Hiking the good hike

It’s only two months until I step out of my office or the last time, get on the tube and, a few days later, fly to LA to set things in motion for my thru hike. I’ve nearly finished collecting my gear together, I’m stronger physically than I’ve been, but something has happened since I started planning this thing which I couldn’t have prepared for – a Trump presidency. After the election results I questioned whether or not I wanted to go ahead with my thru hiker at all. Not that the political situation her is much better – it’s going to be equally difficult to leave my activism in London, and I feel a lot of guilt for planning a six month absence from the projects I’ve been involved in here.  Nonetheless, I quickly came to the conclusion that I’m not going to let The Orange One stop me. All along this hike has been about taking some of the power back which has been taken from me, but I do feel less safe, as a solo woman hiking in a country where the president tells men it’s okay to assault women.

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My major concerns for a Trump presidential term are his rampant racism, particularly his attitudes towards migrants (I’m sure I don’t need to explain why) and his completed disregard for the environment. I also have questions like what should I do if I come across a Trump voter on the trail? Impale them with my hiking pole? Try and reason with them? Chuck Mckeever wrote an article for The Trek a last month about this, it’s called Thru-hiking in the age of Trump and you should read it. He talks about white privilege and how hikers can challenge racism and far right views on the trail. It’s refreshing to see people in the thru-hiking community talking about this, it’s about time we did. The comment section is pretty horrendous though. You can also find more on this subject from previous PCT thru hiker Carrot Quinn’s blog.

Yesterday as I marched against deportations in my local community I could feel hope, maybe not much, but some, and it’s worth fighting for. It’s cliched but I want to give something back with my hike. It was always something I wanted to do for myself, and it still is, but in light of recent political events I’ve started to think more about fundraising whilst I hike. A few wealthy-ish associates here have asked me how they can donate, assuming I’d be fundraising. It seems like a good opportunity to make some cold hold cash for places where it’s needed most. I need to sort out the specifics but I’m hoping to fundraise for an environmental charity, probably one with a relationship to Standing Rock and indigenous environmental rights, I’ll also give a proceed to the PCTA. I’ll give more details when I know more.

 

 

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Finding out about the Pacific Crest Trail was like a light going off in my brain, just a quick and calm realisation of ‘ohhh, this is what I need to do’. A thousand hikers have said this before me but I hope that says more about the trail than it does about how cliched my thought patterns are.

In spring 2016 I’m about to finish my degree. I have a place on a masters course starting a few months later that I don’t truly want to accept, but I have. I’m doing well in school about to graduate, but I’ve lived in London for three years and I’m exhausted, all the time, my mental health feels like sheet glass.

I keep seeing this book Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis in Foyles and thinking I need to pick up that book sometime (despite the Lena Dunham quote on the front) but it’s a hardback and expensive, full price. I read the blurb and it feels significant. I pick it up and start reading it on the tube, I continue reading it at home. I reach the part where Matis finds out about the Pacific Crest Trail and decides to hike it, and the aforementioned, cliched moment hits. I’d never heard of the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2650 mile hiking trail stretching border to border, Mexico to Canada. I’d never even heard of long distance hiking, not on this scale but it makes a lot of sense to me.

When I made the decision to hike the PCT I had a limited experience hiking, I’m not an outdoorsy or athletic person. I used to do multi-day hikes with school, wild camping in the Brecon Beacons and Dartmoor, but never more than 40 miles or so. I’d day hiked in the USA, in Arizona and Yosemite, and a tiny section of the John Muir Trail earlier this spring.

I don’t know where the urge to hike comes from, it feels instinctual, something deep and ancient. I read somewhere, I don’t remember where, that thru hikers don’t want to hike a long distance trail, they need to. Which succinctly summarises how I feel about the PCT. Foremost I have to hike it, it feels like my body made the decision and my mind just followed. Secondly I do want to hike it, more than anything.

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