, and it’s a struggle to get the weight down…
        Tasmania was amazing. I walked around the whole island, staying as close as possible to the coastline, so most of the walking I did was on the road, with smaller sections on the beach and a lot of lesser-used gravel roads. I did go into Freycinet national park which was beautiful, but very touristy and busy. The most exciting sections I walked was down the Western Explorers Road, which is just a gravel road, but there is absolutely nothing there, not even any phone signal, and I had to wild camp along the way. I later went through the Southwest national park. First I hiked the Port Davey Track, which was a bleak slug through mud, a wholesome dreary and hopeless experience, with no other hikers around. I did the South Coast track after that which was beautiful, and there were a lot more hikers, which was nice after all the nothingness.
        If you’re interested, I am currently writing everything down in a number of different blog posts on my own site. Have a look if you fancy!

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