Today, I finally made the decision. I’m going to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail. What on earth does that imply? And why would one want to do something like this?
- This year, I will attempt walking a daunting 2600 miles through California, Oregon and Washington. Starting late April in Campo, near the Mexican border and hopefully ending in Manning Park, at the Canadian border, approximately 5 months later.
- Thru-hiking means that you walk the whole trail in one attempt. Some people are section walkers, and walking the trail in sections. This can take years, or maybe a lifetime. My goal is to go for it and go for it all the way.
I’ve dreamt about hiking this trail for years.
I would picture myself, one day, walking on that magical trail. But staying in the dream is safe, sitting on my couch in the living room. On that couch, you cannot fail, you cannot fall, you cannot lose. But dreaming is not living. Dreaming exist only in your mind.
15 years ago, when I first heard of the PCT, not so much information was available. Now, luckily for me it’s a whole different story. From 1951 until today, only 2.925 people have thru-hiked the PCT. For comparison, according to Time magazine, more than 3.500 have climbed Mount Everest! Some of the 2.925 thru-hikers have been writing blogs about their trail, and provided a lot of information on planning. What do you eat on trail, what gear should you take? Which are the best places to send your food boxes, where is it necessary to hide your food in bear boxes to and when is the best time to start?
Every braincell screams that this is not a wise decision.
Having just about enough money to make it through 5 months of walking and when I come back home I will be on zero, I tell myself I should spend the money more ‘wisely’, stay safely at home here, teaching my classes and spending more time in the yoga and tantra community. Why on earth would someone who hasn’t taken on something major like this wanna go walking for 5 months straight on? Through the flaming hot Mojave dessert, alpine terrain, snowy mountains and the damp woods of Washington, crossing wild rivers, encountering rattlesnakes, mountain lions and even bears? Risking getting injured, or worse. Walking through wilderness, in areas so remote that help will undoubtedly come too late (sorry mum). Why risk all that? Why spending all the money I own? Why give up all my jobs here in the city (hopefully my clients want me back when I return)?
My teacher Alex Vartman once said: when you feel uncomfortable, when you’re experiencing unease and discomfort, the learning process starts. Here you grow. There is no certainty in life. Whatsoever. Everything we think is certain, well, look again. You have a job? You might get fired or the company will become bankrupt. You have a partner? Well, he or she might leave you. You have a house? Well… And the list goes on and on. Don’t rely on material stuff. On other people’s opinions. Listen to the inner voice, your intuition. And follow it, whatever happens.
I’ve learned that everything in life is changing. And that there is no such thing as certainty. That’s the only truth, the only constant.
By giving up all my certainties (a huge spiritual practice because it’s scary) and feeling as if I have no ground below my feet finally there is room to be free, to be alive. There’s room to really live. And where can you do that better than being in Nature?