Looking Back…Looking Forward…(bonus post!)

I’ve been considering writing something like this for a while, but wasn’t exactly sure what all I wanted to say or how to go about it. I felt I wanted to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, to explain some about what brought me out here and also what’s ahead for me.

Looking Back

I think most keeping along with my journey know this already anyway, but my guess is some have been wondering why I’m doing this trip. When people have asked me this, I’ve struggled at times to answer, not because I don’t know, but because I was hiding the truth. In reality, it’s not that hard to explain.

This past year was the hardest of my life as Steph and I struggled in our marriage, which eventually ended in divorce. Nobody ever expects or plans for this to happen. Each of us experienced pain and hurt like we’d never known, our families felt pain, our friends felt pain. For me, the simplest way to put it is that my world flipped upside down. The life I’d known was gone and yet at the same time I was still in the same places, doing a lot of the same things. And I think that’s the main thing that led me to doing the trail, not having some hope that I’ll “find myself” out here, but moreso that I couldn’t imagine continuing on like nothing had happened. I needed some time.

Why am I writing this, posting this for so many to read about? A few reasons. One is that I’ve learned I don’t like to hide it from folks or pretend that this isn’t happening. That seems to just make things harder. In a way, when doing these posts of my daily trail experiences, I felt I was doing just that. That I was portraying this great adventure and that everything is perfect. I’m not saying that I’m not having an amazing time, this has been an absolutely incredible experience, but I want to show that there’s more to it as well. I’m hoping not to have folks comment on here though with sympathy and such, but if you truly feel inspired to respond, please just send me something privately.

I’m definitely taking time to do lots of thinking out here. I’ve found my thoughts wandering back and forth within the same day from just being in the moment and taking in the beauty around me to thinking about big picture stuff…what to do after this, my beliefs and how I fit into it all, etc… So, I hope to start another thread on here at some point, separate from my daily posts, with some of things that have been on my mind.

Looking Ahead

I thought I’d do a quick run through of the trail overall and what I’m in for coming up:

The PCT is about 2,650 miles in length and when I write this I’m currently at Mile 433. So quite a ways to go still, eh. Just about 1/6 of the way done. BUT, it’s all about perspective, because 433 miles in itself is about 380 more mile than I’d even done on a backpacking trip, so hot dang, that’s something. Cruising right along.

The PCT is talked about in various regions, from south to north: Southern California (the desert – which as at times hasn’t seemed all that deserty to me), the Sierra Nevada, Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. Or at least those are the regions I’ve heard about most commonly. There are actual designated sections too, 29 I think, but I don’t know much about those.

I am still trekking along through southern California, but have knocked out the high elevation stuff. Back around mile 400, I did a quick jaunt above 7,000 feet elevation, which won’t happen again until the Sierra section. My next challenge, soon to come will be low elevations and the hot temperatures crossing the western section of the Mojave Desert. The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) puts the end of this region where the trail passes Highway 178 at Mile 652.

From what I’ve heard, the unofficial, but maybe more accurate start to the next region would actually be about 50 miles further, around Mile 700 and the Kennedy Meadows General Store. This seems to be the beginning of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The Mighty Sierra Nevada

It give me great pleasure to announce to you all, my faithful readers, that a certain Master Trailsman will be joining me once again to begin my journey into the Sierra’s! Yes indeed, Dave H, has agreed to sign on for another couple weeks to guide me through some high altitude backpacking experiences! He, Sumi, and I will need to brave many obstacles.

Those who have done some research on the trail or maybe talked to me when I was planning know that the Californian mountains received lots of snow this winter, well above an average snow pack as they say. I don’t know the most recent updates on this, but it’s been on everyone’s mind from before we even started the trail…how and when will we be able to go through the Sierra’s because of all the snow!?

There’s lots of difficulties with the snow as I’ve gotten just a taste of thus far, but add to it the crossing of rushing melt water streams. Many folks group up at this point if they haven’t already. I also anticipate us hikers being stacked up at Kennedy Meadows like the salmon at 6th Street Damn, waiting for conditions to be right before going onward.

Keeping it North

Enough fear mongering eh. We will meet that all when it comes and see what we can do! Since this has gotten long, I’ll briefly say that the snow will likely follow me still into northern California too. Maybe some of you mathematicians have been averaging up my miles and seeing that I’ll need to step it up if I want to finish the trail in September. Strategery folks…my plan has been not to rush going into Sierra’s, but afterwards, I will surely need to up my daily miles. Northern California and Oregon is where folks say this can be done.

What’s the rush you ask? For me, I don’t have a deadline other than the weather. Things can get really dicey in Washington they say. The trail goes into the rugged Northern Cascade Mountains. My goal will be to finish as early in the season as I can, but I’ve also put the idea of finishing before October in my mind as a goal.

I didn’t go over any of what to expect as far as scenery and such. From the sounds of it, all the regions will be beautiful in their own unique ways. I’m truly excited for them all!  I wouldn’t spoil the surprise of all that, even if I could describe it all 😎. Every day will be a new addition to the adventure!

Thanks all for keeping along! I hope my posts aren’t too monotonous at this point. I love the comments and do read them even if I don’t respond. It’s very nice to stay connected in that way, so thanks. If anyone ever has questions about what it’s like or how I do certain things out here, feel open to ask freely!

4 thoughts on “Looking Back…Looking Forward…(bonus post!)

  1. Ruth Prins

    Nice to know that the Master Trailsman will be taking on the snow with you. 🙂

    It felt so wonderful to hear about the swimming pool, hot tub, getting squeeky clean, with clean clothes, and then enjoying yummy warm food! Cold soaked meals makes me cringe. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Emily Brittenham

      😘 Love you!

      The heat of the Mojave sounds a bit intimidating to me 😥 And then lots of snow in the Sierras. Sheesh! But I have confidence that will overcome these challenges and learn/experience many new things along the way. Pretty cool to see such diverse landscapes!

      Liked by 1 person

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