My son recently flew from his home in San Diego to Vancouver Canada, to catch a cruise ship to Alaska. After landing, he commented: Do you realize I just flew the entire PCT in one day? I started thinking – what if you could experience the PCT in a single day? What might the trail journal look like? Below is my fantasy version of that journal.
Post 1: The Decision
Dissatisfied with my job’s lack of meaningful purpose, I quit my fellowship at the Children’s Cancer Research Center and join the PCTA. I figure it is about time I start supporting our local schools.
Post 2: Planning
I begin researching the Pacific Crest Trail. I quickly read Yogi’s Handbook, I Promise Not To Suffer, Blistered Kind of Love, The Cactus Eaters and of course Wild. I don’t actually read these books, just the titles. They came back as part of a Google search, which frankly now seems overwhelming.
Post 3 : Picking My Gear
I fully embrace the ultra-light Ray-way of bringing only what I need. This contradicts everything else I read about the PCT. Struggling, suffering, learning and abandoning are the main themes in every book. With all the great gear list available, I wonder why I can’t simply start out with the right gear. I mention this to my publisher, who says I am a complete idiot and that I am going to ruin everything. Resigned, I locate my ULA Circuit backpack and strap on a cot, a lawn chair and a chest of drawers.
Post 3 : My Resupply Strategy
I cannot decide if I should ship supplies ahead, or shop along the way. I decide to combine strategies, so I ship ahead my shopping lists.
Post 4: Cooking Challenge
I struggle with my soda-can alcohol stove. Despite its name, I cannot light the light beer, but ironically the hard cider lights easily.
Post 5: The Monotony
Over time, I begin to tire of my food selection. Bite after bite after bite, the monotony is killing me. Did I mention the monotony? What am I thinking when I cook an entire packet of oatmeal?
Post 6: Water
I totally obsess with water rationing until I remember that, in the scorching desert heat, it is better to use your water than to carry it. In retrospect, I probably should not use it to rinse out my ExOfficio sports briefs, but I really want to see their amazing quick drying action.
Post 7: Hunger and Emotion
I feel like I am surviving solely on Snickers bars. I must have eaten 3 fun-sized already. My emotional ups and downs are taking their toll. Clearly some of the fun-sized bars are more fun than others.
Post 8: Dirty Girls
My Dirty Girl Gaiters seem to be working out great. In fact, I have not gotten a single rock in my Slutty Girl Pumps.
Post 9: Desperation
I become so thirsty that I drink both the A and the B bottles of Aquamira. Before you judge, let me say I throughly mix them in my mouth before swallowing.
Post 10: Trail Magic
Today I experience my first trail magic. Actually, it is more like a magic trick. The cooler is full of nothing but off-brand sodas. Come on Angels, I’m thirsty, but I am not that thirsty.
Post 11: Trail Names
Today I meet another thru-hiker and we become lifelong friends. We give each other trail names. His is WaitUp. Mine is StopFollowingMe. We decide to try hiking solo.
Post 12: Leave No Trace
On this tortuous soul searching journey, I attempt to rationalize my existence in a way that leaves absolutely no trace of me. In an act of bold defiance, I declare my existence by throwing a fun-sized wrapper on the trail, which in a rush of guilt I quickly retrieve. In my second attempt, I focus on recalling words to TV theme songs from my childhood. Based on the results, I continue to doubt my existence.
Post 13: The Bounce Box
I drop my bounce box, but it doesn’t. My Skittles and Ibuprofen are now completely mixed. Rather than sort them, I place them in my titanium cup, add Nido and olive oil, then eat them for lunch.
Post 14: Crying Out Loud
While approaching the saddle of a brutal pass, I begin hearing uncontrollable sobbing in the distance. As I slow, I realize the crying is much closer than I thought. In fact, it is coming from me.
Post 15: Shoe’t
My foot gear strategy is working better than expected. I only have one hot spot – my feet. Along a ridge crest, I blow out the heel on one of my pumps. I sit cursing my luck. This pathetically unbelievable story is made even more so when I throw both pumps off a cliff. I continue on barefoot. Wild.
Post 16: Weather
Today it starts to gently rain. It feels cool on my face. Slowly the rain turns to sleet, then hail, then snow, and then back to pelting hail. The trail floods. Locusts appear, followed by frogs and then some type of rodent borne plague. The emerging misty rainbow, however, looks absolutely stunning.
Entry 17: Trail Journals
I pore over trail journals, lapping up the amazing adventures and bear sightings of other thru-hikers. I can’t help noticing that I am never mentioned in these journals. I continue to question my existence.
Entry 18: The Wedding
I can’t stop thinking about the wedding. Should I risk leaving the trail? Will they forgive me if I don’t? I obsess about the wedding cake and endless buffet. I finally decide to go. Now I just have to find someone to invite me to a wedding.
Post 19: The Monument
At last. The PCT Monument appears in the distance. My emotions take on a physical form. I am bawling. I see the metal fence. I begin bawling even more. Monument 78. The one at the Canadian border. It doesn’t have a metal fence. I am actually standing at the southern terminus in Campo.
Post 20: Reflection
My reemergence into society is harder than I thought. The friends that un-friended me during my journey seem unwilling to re-friend me. I hope it is not too late to ask for my job back. After all, I did quit only yesterday.