The journey to the start.
So how does an ordinary adventurer like me make the leap from escape-the-city weekend walks to spending approximately 150 days in the wilderness?
ooo the PCT!
You know those mates who you have a forever growing bucket list with, the ones you tag in whimsical Instagram photos, the one you’re definitely going to walk the Annapurna range with before or after your trans-Siberian railway trip? Well Claire is mine. She told me about the pct and like all incredibly fun sounding adventures we shared tid-bits of information we’d come across about it or shared photos we’d found, imagining that those were our dirty smiling faces at the terminus. For some reason though, this idea gained traction much faster and stronger than any other idea we’d had. At least with Claire It did, she fell down the rabbit hole first. You know the one i’m talking about - the gear lists, the vlogs, blogs, instas and podcasts. In my mind though, I was still struck on how much fun it would be if we could do it.
I’m thinking of hiking the PCT
I was fortunate enough to attend a 13 year reunion with by best friend group from school. We came together from all across the globe and met in Sri Lanka. It felt like we’d talked about getting together for years and here we were, sun on our faces, coconuts in our hands - back-to-basics bliss. It was here, in the comfort of our friendship that I felt brave enough to start talking about the idea of hiking the PCT more openly. Sounding it out and sharing my hopes.
The summer ended, and back in work I was. Before I realised it had happened, I fell well and truly down the rabbit hole I had previously only dared peer down. It really didn’t take long until any format of information on the PCT I could consume, I’d inhale. I went from gingerly saying I’m working towards hiking the pct to I am going to hike the PCT. I approached work about a sabbatical, I didn’t tell mum though, not yet anyway. I started saying it out loud more often in front of people! The more I talked about it the more I believed myself, i was convinced.
I’m going to hike the PCT.
As I slowly grow more convinced mentally, I am not free to walk in the wild just yet. I need a permit, visa and potentially a sabbatical!
I’ve written about the permit process here.
We were still not ready to start our PCT journey just yet. The stress of going into the permit process without a plan left me shattered to be honest. I’d painted this big picture in my mind of all of us starting together, eager and nervous the night before at Scout and Frodo’s. Yet in reality we were weeks away from each other, three of us were too early to stay at the legendary Trail Angel’s place!
I was also slowly grappling with the idea of quitting my job too. I had built my career up over the last 6 years from apprentice to manager but felt like I’d hit the end of my career path. The idea of stepping out into the wilderness for months then returning to the same thing made me feel claustrophobic. If I was going to take this leap, I might as well jump in with two feet right? I put on my big girl shoes and went in with terms to negotiate my sabbatical. I wanted to see certain changes happen before I agreed to come back if I was going to come back. I battled it out in work for a month or so but by January I said my piece and handed in my notice.
I’m doing it, I’m really doing it!
Family and colleagues ask how will I leave my comforts, my loved ones, societal expectations (job, house, career etc) to go galavanting in the back country?
Well, I’m not I don’t think. I’m taking time and making space in my life for what I want. I don’t think I’m leaving my comforts, I’m redefining them (camp life ftw!). I don’t think i’m leaving my loved ones, i’ll be carrying them with me (thank you WhatsApp!) and more importantly, they’re carrying me with their continued support. I quit my job. I did it because I have no work life balance. So here I am trying to tip the scales back to the status quo - my big aim for when I finish will be to be able to navigate a more balanced life.
I’m not even on the trail yet and I feel exhausted with all the decisions I’ve had to make, but happy that I’ve made them. I feel more confident having faced up to and navigated these difficult situations. I feel like I’ve been let down and bounced back, I feel like I’m ready to see what the trail has to throw at me! I feel happy.
Bring it on.