Sunday, December 13, 2009

Questions and answers about hiking the PCT

I gave a slide show last night of pictures from my solo hike. At the end, I opened it up to questions. Here are a few:

Were you lonely? Yes. But my loneliness was a good kind. I was lonely for my family and for the things I do in the community. It wasn't the alienated loneliness you feel in civilization.

Were you afraid? No, not really. What scares me are mean bosses and not being able to survive in civilization.

Did you have food cravings? Not really. I craved food, period. I laid waste to all you can eat buffets and satisfied all cravings in town, so on the trail, I didn't crave any particular food.

What was the best part of the trail, the part you would recommend to someone? It depends on what you like. If you like forests, hike Oregon and Washington. Otherwise, California has a great diversity from desert to the High Sierra. The prettiest is the Marble Mountains in California and the North Cascades.

The most amazing thing is getting to see the progression through biological zones. You go from desert to alpine as you go up in altitude. But you do the same as you go up in latitude, and seeing that at such a slow pace is the most amazing thing. In California, it's forest at 8000 feet, sub-alpine at 10,000 feet, alpine at 12,000 feet. In Washington, it's forest at 5,000 feet, sub-alpine at 6000 feet and alpine at 7000 feet.

Hiking a long trail like this really shows you your connection to the Earth. You know on a deep level where water comes from and how important it is to your life. You feel the tension between modern, civilized convenience and its devastating effect on the environment, and the privilege of being in nature. It's eye-opening.

Since hiking the trail, I no longer aspire to the kind of financial or career success I grew up believing I should. At the same time, I struggle with feeling like a failure. I hope I can resolve this conflict.

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