Hey all, it's Kevin, Dad figured I oughta write one of these so here I am. I'm not particularly sure what the goal is so I suppose I'll just share some of those little jokes and nuggets of wisdom I could never really appreciate until experiencing them. I think I had some trouble paying advice the proper respect. Remember, I basically went from day hiking every now and then straight to full time backpacking on the PCT.
Mom gave me the first and most important bit of advice I think in saying "Never disrespect the trail." - If you complain about going uphill, it will give you more uphill. If you say "this has got to be the last switch back", it will reveal 6 more around the next bend, and if you call a downed tree 'stupid' for forcing you off the trail, you will probably switchback and be blocked by the same tree later as punishment for mentioning it.
The next I learned in a single night. You simply cannot be too picky about a campsite. I rushed Mom into setting down, mainly just because I was moody about my sore feet and my excitement over the lack of mosquitoes. The combination of cold wind and lumpy terrain landed me a little over an hour of uncomfortable sleep that night. I think I needed that some how, nature isn't particularly forgiving to whiners.
I also finally understand how people go from like 8-12 miles a day (average starting speed for a backpacker) to 20+ suddenly. While an incredibly slow and steady increase in pace will happen with anything you practice, necessity is what brings out those jumps. On our third day we hit the "13.5 miles" mark while we were in near freezing clouds, high wind, and between two steep ridges. Setting up camp and maintaining our planned for non ambitious steady pace wasnt an option. We were stuck in that for maybe 3 hours, starting to get a little worried we weren't going to get off to a decent camp spot before nightfall. It turns out however between awesome scenery, a lack of an option to rest long (due to the cold), or an option to stop, you can find a lot of energy in the lack of effort normally paid out if you dont have your heart in it. After knowing you can do something it gets easier to expect that of yourself. I expect real hiker folk have a series of those experiences that pushes them to the miles I'd seen recorded.
Personally, I've found out I love ridge trails. The wind and clouds are awesome, they pretty much make up the climbing you always have to do to get to them.
As for a few other things I've decided
- The numbers lie, there's always more up than down.
- The word pass in terms of the PCT means climb in between the highest peaks... then climb the taller of the two.
- "Scenic" means ridiculous and out of the way
- Hikers might be a little crazy. I'm pretty sure hobo's have better food and warmer nights, I think I'm starting to get it though.