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[pct-l] alternate routes

CharlieJones@aol.com wrote:

>As hikers, whether section- or thru-hikers, if we just choose a route >that 
>looks good on a map, but doesn't match the marked PCT, can we >really say 
>"I hiked the PCT?"
>In my book, I couldn't deny that such a hiker walked from Mexico to 
> >Canada, but because of the chosen route, I'd have trouble looking up to 
>him/her as one who "hiked the PCT."
>Your opinion probably varies. If you have a conflicting position, state it, 
>but I won't comment further.

Charlie -
Someone on another list recently 'accused' me of having "mellowed".  For 
better or worse, I think he may be right. So with that in mind -

I understand what you're saying - and why.  And I have less than zero 
interest in starting an AT-style flame war over this subject so this will 
likely be my only comment as well.  But I think you've overlooked a few 

The first is that the PCT guidebook details MANY alternate routes - some of 
which were at one time the PCT, some of which should be the PCT today.  In 
fact, many times the authors highly recommend the alternates rather than the 
"PCT".  I lost count of the times that we took the "PCT" rather than a 
recommended alternate route and afterwards looked back and wondered why we'd 
done something that stupid.

A good friend once said that anyone who was only gonna get one shot at a PCT 
thruhike and did the PCT rather than take the Eagle Creek Trail just wasn't 
too bright.  Yeah - he's done both - several times.

Fact is that we got spoiled on the CDT.  So there were several times on the 
PCT when we just said screw it and wandered off the PNCWT (Pacific 
Not-quite-on-the-Crest Wheelchair Trail) to bushwhack for a while.  After a 
while we'd feel like a real hikers again and we could get back on the 
"trail".  The PCT is 'easy' trail and, for the most part, conducive to 
mindless walking. If you walk like that on the CDT, you'll likely end up in 
Vermont or Florida. Sorry, Charlie - but I require more than that, so while 
I was a (relatively) good boy on the PCT, it won't happen again.

Last thing is personal - to me.  I don't go out there for anyone else's 
approval or so anyone will "look up" to me.  I go out there for me.  I go 
out there because there's a freedom to it that's not available in the 
'normal' world.  I go out there to learn, to grow, to explore the country 
and the people - and sometimes the inside of my own head and heart.  If any 
of that requires going "off-trail" or choosing "alternate routes" or 
"blue-blazing" or whatever - well, I just make sure "my" contract covers 
those variations.  But I don't, won't and wouldn't if I could dictate what 
your contract covers.

What I just said is that a thruhike is "freedom".  If you choose to limit 
your thruhike (and therefore your freedom) by limiting yourself to the "PCT" 
treadway, that is (as always) your choice. It is, after all, your time, your 
energy, your sweat -- your hike.  We all have the freedom to limit our own 
freedom in any way we want.  None of us have the right, the responsibility 
or the authority to limit anyone elses hike/freedom.  As someone once said - 
Hike your own hike.

As for us -- we hiked the CDT looking for a "unique" hike - and we got it - 
our way.  Likewise, we hiked the PCT - our way. If your way is different it 
won't make me unhappy - nor will it affect my attitude toward the trail, or 
the world -- or you.

Walk softly my friend -- your way,

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