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RE: [pct-l] PCT thru-hike styles

Hi Katt,

The short answer is you're fine.  You already know to hike your own hike,
and that's really the best advice anyone can give you.  Go and discover the
rest yourself.

But some people really want to know in advance.  So here's my opinion.  The
PCT attracts the big-mileage crowd.  Yeah, we all love the flowers and the
views.  In fact, only those who LOVE the wilderness can persevere to the
end.  But a thru-hike is NOT a walk in the park.  2,600+ miles at 2 mph is
1,300+ hours on the trail.  That's a lot of flowers and a lot of views!
There's good days and bad; interesting sections and boring ones.  And even
if you're the kind of person who would love to go out this weekend and hike
the most boring section in the worst conditions, that doesn't change the
fact that during a thru-hike, that experience is going to be a low-point for
you.  How are you going to get through it?  Like it or not, for many people
the answer is hike through it to the point of exhaustion.  Then go to sleep,
get up and do it all over again.  I believe the same was probably true on
Greg Hummel's hike in '77, only with heavier packs the exhaustion point came
sooner.  Today a thru-hiker can blow off 100 miles in a 3-day funk.

But let's say you're different.  You want to finish the PCT AND go slowly
the whole way.  Who will you hike with?  The PCT experience is like a bar
hopping party.  When your friends move on, you have to choose.  Sure,
there's always someone else behind for you to meet, but living on the trail
is like history in reverse.  You only know about the people in front of you.
Trail registers only contain the comments of those ahead of you.  Those
behind you "don't exist."  It's surprising how many people think they're the
last thru-hiker on the trail.  And wouldn't it be nice to "catch up" with
the people who wrote such inspiring words in the registers?

And all this ignores the more negative factors.  Thru-hikers are by
definition goal oriented.  Many are also gearheads.  Just look at this list.
So there's an unofficial hierarchy that's hard to ignore.  Are the fastest
hikers with the lightest packs really "better" than anyone else?  Of course
not!  But they're hopping off to the next trail town.  Do you want to keep
up or wait and see who's behind you?

And there's always winter hanging over everyone's head like the sword of
Damocles.  Will you get to Washington only to face deep snow and closed
roads?  The fact is, every northbound PCT thru-hiker faces a choice: hike
through snow in the Sierra, or hike through snow in Washington, or hike
really fast in between.

I STILL say hike your own hike.

Brian Robinson
PCT '97

-----Original Message-----
From: Elizabeth A. Foshion [mailto:foshione@dteenergy.com]

In prepping for my own PCT thru-hike, I've been reading a lot of people's
online journals. One thing I keep seeing is an obsession with making
mileage, it seems to the exclusion of really enjoying all the trail has to
offer.Also, a couple of folks seem to have pushed themselves into injury,
exhaustion, and quitting.

Certainly I'm going to hike my own hike, but I've been envisioning stopping
to enjoy every cool view, water source, animal (bears excluded), sunset,
etc. that the trail has to offer - even if it means finishing the next year.

Any comments, especially from folks who've done the trail?


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