The Spark

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail hasn’t always been on my list of things to do.  In fact, I didn’t know about it until fairly recently.  I have always wanted to hike many different mountains though.  It was a desire I have had most of my life.  Where ever we drove or flew, I would see interesting landscapes and want to be out in it, wanting to hike or climb.  Usually I would only dream of such a thing; I didn’t have time; it wasn’t the right time; nobody else wanted to…the excuses would pile on.  I have hiked a few places though and knew that I loved to hike and that it was a lot of work.  We hiked when we went camping and hunting, and I even went cliff climbing with a friend, but these outings were rare.  I had just enough experience to keep the desire alive.   I have a few places I would really love to be able to go hiking and they nag at me from time to time.  I want to hike Mt Rainier, Mt Hood, Mt St Helens, a few of the trails around Lake Tahoe, and some in my own neighborhood.

When I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed, that desire flourished.  It nagged at me for several weeks.  I kept thinking about this untrained woman hiking such a long distance by herself.  I knew that I wouldn’t do this alone, but I did want to hike.  I felt I had to hike. I kept mulling this over and trying to figure out what I was going to do.  A lot of the time just coming up with a plan makes me feel better, and life continues on.  I am often self-destructive in the fact that I talk myself out of dreams, or I just don’t take action and one day it is no longer as important. And I move on to other things.  But this desire was different.  I realized that I am tired of dreaming but taking no action.  It is time to do something differently.  I needed to make plans that were actually achievable and set smaller goals and deadlines to be sure that I would do this.  I knew right away that I wanted to hike from Mt Hood to the Cascade Locks and cross the bridge into Washington.  I left things as that for a while.  Then I went to the locks for lunch one day with my son-in-law and grandson.  There were some hikers lunching there too, and they just looked so alive. I wanted to join them on the walk across the bridge.

wild

The story and my desires kept plaguing me.  I couldn’t shake them.  One day, I sat down and decided that I needed to get more serious about getting into shape if I wanted to do this hike.  But I had told myself that I would do something before when I got into shape and that dream slipped away because, as I realized at that moment, the goal didn’t become reality because I had no accountability and no deadline to get things done.  If I wanted to actually do this hike, I had to do things differently.  I questioned what I could do differently and quickly decided to give myself a deadline.  I guessed that by driving past Mt Hood and on to the Colombian River that it could possibly take me and someone else about five days.  So I gave myself five years to get ready to do such a hike; it sounded reasonable.

mthoodandcolumbianriver

That was the starting point.  Now I had to decide how to get into shape and prepared for such a trip.  I also needed accountability.   That was no problem.  If I talked to my family members I would have to do it because they would keep asking until I finally made it or face the humiliation of saying that I didn’t accomplish the trip.  This also helped me decide how to find a hiking partner or two.  I knew that my daughter would hike with me because she likes adventure and hiking.  I also thought of inviting several other female family members to make this a girl’s getaway.  But I also wanted to invite a male cousin.  Just telling friends and family that I wanted to do this, I gained interest and hiking partners. Now I have about six of us planning on going on this hike in five years or less, 2020 or sooner.

Now to become fit enough to be able to master this challenge.  I knew from reading the book that I should be able to hike about 13-15 miles a day for several days in a row.  At that point I was walking 10 minutes a day.  I had been able to do several miles with no problem, but that had been years ago.  I didn’t know about at this point.  So the most logical thing to do was to increase the distance and the frequency that I was walking.  I decided to walk at least one mile a day 3-5 days a week and three miles or an actual hike one day a week pushing for walking five days a week.  I started and haven’t looked back.  All the excitement that I gain from talking about the trip and planning keeps me motivated to walk regularly and trying to lengthen my outdoor hikes.

I have excitement and people checking in on me.  I am on my way training for the big hike, and that is even more motivating than I had thought it would be.  I am very confident that this time things are different and that I will actually get there one day.

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