T-minus three days until permit day, October 30th at 6:30am. Don’t worry all you fellow Americans out there, no the permit day and time did not change, I am just currently in the future in the land of New Zealand. That’s a 20 hour difference to back home in California. Consider yourself lucky and enjoy your extra four hours of sleep the day of permit release, not like any of us will be able to sleep anyway.
Who am I you ask?
My name is Kevin, a 29 year old (going on 30 by the time I set foot on trail) born and raised in Petaluma, California (Northern). I have my mind set on walking 2,650 miles northbound (NOBO) on the Pacific Crest Trail, starting at the Mexico/California border along with the rest of the beautiful people in the NOBO Class of 2020.
Many people are stressing over trying to get an exact date or have zeroed in on a group of dates, but I am just excited that my dream is finally starting to feel like a reality. I am lucky that I don’t have many restrictions or obligations that will influence what day I have to start. My decision will be purely on what’s left when it is my turn to choose and what will set me up for the greatest chance of reaching my goal, Canada.
My original plan has already shifted once for two reasons:
- The new rules added by the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) about flipping when hitting the Sierras.
- The news of my brother due to have his second child sometime in the middle of April.
Rules are set for a reason and I plan to follow them. If you have yet to read about the new rules or want a better understanding of what I am talking about check out this article which does a way better job explaining then I ever will. The PCTA is here to preserve and protect the trail as well as the wild lands it passes through to make it enjoyable for us and many generations to come. I will start exactly on the date of my permit and plan to walk straight through from the desert through the Sierra. If I deem it unsafe to pass I will take the necessary steps to get the other permits needed.
I am extremely close with my brother and the birth of his child is something I prefer not to miss. If that means me hiking a handful of extra miles on multiple days then you best bet I am going to do just that.
For those reasons I have decided to take what I can get at the end of April or into May. Knowing that I will soon be able to answer the question “when will you be starting?” with an exact answer has me realizing how real it is becoming.
Thru-hiking the PCT no longer seems like a pipe dream, but a reality quickly developing. I am currently on week 9 of a 12 week no gym thru-hike training program, given to me by a PCT alumni and personal trainer Lee Welton of Trailside Fitness (more in depth training post to come). I have started other training programs in my life to try and get into better shape, but never have I ever made it this far into one without falling off. The determination to make it to Canada has already set in.
I have began telling as many people as I can. I have gotten the questions all the time when out on day hikes when they look at my pack size “You’re camping out here?! Where are you setting up camp tonight? Do you have an overnight permit?” Of course when I am on a backpacking trip I can give the answers they are looking for, but when just out for the day I tell them I am training for the PCT. I have now told countless strangers of why I am lugging around a large pack on all my hikes to help prepare me for what is to come. It is within telling these people and holding myself accountable to my word that the PCT is feeling more like a reality.
I am currently laying on a bunk of one of New Zealand’s many backcountry huts waiting for a storm to pass on day five of a six day 100 mile trip and I feel great. I have put up with weather that would usually cause me to stay home from a backpacking trip. I have strung together multiple near twenty mile days with decent elevation gain. I finally feel that I am capable of conquering the PCT and I will be doing just that next year.
Stay tuned for more details on my actual start date, a more in depth look at my training and preparation, and a deeper dive into who I am and why I am hiking.
(Sweet Trail Name to be earned)
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