The importance of hiking at least 100 miles or a month if you can swing it is the best way to get a real decent understanding of what it’s like to hike over 1,000 miles.
In my first month on the PCT, I did about 250 miles. I will admit to skipping some miles due to various reasons; getting sleet rain and being unable to fix my blow-up pad, are just a few. I don’t believe skipping some mileage is that big of a deal and I won’t be making anyone feel like they aren’t a “true hiker” for hiking their own hike. I have learned so much that has helped me, between learning about gear and getting into my own groove, I found out a lot about myself. I was also reminded that this world is bound by society as long as their people around. This is still a man's world as long as there is a man around.
I did end up feeling as if I was getting stalked by an older man on trail who was hiking with me at one point. He had made me incredibly uncomfortable when he licked at me. That’s right. He LICKED AT ME like I was some sort of a dessert made just for him. I immediately informed my other hiking partner about how uncomfortable and unsafe I felt. We made a plan to try and separate, but it wasn’t until several days later that we got the opportunity to camp far enough away that he ended up passing us. I was literally running where I could on the trail, any chance I got. I still don’t know what ended up happening with that individual’s hike, all I know is that I stopped my involvement in it.
I did end up soaking myself in waist deep freezing cold Holcomb Creek, trying to get away. Luckily my pack didn't get wet, just most all of me, at 7:30pm. In March. The top picture is the night trying to warm up by the fire drying out most of my clothes. The one on the bottom is the mornings after attempt to dry my shoes and socks more. Truth me told, I should have just put them on and continued hiking with wet shoes. I had lost most of my body heat crossing that river, so I wanted to try and give myself the best chance on not losing more heat, even though moving makes you warm. I did have a huge problem in 2019 and 2020 trying to eat enough calories to sustain my level of output. Yay eating problems!!
When I started on February 22, 2019, I had made a list of why I was hiking the PCT to remind myself throughout the journey and to hopefully go as long as my “Bunk Bod” would let me. Bunk Bod is what I call my body as it starts to feel the damage I keep putting it through, with backpacking long distance. I have scoliosis and live with chronic pain, so in the end I learned that my dream of completing the PCT would be in magical sections. So I get to spread out the love, as they say. There are many things to enjoy about the pains of trail; no pain, no gain, right?
Later in my hike, I got the amazing chance to hike with Wet Socks, a solo female section hiker with beautiful dreams of completing Oregon. We started hiking together July 4th, together we were trying to outrun the massive amount of mosquitoes, failing, darting into a tent for lunch and longer breaks, and investing in 100% DEET when we finally made it to the next resupply point! Netting is not enough for those blood stealing devils!! Just wash your hands and don’t go swimming with it or sunscreen on, please.
When we eventually got to crater lake, she had hiked her first ever 100 miles, gazed upon the mountain we used to be using as a marker ahead, and became completely ecstatic about how she could literally see all her progress! She was beaming and I was incredibly inspired by her excitement and self accomplishment. There is true magic in seeing how far you can take yourself, and being able to experience that feeling through someone else, is extra special. That’s why I recommend doing at least 100 miles if you want to experience being a PCT hiker without investing too much time in doing so.
So, as spring and summer come upon us, I hope you plan to get outside and find some joy in doing so! Maybe you start with 10 miles, or 100. You don’t have to accomplish huge mileage to find magic, you just have to open yourself up to it. There is a saying we use, “the trail provides”. Get on trail and see what you need, even if you didn’t know you needed it!
Hope to see you outside!