I’m out of time. I need more time.
Six months ago, I informed my employer that I would be quitting to hike the PCT. It seems like such a long time ago. Back then I couldn’t wait to get on the trail. I could barely focus on work, my excitement was so strong. Now, I would give just about anything for another week.
I am still excited to be on trail, but I feel different than I expected. The excitement is severely blunted by an intense fear and anxiety. I am not ready, and I don’t want to leave Heidi. I have all the gear I need, but I am ashamed of where I am at with my planning. I barely figured out my resupply plan for the first 700 miles. That’s not even one-third of the trek! I’m a failure and I haven’t started hiking yet. All the other hikers will have the trail memorized. They’ll know the Sierra’s like the back of their hand.
I’ve dreamt of this adventure for more than two years. What went wrong? I’ve thought a lot about this as time slowly slipped away and I began to realize I wouldn’t finish before my trip began. Near as I can tell, it was just too big. I couldn’t break the hike into chunks small enough to tackle. How could I possibly make decisions about how far I can hike in a day and where and when I’ll need my resupply sent before I hit the trail? How could I know exactly where I can camp each night?
When I finally sat down to brute-force the task, I was amazed by how laborious the task was. I was able to plan about 50 miles per day, I should have gotten down to business months ago. Now it’s time to say goodbye to Heidi and drive to Cleveland where I’ll meet up with Mom and fly to San Diego. I feel sick. I feel guilty for leaving. I am going to miss Heidi tremendously. We are almost never apart and I feel like a jerk not only for leaving for seven months to hike, but also for sticking her with the added work of packing my boxes. It’s bad enough that I am asking her to mail them out. I’m a lucky guy: I have an amazing girlfriend who loves me enough to support the chasing of such a ridiculous and pointless dream, and she’s willing to take on the extra work of portioning out food and supplies for the duration of this trip. I feel loved beyond explanation. I also feel like I’m burning my goodwill with her. I hope she’ll still be there when I return.
During the drive to Cleveland to meet Mom, my I keep my mind occupied by listening to an audiobook. Anything to keep the anxiety at bay. Once in Cleveland, I procrastinate the planning further by walking Mom through all the camping gear (It’s going to be her first backpacking trip) and visiting with my dad. I spend a scant hour looking ahead at the Sierras. I feel like a fuck-up.
Before I know it, it’s time to head to the airport to catch a flight to San Diego. The hike is getting closer and closer and I’m no more prepared than I was a week ago. What is wrong with me?