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Monday, April 9, 2018

PCT: Pre-hike jitters

Being able to sleep again is the only reason I am hiking the PCT this year.  That and maybe getting the opportunity to start a inter-species fight club with mountain lions, marmots, mountain goats, and aggressive cows.  

If it's your first night at Fight Club... you HAVE to fight.

Tyler Durden seen here training for his fight with a mountain goat.

In case my sarcasm is lost in translation to the keyboard from my east coast trained brain, I will elaborate with a touch of gravitas.  Alright, I lied, there's nothing serious in this post at all, other than maybe the following statement.

The planning involved for a PCT thru hike is significant.  

The regular PCT planning FAQs (if there was such a thing) would probably resemble the same questions someone might ask if coming over for a party.
  • What should I wear?
  • What food & drinks should I bring?
  • How many/what kind of people are going to be there?
  • What's the weather going to be like?
  • Is there a place for me to sleep if I get too drunk?
  • Is it 420 friendly?
  • Etc...

The simple stuff regarding gear decisions, I have mostly figured out from previous backpacking trips, and thru-hiking the Colorado Trail in 2016.  I also know from my Colorado Trail hike that these jitters are all bull shit.  To steal a quote from Ecclesiastes "All of this is meaningless, a chasing after the wind".   

Yet. I. Can. Not. Stop. Thinking.

My mind is like a kitten on Adderall laced catnip playing with ball of yarn.  Just going and going and no end in sight.  It is constantly firing little questions and comments, and they often snowball or build upon one another.  

For those of you who don't live with anxiety, this is how those of us who do think sometimes.  And yes my thoughts have the same sarcasm and often resemble a conversation.  Yeah, I talk to myself; don't judge me.  : )  

The thought train wreck looks like this...

Hmmm, I wonder if I should resupply between Tehachapi and Kennedy Meadows.  

Nah, it's such a long ass hitch to Lake Isabella.  That'd waste an entire day, just to go get food for another 50 miles of hiking to Kennedy Meadows.  

Yeah, what was I thinking, after all, it's "only" 136 miles with measurable elevation gain, through the driest, maybe windiest, and possibly hottest section of the PCT where I'll be carrying 6-7 liters of water at a time and hiking through loose sand while dodging Poodle Dog Bush and rattlesnacks; why wouldn't I want to carry 7 or 8 days of food through this section to add to all that suffering?

Wait.. what the hell is a 'rattlesnack'?  While it sounds like a tasty treat hiker-hunger could dispose of quickly, I think you meant 'rattlesnakes'.  Anyway, you've hiked in the desert before, just night-hike 20s for seven days straight and wait out the heat in the shade.

Yeah, shade... whatever.  
Argghhh... guess I should resupply in Lake Isabella.  

No, fuck that, you can do this.  

Um... no I can't.  

What's the worst that could happen?  Death by dehydration or heat stroke is a noble death right?  

Why should I even care if my death is "noble".  I'm not a fucking king.  

You're right, a king would have someone else carrying his 7 liters of water and 8 days of food thru the Mojave desert.

Maybe you could carry less water and rely on the water caches that are "usually" around in this section.  

Relying on water caches seems like a dumb plan and a great way to accomplish your 'noble death'.

Argghh... maybe I should have hiked the AT instead.... at least they have fucking water.

No, the AT also has more bugs.  Fuck bugs.  

Yeah, that's true the desert only has FUCKING SPIDERS!

On that note, I'm going to get a beer or two, or nine; one for each day until I begin this adventure.


  1. You forgot the scorpions that are in the desert. Assuming you survive as far as nor cal and Oregon you'll have an opportunity to try to out run swarms of mosquitoes. :-)

    1. Ah yes, the hoards of mosquitoes, don't bring me into reality yet, I am trying to pretend like those don't exist right now. That also reminds me of the African bees in S. Cali that chase hikers for a thousand yards or so. I can't wait for that either. :)

  2. Hum, your comment: "Yet. I. Can. Not. Stop. Thinking." is familiar. I often have days like this and I'm not planning on exposing myself to suffering, repetitive step syndrome, increased risk of dying, ridicule from more experienced triple-crown thru hiker trash, and meeting people who are, most likely, more crazy than you.

    I have days like this when your brain feels like a runaway train, and your ability to focus on one thought is interrupted with wonder and alternatives. I attribute this to getting old, early unsought of elder ADD or DAADD (Dementia Activated Attention Deficit Disorder). But you can't claim that.

    Pre-hike jitters must be normal. What may be abnormal is that you are willing giving up comfort, beds, warm cooked meals, shelter, clean cloths, warm showers, and the Internet so you can walk, walk, and walk to see, smell, feel and experience parts of the country that probably less .05% of the humans in the US have seen. No wonder you have pre-hike jitters.

    But you are a Wilbur. With that name comes a genetically pre-disposition to curiosity, adventure, thinking, and tenacity. Wilbur's have been known to overcome the many trials and tribulations of what the world throws at them. They are also known to throw some trials and tribulations at themselves.

    You got this man!

    A few quotes to ponder:
    "Those at the top of the mountain didn't fall there" (Marcus Washling)
    "No one ever achieved greatness playing it safe" (Harry Gray)
    "You can get to Canada by walking, but you may have to kill a few spiders to do it." (Fred Wilbur)

    1. Dad is right. You will miss clean cloths. You may miss clothes too.

  3. I, too, have runaway brain syndrome. I have channeled it into useful stuff, mostly. You are channeling it into walking a few thousand miles.

    I, too, noticed the conspicuous lack of mention of scorpions in this post. I can live with bugs, and with spiders. But scorpions. I am out.

    It's all mental, of course - except the physical hiking through the desert and up some mountains and eating way less than usual and burning trillions of calories and avoiding invertebrates with stingy tails. No, not tails that are stingy and don't want to bring gifts to the holiday. Sting-y as in "ow"! That stings when you poke me with a scorpion tail.

    But really it's all mental. Most stuff is.

    Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.

    1. To quote Yogi, it's 90% mental and the other half is physical.

  4. Also: rattlesnacks? I love that word. Love the idea. Off to go find some breakfast that rattles now.

  5. Love, love, love your blogs! Brain chaos is part of your inheritance from Dad and I. It's really not so bad when it leads to writing like this. Can't help wondering how I got so lucky to have a family like this one. By the way, what's with being up at 4 in the morning (Fred & Johanna) and actually being lucid.

    1. Right, 4:30am? That's what I was thinking.

    2. Did I just post the answer to that? Where did it go. Your blog appears to be in local CO time. It was 6:30 am my time.

  6. I don't do much at 4:30 am unless Adam is dragging me up a 14er

  7. So, to test my point, I am posting this at 3:00 am my time.