Choosing to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail is the most selfish decision I have ever made.
There is a sense of pride in taking on a challenge of such magnitude as the Pacific Crest Trail, a sense of accomplishment in the decision and preparation, and all before stepping a single foot onto the trail.
Family and friends feed into it. The ego of a potential thru-hiker is inflated exponentially by the back-pats of fathers, hugs of mothers, the turned-up thumbs of siblings, and the ‘how can you just do something like that?‘ questions dropped by best friends– to which must be replied with ‘well, let me puff out my chest and just tell you all about this thing I haven’t done yet!‘ Thru-hikers choose to abandon their lives. Jobs are discarded and families are left behind.
It will only be for five months or so, I’ll see you guys again soon. Why don’t you come meet me out on the trail, that would be fun! Hey, by the way, can you watch my cat for me? Oh, and I’ll be needing a place to store my things. Would you mind? Some of those things I will need out on the trail, and I was hoping you could mail them to me. Remember to water my plants, and when you get my mail just sort out all the junk and throw it away for me. I trust you. Thanks for giving me a ride to the drop off point. I really appreciate it. Yeah, it’s sad that I won’t make it to Terry’s wedding, but they knew I was going out on the trail when they scheduled it and I only have such a short timeframe to get this done.
The support of close friends and family is what makes a thru-hiker’s selfish challenge possible. The small requests of a thru-hiker are never ending, but neither is their appreciation. Some may have it easier than others, and I am certainly blessed to be surrounded by the amazing people who are supporting me on this journey, but all thru-hikers are selfish in their quest and should remain steadfast in their efforts to remain humble and grateful.
The planning and preparation for a thru-hike is immense, and the hike itself is often too much to handle for those who set out to conquer it. Thru-hikers are more than selfish, they are also passionate about their adventure, stubborn in the face of adversity, smart, strong-willed, and so much more.
And the thing about being selfish is that it is not necessarily a bad thing. Deciding to take on this quest is the most selfish decision I have ever made, but it is something I feel I need to do for myself. I believe most thru-hikers would say the same. The trail is calling to those who need to heal, those who need to find themselves, those who simply thirst for adventure. Selfishness, at certain times in life, is necessary.
Crossposted at JillandRtPCT