Preparing for the 2023 backpacking season

The title is a bit deceptive, as I’ve been backpacking within the mountains since Might, doing path upkeep for the Washington Trails Affiliation. Nevertheless, lugging crosscut saws and different items of heavy steel hooked up to picket handles miles up hill, to then camp out for a number of days clearing trails, doesn’t, in my thoughts, actually matter as backpacking. It’s work. Pleasant, needed work, however work nonetheless.

My thought of backpacking has modified fairly a bit over the previous yr. It was that I seen the purpose of backpacking as mountain climbing to a predetermined level and camp there. The vacation spot turned the aim, and to some extent the vacation spot changed the journey. Final yr I took a brief journey by way of a distant space coated in blowdown, and a number of other ft of snow, with a imprecise aim of stopping when I discovered a pleasant, ideally snow free, place to camp. This was most likely my most pleasing backpacking journey up to now. Strolling by way of the wilderness with no fastened aim meant that the journey turned the main target, not the vacation spot.

A number of weeks later I set off on Part Okay of the PCT, and for 7 days I received up at first mild and hiked till nightfall, with out realizing, after I set off within the morning, the place I’d spend the evening. I didn’t meet many individuals on the journey, and had solely my firm for a lot of the day. I’d arrange camp, and virtually instantly go to sleep. My partner, who practices Zen Buddhism, instructed me, after I described this expertise, that it appeared like a strolling meditation, and that I had primarily been on every week lengthy silent retreat.

I’m 60-something, semi-retired, man dwelling an hour or two drive from most likely essentially the most spectacular surroundings within the decrease 48. I’ve spent numerous nights mountain climbing and backpacking within the North Cascades, and really feel blessed to stay in such a ravishing place. My total life I’ve hiked and backpacked, from lengthy cabin-to-cabin hikes in Norway as a baby, to trekking in Nepal, rambling in New Zealand, and getting blown round in Patagonia. However I had by no means accomplished a backpacking/tenting journey that lasted greater than two three nights. If requested why not, I’d have felt it was too intimidating and, to be trustworthy, scary. The longer you hike, the farther from the acquainted you’re, and the extra intimidating it turns into.

Upon setting out on the PCT hike, my biggest concern was not that I’d not be bodily in a position to hike 120 miles in every week, however moderately the gap I’d be from a escape exit in case one thing went improper. It was the isolation that brought on anxiousness, and overcoming that was liberating.

The overarching objective of this weblog is to not tout my mountain climbing accomplishments, meager as they’re in comparison with others, however to encourage others to push the boundaries of their consolation zone, prolong their hike just a few days, go to a extra distant space than you could have up to now, hike with no aim, and uncover that you’re extra succesful than you imagined.

So this yr I goal to hike sections I and J of the PCT, about 170 miles, with none resupplies, to push my very own boundaries, and to take you alongside as I put together for the hike reflecting over how final yr;s expertise has influenced my decisions from gear, to meals, to conditioning.

I hope you’ll come alongside for the journey.