Walk 2600 miles?
Who want’s to expose themselves to mountain lions, bears, Poodle Dog Brush, heat stroke, dehydration, corneal flash burns, extreme snowfalls, raging creeks, falling off a mountain and a higher risk of dying?
The people who do these long, multi month hikes are called “Thru Hikers”. You can read about them on the net and in books like ‘Wild”, “A Walk in the Woods” and “Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart”. They admit to the dangers. There are others.
Who enjoys filter their drinking water from creeks that cows and deer pee in; sleep on the ground exposed to rattlesnakes, rocks, and bugs; walk in the rain, sleet and snow; go days without a shower, a comfortable place to sit, or rest; eat only what they can carry on their back, mix with water and eat with a spork; dig a cat hole to take a dump, carry their used TP
around in their backpack, and dry out their stinky socks while they are tied to their chest?
My son and I have hiked a number of times. I understand the pleasure of being outside in nature, enjoying the vistas, smells of the forest, magic morning light, wonderful sunsets, night sky full of stars, and even meeting animals in the wild. But, I can get that 300 feet from my house, I don’t have to walk far to experience this.
My Son will start his thru hike of the PCT
on April 19. He plans on walking 2600 miles over 5 – 6 months.
He asked me if I was interested in joining him. I can’t imagine spending months away from my wife and home. Also, since I’m 73, have an artificial aortic heart valve and have limits of my discomfort, I declined.
I will also admit that I don’t understand what there is about thru hiking. He and I have hiked 30 miles with 35 pound packs on our back, climbed 14,000 ft mountains, woke up to sub-freezing temperatures, and dug our share of cat holes. I even tolerated a mountain goat a few feet away watching, waiting for me to finish.
But, the longest I have been out on a trail is three days. I knew that any discomfort would end soon. The discomfort of lost toenails, sore pack shoulders and three days of being dirty, sore, exhausted were enough for me. I looked forward to ice in my Dewars, a shower and real bed.
What drives PCT thru hikers? Are they nuts, crazy, thrill seekers, suicidal? We have had many conversations about it. I have read blogs, reports, books, watched V-logs and still do not understand.
When he asked me if I would be his cyber-base support assistant, I agreed. We talked about what message he wanted to communicate or write about. I suggested he help me answer the questions of ‘Why?” Why do these people do it?
The nature and thrills on the trail has been discussed, recorded, photographed and written many times. You can see many on this blog.
That I get.
What I don’t get is: ‘Why’?
I want him to help me answer that question.
If things go as planned, and they rarely do, future post on this blog may address that question.
Edited in April to post Adam’s response. You can read it at summitrounder.com