Pacific Crest Trail: Act 2

PCT sign post

Pacific Crest Trail: Act 2. In 2019 I attempted to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail.  I failed.  After 2000 miles I threw in the towel. I think about my failure to complete my thru-hiking goal every single day.  Every. Single. Day.    The goal was completion of the entire 2652 miles in a single hiking season.  Don’t get me wrong, hiking 2000+ miles was amazing, spectacular, incredible and challenging, humbling and awe inspiring, all at the same time.  I’m grateful for the opportunity that I was given to hike, yet, it wasn’t the “completion” that I sought. Professionally, my perseverance was both my greatest strength and my greatest weakness. Time will tell what the dividend will be on my attempt to finish hiking the entire PCT.

One of the hikers we met at the Southern border, VFat, kindly game me a PCT book last year. Honestly, I haven’t even cracked it open. I’ve pretty much been avoiding all things PCT related since I stopped hiking. It’s just kind of a open, festering wound. I haven’t watched thru-hiking videos. I haven’t even sorted all the pictures I took in 2019, and I took thousands of pictures!

In April 2020 the PCTA requested that the thru-hikers that were already hiking, quickly exit the trail and go home.  Hikers that hadn’t started the trail, like me, were requested to stay home and not hike in 2020.  I had a 2020 permit, but I never even got around to printing it out.

Pacific Crest Trail:  Act 2
2019 last day of hiking

So here I am in 2021.  Once again I have a permit to section hike about 650 miles of the PCT.  This time the goal is to complete the missing miles from 2019. We’ll be hiking south from Old Station California to Kennedy Meadows South California.  When we begin hiking today, I will be starting my hike Southbound from the exact same location I resumed my hike Northbound in 2019…to the exact date. Serendipity indeed. (The website may tell you I resumed hiking on July 6th 2019 but my notes tell me it was July 1st.)

When we began hiking in 2019 I somewhat recognized the precarious nature of embarking on a multi-month adventure when our parents were experiencing age related ailments.  Since that time Noelle’s dad has passed away, we moved my mom into an Alzheimer’s care facility and my dad into an Assisted living facility.

In 2019 I was concerned with the logistics of hiking the trail.  Food, shelter, water, trail town transportation, health care.  In 2021 I recognize that with a little planning, but not too much, these things will somewhat sort themselves out.  I met other hikers in 2019 that paid little to no attention to logistics and counted on the “trail providing”. To each their own I suppose.

What I recognize today, that I didn’t understand when I began hiking in 2019, is the harsh reality of the trail.  Many, perhaps most, thru-hikers will fail in their quest of a single season end to end PCT thru-hike.  Some will remove themselves from the trail through their own foolishness, hiking too hard, too fast, resulting in injury.  Others will run out of funds or quit from boredom.  Some will need to return to a job, to a new job, college, children, husbands and wives, girlfriends and boyfriends.

It’s the missing gap in the middle that haunts me!

Yet, the unexpected harsh reality is the events that remove hikers from the trail due to no fault of their own.  A family emergency, a twisted ankle from a rock that shifted the wrong way after 500 other hikers walked safely across it, a blown knee from too many down hills, a falling tree. 

So here I stand on the cusp of trying another long distance hike, not really sure if fate will smile down upon my attempt this year. Perhaps that, that being fate, is one of my key learning items from 2019. It’s just a total crap shoot. Plan, prepare, be flexible, mitigate risk. Frankly, I feel less physically prepared for long distance backpacking in 2021 than I did in 2019. Knowing that I backpacked 2000 miles in 2019 is nice, but it really doesn’t mean too much in 2021. Pacific Crest Trail: Act 2 – it’s a new year and the scoreboard is almost bare. (Anyone who says luck doesn’t play a part in a successful thru-hike is full of beans!)

I’ve been busting my chops generating content for our YouTube channel. I think we have enough content generated for the next few months. We’d love it if you’d swing by and take a look at our Patreon content!

So, enough talking, let get hiking.  I hope that you’ll follow along with our journey once again.

10 Comments

  1. Heidi Halverson

    Fail is a harsh word. I don’t like it in this context because you succeeded when you took the first step. The first step and getting to that first step that time and this time are major major achievements that you should take pride in. The term “fail”may motivate you but I don’t think it is accurate.

    Just like calling leaving Hitachi “quitting” is inaccurate because it obscurs the bravery it takes to choose a new path. And in this case start a new path. There is a reason most people don’t make these choices, and it’s not because they are right and you are wrong, it is more because they cannot find the courage to listen to their heart and you can. Happy Trails to you both!

    Reply
    • mcgarveysan

      In the end, I’m not amazed that I’m hiking the PCT. Not really. I’m amazed, and incredibly proud, that I found the courage to attempt to completely change the direction of my life and step onto a new path.

      Reply
  2. Karen E Huck

    You’ll do it I have great faith! You’ll do it because you want it so bad.

    Reply
  3. Hat Creek Harry

    Most excellent karma regardless of outcome.

    BTW, Snickers and I are having a wonderful time with Cupcake here in Guadalajara.

    Reply
    • mcgarveysan

      Hopefully you’ll slap some travel stickers on Cupcake during your exploration!

      Reply
  4. Matt

    Good luck and safe travels. Hope you are able to complete the trail this summer. Looking forward to following your adventures again.

    Reply
    • mcgarveysan

      Thanks! I have high hopes for completion this year!

      Reply
  5. Ian

    Glad to have you back! What a beautiful part of the trail you have to look forward to!

    Reply
    • mcgarveysan

      I am SO excited! Everyone keeps telling us how amazing it is!

      Reply

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