My dad had been talking about doing the Oregon leg of the PCT for some time, and initially I had brushed it off as something we’d talk about but ultimately settle for a week somewhere along it. But over time, he talked more and more about it. Then he started buying gear. Talking about daily miles and food. Last month he came up with a daily mileage plan from Fish Lake to Cascade Locks, including resupply locations. And finally, two weeks ago we set dates and we talked about when to buy one-way tickets to Medford, OR. It was at this point I suspected we were actually going to do this.
The PCT as a whole seems not just daunting but wearyingly long. And I mean that literally; roughly measured at 2650 miles long from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, it’s actually 400 miles longer than driving. The average daily hiking distance is around 20 miles if you want to do it in under 5 months. It is one of only 3 trails in the US that let you walk anywhere near as far uninterrupted.
The Oregon portion is of course much more approachable, and has the bonus of being “home” territory for us. In his youth, both as a Boy Scout and with his family, my dad spent plenty of time up in the Oregon Cascades. I did my share as a kid growing up in Oregon, and again when I moved back as an adult. It is still a good 4 weeks of walking though. No amount of lightweight, modern gear will eliminate the daily need to cart around your food, water, and shelter for a month.
I’m already in decent shape, and have been trying to up my workouts in anticipation of this, but the need is very real now to literally get my ass in gear and start getting my body used to this kind of daily work. Working a cushy desk job, I’ve been spending the vast majority of the past 20 years sitting. I’m sure I can do this, but I know it’s going to hurt when I start, a lot. And there are plenty of question marks about the trip that are going to gnaw at me with doubt and concern until we’re walking.