323 miles. That’s the total distance it takes to hike along the PCT from Mount Shasta, CA to Crater lake, OR. We’ve got 31 days and nothing but our legs and what’s in our packs to get us there.
Leaving it all behind to go live in the wilderness for a month wasn’t a decision we made lightly. Doing this meant that we would be saying goodbye to our friends, our cozy beds, and our “normal” adult responsibilities. And more permanently, we would be giving up our careers and our paychecks.
With that being said, why choose to hike the Pacific Crest Trail now? What makes two people give up a position of certainty and stability to spend a month living in a tent and backpacking through the wilderness?
To Uncover My Passion
One of the hardest things for me to do in life has been to figure out what it is that I am truly passionate about. Everything I’ve read tells me to make a career out of doing what I love, but nothing tells me how to actually uncover what it is that I would love to do for the rest of my life.
My solution: Simplify the process.
Our lives are cluttered with wants and excess to the point that it becomes difficult to see what really has any meaning. We are constantly being told that there’s something new to try or that what we have isn’t quite good enough.
Hiking the PCT will give me the opportunity to drown out all that noise and strip life down to nothing but the bare necessities. Fresh air, water, shelter and food – that’s all I really need. From there, I’ll have a chance to find out what’s valuable and what really matters to me; where I should really be spending my time and energy.
Couple that with more than enough time clear my mind and free my thoughts and I think I’ve got everything I need to get a little clearer on what it is that will bring passion and fulfillment to my life.
Live in the Moment
I’ve been told time and time again that life is about living in the moment, but that doesn’t make it any easier to do it.
“The only time you ever have in which to learn anything or see anything or feel anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. You’re only here now; you’re only alive in this moment.” – Jon Kabat-Zin
We spend so much time contemplating the future and thinking about the past that we forget that what really matters is happening right here, right now.
On the PCT, I’ll have no obligations other than to live in the present and experience each moment as it occurs. It’s something I’ve experienced on day hikes and weekend backpacking trips, but then manage to lose grasp of as soon as I return to the buzz of day-to-day life in the city.
Just like any other skill, learning to live in the moment is something that must be practiced. A multi-week trip into the stillness of the forest is the perfect opportunity to do so.
Develop a Greater Connection with the Earth
It supports us and it gives us life. The Earth is an amazing thing. Unfortunately, we’ve gotten in the habit of seeing ourselves as separate from the Earth we live on.
We live in cities with more concrete than trees. We spend the majority of our lives indoors, behind desks, separate from the world around us. Here, we can control the elements and our surroundings. For the most part, we’re in charge.
On the PCT, the Earth is in charge. It will be a humbling experience to spend weeks outside with the inability to control Mother Nature and to learn where I actually sit on the food chain.
Learning to live amongst the trees, mountains, rivers and animals will be an experience unmatched by anything I’ve done before. Whatever challenges it brings, they’re ones I look forward to.
In the end, the Earth is our home and I believe we should do our best to connect with it and learn more about it.
Saying ‘YES’ to What You Really Want in Life
The decision wasn’t easy by any means, but it is exactly what I want from my life at this time. All it took was the courage to say ‘Yes’ and a little faith that everything would work out in the end.
As the days inch closer and the reality of my situation starts to set in, I’ve had a few bouts of second guessing myself, but something I’ve come to value more than anything else is that little voice inside my head telling me to “go for it” and reassuring me that this is the right decision.
The way I see it, you can always find a reason not to do something. There will always be an excuse if you want one. You can always say you’re waiting for a more convenient time, but the one thing I’ve learned is that the timing is never going to be perfect.
If it’s something you really want and it feels right, then go for it. The best time to do anything is right now!