With preparation for my journey well under way and only three days until I take my first step on the trail, I feel like I am racing against time. The amount of planning and the depth of details required to prepare for a 5-month trip is nothing less than overwhelming. There were days I felt like I was on top of things and had my lists of tasks in order. Lately, I just feel like a crazy mess, running around like a Tasmanian devil. I thought the hardest part of my preparation phase would be moving out of my beautiful home in Cle Elum. Shortly after I arrived to my family’s house in California to start my “final” preparations, I soon learned I was wrong about the hardest part being over. I had more on my To Do list to get done in two weeks than I had accomplished in months at home in Washington.

The list

So what is on my To Do list? My tasks include: finalizing my daily mileage plan (how many miles I will hike each day on the trail, about where I will stop to set up my tent each night, and the distance between water sources through California’s drought ridden deserts), buying organic food items in bulk at Costco while people stare at me when I pass by with my shopping cart, buying the right gear, then returning that gear to buy different gear (yes, the staff at the local REI knows me by name), making the mailman at my parent’s house despise me for causing him/her to deliver packages to me almost daily from Amazon with more food, and finally, saying, “See you later” to my friends and family. I have tested out my stove and tent in various weather conditions. I dehydrated homemade organic meals for days on end, in the name of nutrition. I bonded with my ex-military big brother over conversations of compasses, topographical maps, and knives. I have worn my friends and family with favors and help in packaging food for my resupply boxes. One thing that was NOT included on the list, is the stress of stuffing all of my shiny new gear and clothing items into my cool new backpack, only to find it’s filled to the max…with my week of food and empty water bladders sitting on the floor outside of my pack. Sigh. Sometimes in life, the things that seem like a no brainer are the most stressful.

Home is Where the Heart Is

I yearn for my feet to hit the trail under the weight of my pack. I feel desperate to begin. Sunday cannot come soon enough. This is not because I am eager to see the beauty of the desert, to feel the warmth of the sunshine on my skin, or to eat my delicious trail snacks I have forbidden my mouth to enjoy until the trail. However, I am very much looking forward to all of those delights. Mostly, I cannot wait to take my first step on the trail so that the preparation phase will be over. I can stop sleeping at other people’s houses and asking for favors as I encroach on my loved one’s lives. My fears will be replaced with a real experience. I will finally be able to call myself a Pacific Crest Trail hiker. I will finally be home.

Elizabeth Ketterer of Cle Elum is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this spring and summer and will be sharing stories about her experience in a series of columns in the Outdoors section of the Daily Record.

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