In just 8 weeks, I start my thru-hike from the PCT’s Southern Terminus. I can’t believe that it is actually happening! I’ve known for almost a year that I was going to make this hike happen, but now that it is coming up I’m starting to become obsessed with all things hiking, and almost nothing else. I set a goal for myself to try and blog as much as possible, accompanied with my photography to let folks in on what’s cracking. But, I have major challenges focusing on anything for too long, so its been tough. But I will stay consistent, and concise whenever possible in my blogging. Here is a short description of what I’ve done to get ready for the long walk.
So here’s what I’ve done so far:
I put in my resignation at work. I’m a hard worker and I love my organization, so I gave them a year’s notice. A lot of my energy at work has been focused on ensuring that I transition my department to my successor in good financial shape, and with a highly skilled team. Im going to miss my comrades probably the most. They’ve been with me every day for 6 years, in the trenches of community organizing work, sharing sweet but rare campaign victories and a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears. They are around me literally 75% of my time spent awake on this earth.
I started a gofundme. All of the gear that I typically use when in the backcountry isn’t considered “ultralight”. I knew if I was going to make the length of the PCT I was going to need lighter and more updated gear. Non-profit salaries + LA’s insane rental market//cost of living = no possible way for me to save money. So I knew I was going to have to gracefully beg for it. I set myself a goal of $6,000 and was able to raise almost $4,000 (some folks opted to send me specific items I needed, some gave me cash, and some venmo’d me in order to avoid gofundme’s 3% tax.
I applied for my permits, and got them! I know I wasn’t alone when I nearly shit my pants after noticing that PCTA’s site kept crashing the morning of applications. After about 50 tries, I was able to get through and was assigned 4/16 as my start date.
I planned a gear list, and then slowly began purchasing over time. This part is pretty straight up. Who doesn’t like shopping? I hate shopping, unless it has to do with outdoor gear or photography equipment - YAY! I created a separate bank account for all the money I was raising, and used that to make purchases - this way I could cleanly track my normal living income/expenses and my PCT expenses separately. I spent hours and hours researching, chatting on forums, and emailing people to figure out what kind of gear would be best for me. The majority of my equipment is made by ZPacks, cause they’re fucking amazing, but not even remotely cheap. You pay for the weight you shave off.
- I did lots of training hikes! This should always be a priority (notice how its not on top of my list) when possible. Hiking often and on difficult trails will ease the pain that will surely hit me the first 200 miles of the desert. Over the summer, fall, winter, and spring I have been hitting the trails. Some hikes are normal early morning day hikes in the San Gabriel mountains, and some hikes are multi-night treks through the freezing cold of the Eastern Sierras. I could definitely do more of these, but the reality is Im a busy dude and can’t always get out when I want to. And some times I just don’t have the energy to. But overall, I feel good physically. My legs are strong, I’m a fast hiker, and I know how to survive in tough conditions.
I found a roommate and sublet for my apartment. This one gave me a LOT of anxiety. I have lived on my own in LA for a long time. Having roommates off and on. I always knew that I would never be able to afford a house, and I’m not trying to give up my rent controlled apartment in order to hike the PCT. When I initially explored the idea of doing this, I spoke to my landlord and she was down to support me. I was lucky enough to find an amazing friend and roommate (who is also a close comrade through my work), who then worked with me to find a sublet that could rent my room while its empty. The trick to the PCT is this: I don’t know when I will finish (the snow pack this year is nuts, El Nino came a year late!). So I needed to find a submitter that had considerable flexibility. When I get done with the PCT, I’ll need to come back home and find some work before I move back into my place, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to cover the rent. Having a dope sublet affords me some flexibility when I get home so I can get back on my feet.
- I started working harder than ever at my job. I honestly thought that as the hike date got closer and more real, senioritis would kick in and I would start slacking off. In reality, I started working hard as m**f**. In movement and community organizing work, 99.9% of the people that you work for never have the opportunity or the privilege to quit work and go hike, let alone take a weekend off for wellness. Poor and working class folks are concerned with practical matters of survival, institutional racism, and economic mobility. And in this current political environment, concerns are squarely focused on the new reality of the Trump Administration and what it will do to our vulnerable communities. A strong sense of guilt set in for me when I told folks what I was doing, and it got worse after November 9,2016. I want to make sure that I’m maximizing impact while I’m still here.
There’s still a TON that I need to do next, like packing up some of my personal things and putting them in storage, and finalizing my resupply (I will put up a more in-depth post on this later) plans. But my spirits are high, and I can’t wait to hit the trail and meet some amazing people. I’ll keep ya’ll posted!