Three years ago I started my first long-distance backpacking trip–the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. It was supposed to be a transitional experience for me to go from the world of college to the world of jobs, work, responsibility, and so on. Sort of a last hurrah for my youth. Happily, it didn’t work out that way exactly.
Three years, seven temporary jobs, and over three thousand backpacking miles later I’m getting ready for the next really big backpacking trip. This spring through autumn I’ll be out for another three thousand backpacking miles between the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Long Trail.
While planning my first AT trip I expected it to be a way to switch my mindset from the cynicism I’d learned in college to something better. I wanted to reaffirm my independence, to prove that I could do anything I set my mind to, and to get into a world where people were focused on living rather than dreaming. Some of those wishes came true, some turned out to be misguided. The most important parts of the experience were unexpected (as all things tend to be), and the final outcome was quite different from what I’d hoped. Instead of getting the hiking itch out of my system, the AT only intensified it so instead of getting a steady job and residence I’ve structured my life around hiking.
Which brings me to my current goal. During a year at one job (an Americorps position, the longest I’ve ever held a job continuously) I planned to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, and the plan is slowly expanding to other trails as well.
My AT experience taught me so much, and I’ll be using those lessons on the next hike. I know things probably wont’ go exactly as planned, yet I can’t help but go into the planning of this trip with some expectations. As with the AT I expect to be more independent, to meet amazing people, to succeed in my goal of hiking the entire PCT. This time I also expect to be more competent and to be able to roll with the punches, be more flexible with my planning. If unforeseen opportunities present themselves, I hope I can take them without worrying about a schedule.
The hardest part, for now, will probably be the anticipation. I’m going to try to work on my planning just a little bit every day to keep my mind in the right path. And in case anyone is interested, I’ll go through the planning and preparations on this journal as well.