July 24th - October 14th (82 Days)
It's been a few weeks since I've been off of the trail and I feel like this is the first time I've been able to sit down and consciously reflect on my journey. Part of the trail is putting your life on hold and picking it back up when you get back. I'm very fortunate to have family and friends that have enabled me to transition back into normal life easier. When I completed my first hike in 2017, I was surprised how jarring it was to come back into civilization. You aren't packing up at the crack of dawn every day. You aren't exhausted at the end of every day. You aren't seeing new and beautiful scenery and wildlife every day. You can shower and eat normal food again. It's those million little things that make up everyday life that take some getting used to again.
When I finished the section up to Canada, I wrote that I wasn't sure how much long distance hiking I'd do in the future. It's tough. For the first month or so, I was happy to have heat, a bed to sleep in and lots of good food to eat. As the days move on, I started to realize how much I missed the wilderness. It had become a huge part of my life and I took almost every opportunity I could to get back out and explore again.
When I decided that I was going to finish out the PCT earlier this year, I was more excited for it than I had been since crossing the Canadian border. This hike was different. I had experience. I knew how hard I could push my body. I knew how to handle seeing wild bears and rattlesnakes. I knew what going days without seeing anyone was like. It felt less like being pushed out of an airplane and more like flying.
Yet the trail still had plenty surprises. The Sierras pushed me harder physically than any other section. I got to experience kit foxes, cougars, and desert insects. I was far more alone going southbound than any place going northbound. I got to see sections of California I had never even heard of despite living in it for the first 20+ years of my life.
I hope when I look back on this hike, I will remember it as fondly as I did going northbound. I thought that my first journey on the PCT was the experience of a lifetime. I now see it as the start of a lifetime of exploration.
Wildlife seen: black bears, cougars, Rattlers, kangaroo rats, grouse, deer, golden eagle, kit fox, coyotes, rabbits, squirrel, golden trout, hummingbird moth, orange-tip butterfly, tiger lily
PS: I've updated my old posts to have maps and mileage info, so check those out if you are interested. Special thanks to Craig's PCT Planner for calculating some of these stats.