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Thru- Hiking

On the 14th of April 2014  I flew out to San Diego to begin my first long distance hike
I was about to start hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

At the age of 52  with nil hiking experience  and with two dodgy knees I had decided to hike one of  Americas gruelling long-distance foot paths

The Pacific Crest Trail is 2,663 mi (4,286 km) long and ranges in elevation from just above sea level at the Oregon–Washington border to 13,153 feet (4,009 m) at Forester Pass in the Sierra Nevada. The route passes through 25 national forests and 7 national parks.


I would be hiking and living on the trail carrying all my supplies in my backpack.
Coming off the trail every 5 to six days to resupply before re-joining.
I had estimated  that this  hike would  take me approx. five to six months to complete.
I  started on the Mexican border , slogged through  the desert  in intense heat and little water, Then I headed towards the Sierras, The Sierras are a chain of mountain ranges that consists of an almost continuous sequence of such ranges that form the western “backbone.
The Sierra runs 400 miles (640 km) north-to-south, and is approximately 70 miles (110 km) across east-to-west.
Here I encounter all types of snow and conditions, ranging rivers, postholing , ice, Many times I had the   crap scared out of me and was relieved  to be over this range before heading into Oregon then on to Washington and  finally the Canadian border

The Inspiration 

One day I was getting a newspaper when a book on the shelf caught my eye
It was Called “the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry”
Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else’s life.
It was such an uplifting story and even though fiction I felt I would like to do something similar, but I did not have a goal or purpose to do such a feat

Several month later  I found out that an old  college friend  was  currently hiking the Camino de Santiago . A 500-mile walk from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port near Biarritz in France to Santiago I was impressed and again  I  thought  this is something that I would really like to do , but  didn’t have the funds or motivation 
Whilst at work one day  I managed to snap my wrist opening  a door.
After being plastered up I  spent several days  sat at home watching day time telly, and was beginning  to go stir  crazy.
To  escape  I caught the bus  to my  mums,  for a change of scenery. Whilst  there I  flicked through a  Sunday  magazine. And was  fascinated by an article in the Sunday Mail’s “You magazine”   about a lady  called Cheryl Strayed.

Link below
My 1000 mile walk happiness by Cheryl-Strayed

Wow! What a story,  “Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found”, Which is her story of her three-month, 1,100-mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), from the Mojave Desert in Nevada, through California and Oregon to Washington State.

 At just 26 and a first-time hiker, she walked the arduous trail largely alone, blistered and bruised, hungry, dirty and exhausted, wearing the same set of clothes for weeks, and frugally eking out a few dollars for food. It’s also the incredibly honest and deeply moving account of how, at 22, she suddenly lost her mother to cancer, then lost herself in grief – destroying her own early marriage and dabbling in drugs – before finally piecing herself back together in the wilderness of Western US.

I  needed to read the whole  story  and as soon as I got home I was straight on to Amazon and ordered the book. I was so excited  when it plopped through my letter box
I quickly raced through Cheryl’s memoirs, I was hooked

This book has since been made into a film starring Reese Witherspoon
I think it’s a great story with the PCT’s amazing  and breathtaking backdrop.

The Wild Movie Trailer

Thank you Cheryl Strayed
As  it was this book   that inspired me to do my first Thruhike
I completed  my  thruhike  in September 2014
I have to say,  like Cheryl in her book I started green and  with far too much  stuff  and therefore an overweight pack.
For the first few days my  language  was blue, with sentences like!

“OMG  what have I done”
“ I quit my job flew 5,200 miles  and I just can’t  do  it”
Expletives expletives  expletives  !!!!

But I didn’t give up, although  it  was an extreamly  steep learning curve.
I ended up  throwing gear away that had cost me a lot  of money  but  was the wrong  type of gear to carry on the PCT. Several shakedowns later and the loss of  ££££ and LBs
I was  a lot happier  and began to enjoy it . I actually knew what I was doing.

After 2 hikes down I love  so if you ever get the change  even if  it’s  only a week’s  try it
The thing about thru hikes  is  that the other hikers that you meet all have the same goal and  that’s to get to Canada   and so they  are encouraging, helpful, inspiring  and many other great words
and it’s fair to say that whilst hiking the PCT.  I only ever met one wanker,

During my PCT hike  I heard great  tails  of two other large trails  in the USA the Appalachian trail  and  Continental Divide trail.
A lot of hikers try to complete all three of these amazing trails giving themselves  blagging rights to say that they  are a Triple Crowner .

Once  the  Pacific Crest  trail was completed,  I began researching the Appalachian trail,  but it would  take me several years to save the money to allow me  to go.
In April  2018 I flew Out to Atlanta  to start  my hike of the Appalachian ,completing the trail in September 2018

Wow I have to say I thought that the Appalachian trail was a lot tougher than the PCT,  if you see a mountain or hill then  your going over it and in several places there  was hand over hand climbing which came as a bit of a shock!

I would say that I found the AT  more sociable  as hikers tended to gather at and around the many huts, whereas the PCT.  you just looked for a flat spot !
Both trails  are completely  different, I thought the PCT was possibly easier  to hike due  to it the elevation of the trail

My Video Blog can be found here
Snailtrainers Appalachian Hike 2018

 

So, what is next ?

I would love to hike the Central Divide Trail (CDT)  I have my kit I think  that i have enough money

So, who knows !

 

Hiking Q and A’s 

Do you have to be fit, young or strong to do a thru-hike?
I am not, but you do have to really, really want it.

How much does it cost to thru hike
I have seen various figures mentioned? My hiking budget for the PCT was £3000.
This does not include my kit, airfares etc. Just food and accommodation and a little for  excahnge kit (repairs)
The rule of thumb seems to be allow  a £1000 a month,  although some spend  far less others far more .
when I hiked in 2014  the £ went a long way not so much in 2018  when I spent  closer to  £6000.

What is your Resupply Strategy?
As I  am  a BRIT my resupply strategy is quite basic I brought as I went, but from some towns I brought food and send it ahead Knowing that there could be a poor selection at that location **

What is the most important advice you would give to next year’s thru-hikers?
Get your base weight down, I carried far too much
(base weight is everything that you carry except food, water or fuel).
I typically hiked on my own, it was my own personnel challenge , but  if  you are  going  to  buddy  up  then hike with people who make you laugh, and never, EVER complain. (Advice from Carrot Quinton)

TIP
Yes, it is beneficial to get your base weight down but don’t be anal.
You want to be happy, warm and comfortable, not miserable cold, and wet just to save a few ounces

Why  Thru Hike ?
After reading Cheryl’s Street’s book, I decided I was going hike the PCT ,it was for my own personal challenge; I was going to walk it on my own, experiencing freedom, excitement and fear. Challenge and adventure are words that may begin to describe ‘why’ I decided to do hike.

For me, it is hard to understand ‘why’ you would not do something like this if you had the health, finances and freedom to do so. I did not have the finances, but I was going and hope to finish the trail before I run out of money.

An experienced PCT hiker named Billy Goat once said
“If you have to ask, then you’ll never understand.”

5 thoughts on “Home

  1. Well! Well done Dodge! Its a great start, an your blog and website are fantastic. We will so look forward to following you on your Big Adventure. Amazing, making us get itchy feet here. Mmm, what happened with the very Overpriced Beers? Presume that the 2nd one was a half….ha ha. Will be missing you this summer but hope you find a decent Pub Quiz somewhere along the trail. Terry is on standby for some questions…probably. Look after them knees (honestly start taking some vits, omega oils really help). And the blisters….best advice, Do not ignore. As soon as it starts to hurt put some plasters on, extra socks, anything, just don’t go thru the pain because it doubles the next day, deal with it immediately or it gets a lot worse. Apart from that, enjoy, its a big world out there, most of us never see it, we just watch 2nd hand on our tv etc. And you are actually out there doing this. Lucky you, brave you. Enjoy, we are all wishing it was us. Have fun, be safe and see the world. Lots love V K

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