A really long walk on the Pacific Crest Trail is what the summer and fall revolved around for our family. It has been a memorable experience for all of us, with many priceless lessons learned.
Tim set out over a year ago with plans to hike about half of the 2,650 miles of the PCT. Not really having any idea of what to expect once on the trail, except for what he had gleaned from the copious amounts of reading he had done about the PCT and long distance hiking. So, we bought gear, made camping reservations for the kids and I, figured out resupply points and approximate dates for meeting up, how to communicate with us while hiking, and countless other logistics in our attempts to reach his goal. Most of this was done before knowing about the high snowfall year (record setting in places), late snow melt, unforeseen foot problems, near record setting heat waves, wildfires galore, worsening sleep issues, and more homesickness than he had imagined.
One thing Tim has mentioned in hindsight, is that he would have planned this adventure much like how it actually turned out. Walking half the miles he had planned to, in the same amount of time. And he would have done more cherry-picking in order to hike “the most scenic” sections of trail during the best time of year!
Lessons learned from the trail…
It’s unforgiving on the feet, which slowed him down more than he had anticipated. He wore out 2 pair of hiking shoes and finished off a pair of hiking boots he picked up from a hiker box. His feet had blisters on top of blisters in the first 2 weeks on the trail. In hindsight, he realized that he may not have had these issues had he attempted this venture before his calluses from the steel mill wore off from being a stay-at-home dad.
Gorilla tape is superior to duct tape for all things long distance hiking. This became evident when trying to keep his shoes from tearing up his feet. And also attempting to keep the corners together of his (very used) tent.
Water is never hard to come by when hiking in last years “snow”, or as Tim puts it, ice in the mornings and slush by the afternoons. However, finding the trail is much more difficult in the snow, and worse when you’re one of the first through the area for the season.
When your already poor sleep quality is exaggerated while on the trail, his reading material helped pass the time. He was already an avid reader prior to this adventure, so he chose some classics to help pass the time while in the wilderness.
Homesickness was more apparent and at the forefront of much of his thoughts throughout his hike. He thought seeing the kids and I once a week or so would be enough to keep it at bay; however, it ended up leading to more breaks from the trail. And these breaks afforded us the opportunity to go on more adventures as a family and to really explore the places we were calling home along the way! Not to mention, we added six more National Park stamps in the kids passport books.
In the end, or maybe even the beginning, Tim knew he had no desire to be a thru-hiker. After spending the summer and fall on an epic long distance hike he realized the journey was about way more than the amount of miles he walked. All of the trials and joys he experienced on the trail were very much a part of the adventure. And what an adventure it has been!