PCT Hike, 2013

Pct-logo:: A quick description of the Pacific Crest Trail ::

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is approximately 2,650 miles long, and extends all the way from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. It travels along the higher points, or the crest, of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges and climbs nearly 60 major mountain passes, its highest being 13,153 ft. at Forester Pass in California. Many thru-hikers take the side trail up to Mt. Whitney, which is the highest point in the lower 48 states at 14,505 ft. (I plan to give this a try for sure!) In addition to several climbs and awesome mountain passes, it also descends into 19 major canyons, passes more than 1,000  lakes, traverses 3 national monuments, 7 national parks, 24 national forests and 33 federally mandated wildernesses. For someone like me attempting to thru-hike it? It’s a great big playground. :)

For more information on the Pacific Crest Trail, visit the PCTA.

:: How I decided to thru-hike the PCT ::

Since I finished hiking the ADT in 2006, I’ve probably thought about that hike in some way or another every single day. I jumped right back into my job and routine that I had before the hike as soon as I could when I got back, but from day one being back, I had always wanted to do something big like that again. I’ve managed to keep my wanderlust at bay by going on backpacking trips here and there, and I was even able to thru-hike the Tahoe Rim Trail in 2009. In 2011 I went with a group of great friends to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in Montana for a cross-country backpacking adventure that was totally satisfying and awesome in every way.

But I would still daydream of leaving life behind to live on a long trail and do another big thru-hike… one that I didn’t have enough vacation for. And I needed to get out of the office and spend most of my time outside, where I belonged. I loved my job, loved the company I worked for, and loved the people that worked there. Leaving would be hard, and at times I felt it would be impossible. Not just because of the paycheck, or benefits, or structure. Impossible because of the relationships I’d established there.

But it had to be done. I had to hike another long trail… but which one? And HOW?

After much thought, I secretly settled on the Pacific Crest Trail. I like how it’s kind of the “middle child” of the three big trails. The Appalachian Trail is pretty heavily hiked every year with several shelters, town stops, and (from what I hear) even toilets along the way. The Continental Divide Trail isn’t completely finished, and much more rugged and remote, which appeals to me… but the Pacific Crest Trail is right in between the two. It’s perfect. So I thought about it, dreamed about it, looked at photos online, dreamed some more — and then I’d head out for a weekend backpacking trip, hoping to hold it off a little bit more. Then it happened. My weekend excursions were no longer keeping my dreams at bay. I was being pulled – pulled HARD. I knew this feeling, and I knew it well. I had the same pull before I settled on the ADT. I didn’t quite know what that pull was back then, and it took me quite some time to figure it out. This time I knew. Right away.

However, there was one major piece of a PCT thru-hike I  needed to figure out to even make it a possibility. How do I include Adam (my husband) when he’s not a backpacker? He’s not a hiker. He’s not an outdoorsman. He’s what Jim Gaffigan (comedian) refers to himself as “Indoorsy.” My husband and I love each other with everything we are. He’s my best friend in the world, but we have completely different interests. The ADT hike, as amazing as it was – in all honesty – was quite a strain on our relationship. It was hard being away from each other for so long. We do best together with the more time we spend together. I vowed that if I ever did a long hike again, he’d be there in some way.

The Pacific Crest Trail

I knew I wouldn’t be able to convince him to hike with me. Well, I take that back — I’m pretty sure I could eventually convince him to do it FOR ME, because he’s that kind of awesome, giving guy. But it wouldn’t be right, and he wouldn’t enjoy himself. And I wouldn’t either. It had to be done in some unique, different way. Which is cool with us.

We started to talk. We both wanted something new, something adventurous and we wanted to be together through it all. I like backpacking. Adam likes driving. I like moving on two feet. He likes traveling on four wheels. He likes to help people. We both like to meet people. He’s helped me on hikes before, and always made a great support person. It started to sort of come together!

So after much discussion, we came up with a loose plan. He could drive along and act as my personal bounce box on four wheels. It will cost quite a bit more than your average PCT thru-hike, which comes in around $5,000 for the average hiker. We would have to add on at least double that for the cost of gas and vehicle maintenance, not to mention food and lodging for a second person.

We started to plan more, and then save. We moved from a large 2-bedroom apartment to a tiny 2-room studio apartment and got rid of a lot of “stuff.” Half-way through the year we started to realize that we were going to actually be able to pull this off! It was exciting.

We’ve got a few phases we are going through in the next five to six years, and this is just one of those phases – for me to thru-hike the PCT and have him there meeting me in towns along the way. We are really excited to start this journey.

Our next phase is to leave Wisconsin on March 22 to road-trip the country.

On April 22, a month later, Adam will drop me off on the Mexico/California border so I can begin hiking north toward Canada. 2,660-some-odd miles. It’s different every year due to potential detours from fires, snow, and sometimes even noxious weeds (stay AWAY, poodle-dog!)

After-Hike Phase :: In October, after I’m done thru-hiking the PCT, I go to school and earn my CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) and Adam and I  switch gears and drive a semi all over the country together as a team. It’s another thing we’ve both dreamed about, and we figured it would be a perfect transition. We are also very excited for this adventure! So much to look forward to!!

…and after that, who knows. Maybe I’ll work on that triple crown!

8 thoughts on “PCT Hike, 2013

  1. I can’t WAIT for you to go and experience this! I am so happy your husband is supportive and you guys are able to do this!!

    My fiancée and I had a wander urge too, and a volunteer urge, travel urge, backpack urge. Haha. We sold, donated and gave away all of our belongings in Dec 2012- and have been backpacking for 3 months through Iceland, United Kingdom, France, Switzerland. We are WWOOFing in France at the moment, its an organization where you volunteer on a farm, usually an organic one and they give you food and board in return. We’re nestled in the French Alps. I am by no means a hiker yet, but I dream and aspire to me. The PCT has nudged itself inside of me and I think of it consistently. I can NOT wait to follow you on your journey!

    • That’s awesome! Adam and I hope to start doing some volunteering after we’re done with our truck-driving phase of our plan. The truck-driving is a quick(ish) way to pay off all debt we have (mostly student loans). Then we’ll be free to hopefully travel around and jump in on some volunteer work.

  2. So glad you are getting to do this. We suscribed to your blog so we could keep up. What an awesome time you will have together/apart! Seriously, I can’t imagine you as a truck driver though!
    Best of luck and we’ll maybe respond to your blog here and there! Have a great journey!

  3. Best of luck to both of you! I thought the solution for including Adam was going to be an ATV with a karaoke machine on it so he could ride along singing “Eye of the Tiger” to you. Seriously though, I admire your decision to go out and grab life by the balls and squeeze. Life is truly too short to ignore what you desire and trudge along unfulfilled just so the bill collectors & taxman can get a piece fo your soul.
    I hope the truck driving part works out for you. I’ve been driving for the last 12 years and I’m hoping to get out soon before it’s too late to find something else. It isn’t the same as it was a decade ago. It used to be great money just sitting listening to music or audiobooks and seeing the sights. But the rules keep changing to where you are sitting more and driving less(which means less money in more time). More often I find myself looking at it like a time machine or an 18 wheeled cubicle. The weeks fly by and I’m only home about 2 days a week. I’ve got almost enough time to try and have a life before I get ready for the next week of work. Also from an active persons point of view, sitting all day long really sucks when it comes time to workout or play basketball or raquetball. Even hiking the trails at Devils Lake is getting harder every summer. After 12 years my knees, ankles and lower back are struggling to keep up with the rest of me. Even when you tell yourself that you’ll get out for a walk and stretch later there isn’t always a parking spot where you want it. Or maybe you have an hour to get to your destination but the road is closed because of an accident or if you push it the next 400 miles you “might” make it through Chicago before getting stuck in rush hour traffic. Not to mention the cost of trying to eat healthy on the road is ridiculous. Even with a fridge and microwave in my semi there is only so much you can do. But on the bright side you will be together all the time and there are a few occasions where I get shut down in some nice areas or go down to Georgia every week and avoid a lot of winter.(Of course there have been many more times where I have to sit overnight in the scary areas of Detroit or Chicago hoping nobody shoots at my truck) But one thing is for sure, there are always companies looking for OTR drivers.Some people are born to drive truck. I know a few that love it no matter what. With that said you never know until you try. It may be a great decision for both of you. :) Happy Trails!

  4. thanks disco pickle for suggesting to luke and ellie to make a weekly video! also, i enjoyed reading part of your site here….wishing you well on your continuing journey! – ellie’s mom

  5. Hi Robin this is Robin from Troutlake! I feel so lucky to have met you and Rachel. I have gone back and read your blog from the beginning. Every day I log on to see where you and Rachel are now and what you have seen. I hope the rest of your trip is wonderful and I hope your new adventure driving with your husband is just as exciting for you! If your travels take you back to Washington some day look us up. Take care and be safe. I’ll be following along I’m totally hooked!

  6. The other day I saw a big semi labeled Elite Big Truck training school (or something like that) and immediately thought of you and Adam!
    Today we dropped off GoalTech at Kennedy Meadows for his section hike on the PCT.

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