Saturday, December 29, 2012

PCT Preparation

Climbing: It comes and goes in spells of motivation, consuming all of my time and thoughts, then drifting away with the rain, my busy schedule, injuries, and lately, my priority to hike the PCT. Then it comes back with a fury! I will often go through a month of training, on my own, three to five days a week, climbing outside, getting psyched, eating protein, stop drinking beer, eat healthier, and sleeping 8+ hours a night. And if I'm not climbing, then I watch people climb - aside from actual climbing, I don't know of a better way to get good at climbing than to watch people climb.

However, of late, my mind has been consumed by one giant task: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

(Kinda looks like a climbing topo, huh?)
April, 2013, Jen and I will soon be far away, on top of a mountain, crossing some creek, or tramping through some forest, slowly making our way from Mexico to Canada. On the PCT, Jen and I will be trudging through snow, poison oak, heat, mosquitoes, rain, freezing cold temperatures, and the highest altitudes in the continental 48. We are embarking on one of the toughest and most enduring challenges either of us have ever faced. And I've never been more excited!

This will truly be a climb of a lifetime! And I call it a climb because that's what it is. (Actually, it will be thousands of climbs, summits, and descents, all within one giant climb northward) And, although the PCT does not require climbing shoes, chalk, or a rope, it will require everything else I've got in my bag O' tricks.

A really tough boulder problem requires a high amount of strength, power, and skill, but only lasts a minute, if that. Climbing El Cap required weeks of planning, technical abilities, and a confident head, but flew by in just a few days. Driving to Alaska, Jen was spontaneous, adventurous, and stepped a little out of her comfort zone. The PCT, however, is an entirely different animal; the focus and energy required to tame it is nearly overwhelming. Luckily, Jen and I have wrestled our fair share of animals!

I believe that how you do something is how you do everything. I know that we will complete the PCT, because we have what it takes and we've already been through the same sort of things: College wrestling, years of backpacking, driving to Alaska, a lifetime of climbing, finishing college, moving to new cities, traveling to the South Pacific, and everything else we have ever done in our lives has led us to this trip. How we have completed all of these things in our lives is how we will complete the PCT; it's the way we live and the habits we've developed over the years. Aside from death by bear, hypothermia, drowning, or falling off a mountain, the only things that might hold us back are injury or lack of money. Because those are the two most common reasons for quitting the PCT, I am doing two things right now: beginning some physical therapy for my legs and trying to do some fund raising.

The task of getting everything in order seems kind of astronomical at the moment. Aside from raising money and staying healthy, we have to get the right shoes, figure out where we will resupply, buy a tent, maps, new clothes for all different seasons and conditions, get permits, put things in storage, buy plane tickets, find the right backpack, know the water conditions for the So. Cal section, know the snow level and water flow for the Sierras, move out of our houses and put everything in storage, pre-pack most of our food, and a bunch of stuff I can't even think of right now... And we haven't even started hiking yet!

In other words, we have so much to do between now and April 25th, and we need your help! If you or someone you know has the ability and desire to help us on our journey we would be forever grateful, and are always in the business of paying it forward! Below you will find a link to make a monetary donation, or, if you wish, we would love to hear about recent adventures you've been on, any helpful advice from other thru-hikers, or just words of encouragement. In addition, make sure to leave your address if you decide to donate - we like to send things to people! Anything you can give would be much appreciated! (We'll try our best to finish)   

What is the PCT all about?
(Well, it will basically look like this - minus the car.... and the picnic table... and the fire pit)

The PCT ascends California, Oregon, and Washington along the Sierra and Cascade mountain ranges, spanning roughly 2650 miles over the course of five months. Our hike will begin near the end of April and - cross our fingers - end before October 1st. In order to complete the trail we will need to hike about 21+ miles/day on average, and take no more than 30 "zero" days if we are to beat the snow in Northern Washington. (A zero day is a day where we make no northern progress - 0 miles. AKA burgers, beer, laundry, more food, and shower days!)

During the hike we are planning on taking a quick stop at the top of the highest mountain in the lower 48 (Mt. Whitney), dropping into Yosemite Valley to check out El Cap and Half Dome, take a quick and much much much anticipated detour to see Phish play at the Gorge Amphitheater, attend a wedding, and see our friends and family all along the way! We will see bears, cross rivers, sleep under the stars, get bitten by lots of nasty things, hitch-hike, eat a lot of food (6000 calories a day), hike in some of the most stunning places in the world, and meet some of the most amazing people along the way. But, we aren't just doing this because we like to be outside, climbing stuff.

This endeavor is more than just a trail. It marks one of the toughest transitions I will make in my life. Jen and I will be moving to Bend immediately following the hike, leaving our jobs, friends and family, and a much loved community of climbers and coffee makers. Although, the move is a very tough decision for us, we believe it is the right step for us to take.

My goal, following the hike, is to work within the climbing community in Bend, either guiding, setting routes, coaching, working for Metolius, or starting my own thing; it is yet to be determined! What is determined is my motivation to get outside on some dirty welded tuft! I want to take my climbing to another level and I'm running out of dry, unclimbed rock down here. Jen plans to find a fun place to work and eventually begin going to school. (I think she could find some work being a photographer! Maybe modeling??) Either way, we are looking to have some fun, meet new people, climb a lot, get outside, and change our lives a bit. And it all begins with the PCT!

If you would like to follow along on our adventure, we will be sending journal entries through the world wide web either on this blog or something similar (we have not decided yet). Also, Jen and I, both, really appreciate all of your support! And thank you, so much, if you choose to donate to help us out or lend us a hand in some other way. Thank you if you end up giving us a lift, mailing us a package, feeding us, or just giving us some words of encouragement! We really appreciate every little bit. The trail is a big task, and we can't do it alone.

They say on the PCT that "the trail provides." There are trail angels and something called "trail magic". There is an unseen power working its magic on the trail, providing food when least expected or a ride just before dark or a nice warm bed to sleep in when it's been pouring rain for days - I call it generosity or "paying if forward". Whatever it's called, I think it happens on and off the trail, all the time. You don't have to be a thru-hiker to make trail magic. You just have to make magic. whenever you want.

And I truly think that no matter what happens, everything will be okay. We won't starve, drown, get adult-napped, or mauled by a bear. Even if that did happen, things would be alright for someone, somewhere, on their own trail. Whether we make it or not, someone is making it. And it's all because of other people. Without others, there wouldn't even be a trail to walk.

So thanks again for all the magic out there, people!

Keep on climbing! (or hiking)