Milestones and Paperwork

A couple of days ago I turned 41.

When it comes to PCT hikers, I’m part of a very small cohort, age-wise. There’s a significant number of hikers who hit the trail in their twenties: people taking time before they get to college, or between college and a career. Then the numbers dwindle as the graph approaches middle age, as we are entrenched in jobs and families and other adult-type responsibilities (that I am so good at shirking). The numbers jump again in later life, as trekkers who have dreamed of the trail all their lives retire and finally get their chance (or continue coming back, after having been enraptured by the trail in earlier travels).

I don’t mind at all being in the statistical minority; I’m actually fairly happy about it. Hopefully this means I’ve come to my senses (or am setting out to find them) later than some, but earlier than others.

So on my birthday, I set out to walk from my house to the post office—a little 6-mile jaunt—with my pack near pack weight. It was also a chance to test out my new camera. The images here are the result, and they look pretty fair to me.

The Winter Hills

This might normally be covered in snow, but not this year.

The Burned Spires

Remnants of a burn a few years ago.

The Winter Leaves

Beauty in surprising places.

Dry Landscape

The hills descending to the desert far below.



























I also walked past the first house I ever rented, the house Joanna and I shared when we were first married. It’s a beautiful little cabin, old-fashioned and quaint, and though it was excessively tiny, I still miss it.

My first cottage.

The most charming house I’ve ever had.









Want more media file fun? Here’s my first attempt at filming video, which I may do from time to time along the trail. It’s dull and rather pointless, but then again, so often, so am I.

Man, it’s hard to watch oneself on video. Sorry for the low angle—I hope you enjoy my nostrils! I also enjoy how ridiculously huge my hat looks. Ideally I’ll iron out the bugs as I go along.

The real challenge of hiking is 2,660 miles, though, as it turns out, is PAPERWORK. I kid you not. There are multiple permits to be applied for, and these have not been bad. (The PCTA actually issues one thru-hiker permit good for all the state parks, national monuments, national forests, and federal wilderness areas the trail passes through, which is a blessing.) It’s the national border that’s tricky. The Canada Entry permit form is oddly byzantine, and I’m pretty sure when I mailed it, it was wrong. We’ll see if they let me in anyway. Getting my passport has been a week-long slog of endless forms and expenses. (Oddly, I don’t need a passport to get into Canada, but I do need one to get back from Canada to the US.) County of birth record checks, postage fees, notary fees, application fees—half my gear didn’t cost this much, and didn’t take half so much time and effort to gather.

In any case, these details are getting knocked out bit by bit. I’m just grateful I started somewhat early to give myself time to navigate through all the jigs and jags.

Categories: Uncategorized | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Milestones and Paperwork

  1. Ingrid

    I was wondering about the park permits – good to hear that they’ve come up with a “right-of-way” item. Glad to hear you got a passport, too, huzzah!

  2. If only. I’m off to see the notary today (weather permitting) to notarize my signature on the form that I can then submit to my county of origin so that they can send me a registered copy of my birth certificate so I can take that to the passport intake center so they can process my application for a passport. Then, Lord willing, I may eventually get a passport.

    Phew. I’m tired just typing that.

  3. Tee hee! Watching you is delightful. And way to hike in the paperwork! I like it. 🙂

  4. Anthony Slusser

    A chuckle, a chortle, a smile and deep thought,
    This, oh dear son, is what thou hast wrought,
    With recorder in hand and hat quite becoming,
    Oh that I might with thee be chumming.

    But since I am slave
    To family affairs obligation
    I shan’t, with thee, see
    This side of the nation.

    At least as you wander,
    Midst dale and ‘oer hill,
    My vicarious longings
    Will stand at your will.

    And if this be small sample
    Of ventures to follow,
    I deem myself blessed,
    Seeing each mount and hollow.

    So send us your ramblings,
    In verse, voice, and picture
    And I shall revel anew,
    IN each quite musing mixture.

    The Progenitor

    • Daddy, you are just cool. No wonder your kids are, too. ❤


        Oh daughter, my daughter, so charming and tall,Of the gifts I’ve been blessed, I have given you all.You are strong and courageous,

  5. My father, the poet. Thanks for the great words, Pop–they will keep me mindful of keeping folks at home informed and entertained, and of how great a blessing is this opportunity.

  6. Just wanted to thank you for the photos. I’ve been in the market for a new camera, especially wanted for my upcoming car camping/hiking vacation in Colorado this summer. My old one has been dropped repeatedly, frozen, rained on… and still works, but the photos are all pixilated now. This might be the ticket! Thanks and I look forward to following you this summer. 🙂

    • I just noticed this kind little note. Thanks for following along!

      In the time since I’ve bought the camera, it has continued to prove itself clear and reliable. I’m not nearly as technically minded as I should be, so doubtless I am not using the device to its full potential. That said, it’s probably a good sign that it is as easy to use as it is. I remain pleased.

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