Taking a detour
Life is full of detours. There’s one I didn’t take one eighteen years ago: I had applied for a piece of crown land to build myself a house, and my plan B, in case the application was denied, was to hike the Pacific Crest Trail – a 4,240 km (2,650 miles) long hiking trail that stretches from the US-Mexico border all the way to Canada. I got the land and shelved the PCT for later in life, but my life choices then saw me adopt more dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, and move further out into the bush with my boyfriend away from roads and human neighbours.
My PCT hiking guides (actual books because 18 years ago an app was just a typo) have accompanied me all that time, catching my eye again and again on the bookshelf as we added on to our cabin, grew a garden, figured out a livelihood and my dogs grew old and passed away.
As responsibilities dwindled (no more cats, chickens and ducks, only one dog left now) I began to pull those books out again. Every map calls out a promise, these ones also sound a challenge. Which begs the question: how do I keep challenging myself and continue to grow as a person, tucked away since 2005 in a wilderness cabin? 10 months of being a foster mom to orphaned black bears at Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter was one experience I knew I needed, one that still follows me into my dreams at night, one that has forever changed my feelings towards bears because I came to know black bears so closely.
Getting to know a long, long stretch of landscape closely seems to be another experience I need since the appeal of a thruhike hasn’t paled at all over the course of 18 years. I wonder how that experience will unfold. Since our dog is already 11 years old and will have to carry his own food, we’re not tackling the PCT but will try our luck with the Arizona Trail, by comparison a short cruise: it’s only 1,300km (800 miles) long, but not as overrun as the PCT has become.
There’s one advantage of having waited for 18 years to attempt a thruhike. Gear has become incredibly light compared to those good old days of clunky leather boots and towering backpacks. Going lighter is much easier on the body (now 18 years older). We’ll see how we do!