As I gaze out at another grey and rainy London day it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to jet off to the Californian sun. We could find a beach, eat lots of ice cream, work on our tans… except this time my husband Conrad and I will be loading our lives into a backpack and hiking through Oregon and Washington states along the Pacific Crest trail north to Canada!
OK, so many attempt the full hike in a season, and over the last couple of weeks I have been following handfuls of excited individuals set out on their mammoth pilgrimages from Mexico. And good luck to them, I am in total awe. We have chosen to instead ‘section’ hike the northern 942 miles, which if we complete it will be a personal feat for a number of reasons:
- We have no experience of real backpacking i.e. carrying a heavy load and camping
- I have serious fears of the indigenous wildlife (and gun-carrying people!)
- We are not match fit! Due to some health and logistical setbacks we haven’t had the chances we expected to physically train for the challenge ahead
- Did I mention camping, in the wilderness, with bears, snakes, mountain lions?!
I don’t know what scares me the most right now – the lack of shower facilities, or the wilderness itself. Will we be physically and mentally tough enough to just ‘get on with it’? I’ve always considered myself pretty hard, but then again I haven’t ever put myself in this sort of outlandish situation, and I do like my creature comforts – throughout the entire winter I have taken a hot water bottle to bed! And I can’t quite get my head around not showering.
Yet there’s nothing like having family members laugh at the very idea of us camping, and taking bets against quit dates to makes me want to show them!
Why Oregon & Washington?
Well, firstly I wanted to avoid the desert! For 2 hiking amateurs, I didn’t think that setting out into desert, where water sources are limited would be a very cleaver idea! I had visions of us needing to be airlifted out as our sickly pale skin is over-exposed and our bodies fail through severe dehydration! No one wants to be that idiot. We need a chance to build up our strength and stamina on the hike. Oregon seems smart. No heavy bear canister to carry, and by doing so we are able to start later than most.
I would like to complete the entire PCT eventually, so this way I figure we can ‘split it in 2’ and start with the shortest part. Lastly, we get to end in Canada which is pretty cool, I love poutine!
What makes our hike different?
The most obvious answer is our lack of skill/ hiking/ camping knowledge. But we are not total idiots, and have spent the last 2 months reading countless books/ blogs/ watching YouTube videos to try and educate ourselves, but nothing beats experience. So we need to learn-as-we-hike and will be starting based on an assumed daily mileage of just 12 miles, with rest days. In comparison, the main thru-hikers heading up from Mexico will probably easily be crunching off 25-35-mile days by then in a race to beat the snow! I hope we don’t have that same tight deadline.
We will also be hiking this section ahead of the majority, so the weather and trail conditions are harder to ascertain from the wealth of general trail info already out there. We hope to start on May 30th, 40 days from now. Crater Lake is still covered in snow. Fingers crossed.