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.
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.
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.