I’ve found that my life has themes. One of those is long-distance either in length or time. From swimming the longest event in high school to a wonderfully long marriage to a challenging long career with the same company to running 10 marathons, including Boston, my life contains this “long” theme. So I’m starting this blog to record my newest pursuit of long-distance hiking. So here goes!
Based upon my running “contract”.
- Start the race (get to the course healthy)
- Finish the race (do not DNF)
- Run the entire race (no walking, sitting, etc.)
- Achieve a personal record (PR).
From the Spirit Eagle website: The Spirit Eagle 2009 contract isn’t complicated – it still only has 5 points. And it reads like this:
- We’ll walk from the Mexican border to the Canadian border.
- We’ll maximize our time-on-trail. For the PCT, this means a minimum of 5 months to complete the hike.
- We’ll see the country, meet the people and learn whatever lessons God has to teach us.
- We’ll walk the mountains and the wilderness as much as possible – and “roadwalk” as little as possible. But we’ll also take some of the “alternate routes” that we did not take the last time we hiked the PCT.
- Finishing the Trail is important, but not nearly as important as enjoying the Trail. If the push to finish gets in the way, we’ll re-examine what we’re doing and why. If necessary, we’ll take 2 years to finish rather than compromise on points 1, 3 and 4.
I think I need my own hiking “contract”.
- Get to the hiking start point (PCT, Campo, CA on US-Mexico border).
- See the country along the trail, meet the people on the trail, and learn new things before. during and after the trail.
- Be safe, follow the rules and etiquette of the trail, and thank those who provide help and assistance along the trail.
- Get to the hiking end point (PCT, Manning Park, BC on US-Canada border).
- Hike the entire trail (PCT, from Mexico to Canada or vice versa, no yellow-blazing, i.e., hitchhiking or riding around large sections of the Trail, in other words, stay on the official trail, no flips, no skips, no alternate routes)
- Hike the trail in one season (PCT, if and where possible barring safety issues such as forest fires from April to October).
Well I finally bought my pack – a Gossamer Gear Mariposa. It weighs 1 lb 12 oz. Now I need to put some dead weight in it and try it out. So I stuffed in two heavy foam pillows each weighing 4 lbs as ballast.
Walked the Austin Lady Bird Lake trail today (10 miles) in 2:47 for a pace of 16:42 min/mile or 3.6 mph.
Update 9/6: To paraphrase and simplify a military creed about one’s rifle: “This is my pack. There are many like it, but this one is mine. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me my pack is useless. Without my pack I am useless.”
I’ve been thinking about why I want to hike the PCT. On The Story podcast today there was a 1991 interview by Studs Terkel of Gore Vidal who said “There is no purpose to life, there is no point to life, other than what you invest with yourself, by your own actions.” So through my actions I hope to show others, especially my children, who I am by what I do and how I live my life. It is to them and their descendants that I wish to take this action so they may know the type of person I was.
I’ve just finished my first week of training for my PCT hike. I bought my pack, loaded it with dead weight (the pack and two dense foam pillows for a total of ten pounds), and hiked around town each morning on flats, hills and trails. So instead of running as I normally did in the past years I now hiked with my pack and will continue until I start the PCT. My plan is to increase each week the weight (up to 35 lbs.) and distance (up to 80 mi.) along with adding in camping, cooking, etc. I also plan on going to State parks (Colorado Bend & Lost Maples) and National parks (Big Bend) over time to put it all together.
- Saturday – 10.3 mi – Lady Bird Lake Trail (flat)
- Sunday – 4.9 mi – Steiner Ranch Trail with “Crack of Dawn” Hiker meet-up (rocky)
- Monday – 4.4 mi – Wells Branch Trail (flat)
- Tuesday – 6.2 mi – 3 loops of Mt Bonnell (hills)
- Wednesday – 6.0 mi – Wells Branch Trail (flat)
- Thursday – 7.5 mi – 3 loops of Ladera Norte (hills)
- Friday – off
For a total of 39.3 miles and no problems adjusting so far.