Pacific Crest Trail
Kilometers before the start
The Pacific Crest Trail is a 4,265 km long long-distance hiking trail in the west of the USA.
It runs through the states of California, Oregon and Washington.
Together with the Appalachian Trail (3,500 km) and the Continental Divide Trail (5,000 km), it is one of the Triple Crown hiking trails in the USA.
After watching the movie “Wild” a few years ago, I felt inspired and challenged. Inspiration turned into a wish, a wish into a will, and a will into a calendar entry for November 09, 2021. It’s “Permit Day” and the goal is to snag one of the coveted tickets to hike the PCT. In order to maintain control over movement on the PCT, a limited number of permits are issued by the PCT Association for the hike. Between March 01 and May 31, 50 hikers are allowed to start their trek at the Mexican border each day. For months, Permit Day is on my calendar and I strategize to increase my chances of getting a desired start day in mid-March. On my hike on the Corfu Trail, I rent an Airbnb specifically to have wifi and electricity. It’s like buying Rammstein tickets, only here everyone is hoping to be allowed to walk through Wallachia hungry and thirsty for five months with 12 kilos on their backs. Despite several used devices and most punctual appearance, I spend an hour in the “queue”. When it is my turn, almost all permits are sold out and I catch only one of the last starting places in May. That does not fit me so at all, there I burn in the desert and freeze to death in Washington. I bet everything on the second Permit Day on January 11, 2022, when the remaining permits will be issued. Although I again involve more devices, people and email addresses, the long wait remains. After almost an hour, however, this time there are enough March slots available and I am able to secure a permit for my desired start date, March 10, 2022.
Shortly after, I have my appointment at the US Embassy and receive my required B2 visa without any problems. With permit and visa in my pocket, I start putting together my equipment. For weeks I spend countless hours in front of the laptop with research, experience reports and Facebook groups. Not that I enjoy it, but failure should not be due to carrying around the wrong equipment. At its best, light, practical and reliable equipment frees me up to be more engaged with myself and my mental as well as physical state. After weeks of weighing and counting grams, I arrive in San Diego at a final weight of 14.97 kg (33 lbs) including 4 liters of water and food for 4 days. This is very sobering, after all the stress I would have hoped for more, or in this case less.
During the preparation for my hike, I keep coming across the “Why?” in articles or forums. His personal “Why?” is quite important to motivate himself in moments plagued by doubts and pain. Yes… why? I want to know if I can do this. I want to know if I am mentally and physically capable of hiking for five months and what changes that time will bring. Instead of envying people who tell me about their last long-distance hiking adventure, I’m going myself. I’m looking forward to the challenge, to nature, to my trail routine, to the silence, to the simple life and to the frugality that makes you appreciate even the smallest things. I am happy, excited, scared and totally touched. Maybe because I never wanted anything more.