Thursday, August 23, 2007
Pacific Crest Trail Section or thru-hiking - an extreme sport
No doubt about it. Consider your normal recreational backpack - hike six hours, find a beautiful campsite, hangout, bag a peak, read, swim, photograph, etc. Definitely a vacation. Active, yes, but if asked what you did for vacation, you answer "went backpacking" with no hesitation.
Now, our recent 300 mile section hike on the PCT. Up at dawn - roughly 5:30. On the trail by 7. Gorp break at 9, PopTart break at 10:30, jerky, powerbar, dried fruit & cracker for lunch, Gorp breaks thru the afternoon & finally finding a suitable camp spot at 7pm. A dry camp of course. You only hit water once or twice a day, and rarely is it when you want to camp. So, on the last water, pump about 3 liters extra for supper and breakfast at the dry camp. Some days we might stop at five pm. On those days the thru-hikers will be going by, sometimes saying "stopping early?" as they go on to complete their 30+ mile day.
So why do we do it? Because it feels so good to stop? Possibly because the food tastes absolutely wonderful whenever we have a town stop. The views sometimes are fantastic, but if I had to analyze a typical trail day, I'd say the first four hours are pretty nice, we feel good, views are good, not hot yet. The next three are so-so. from 2:30 to 4pm is usually pretty awful. Too hot, we are tired.It's uphill - don't know why, but this seems to be the case. Four to seven it's cooled down, so conditions are good, but by then our feet are wanting to stop, but we hobble on. Sticking © 2009 backpack45.com in here to foil blog bandits.
This goes on day after day. Finally, weeks later, we are in the car driving home. Our topic of conversation - how we are going to do the next hike, when should we do that missing 300 mile part of the California PCT that we have left - that part that happens to include the Mojave desert. Stay tuned.
Anyway, to the title of this entry. This was not a vacation. It was certainly demanding on our aging bodies. I suppose you could call it one more diet plan such as "Timecheck's PCT Diet", since I can now look down and see my belt buckle, but I think it is valid to classify section or thru-hiking the PCT as an extreme sport.