Pacific Crest Trail prep – the nerves and butterflies

It’s just 6 weeks until I fly from London to Seattle (1st of July 2019)  to begin the massive adventure of walking the Pacific Crest Trail.

This is my third – and penultimate monthly blog about my prep for my SOBO (south bound) PCT attempt.

In this blog I touch on both the factual / logistical elements of preparing for a trek like this, and the very real feelings of nerves and excited butterflies.

I’ve found this blog the hardest one to write thus far. Its content is dependant on my working out details of food resupply and timings.

Whilst part of me quite enjoys geeking out on logistics, I also find it hard, and so I procrastinate seeking easier rewards.

(My February prep blog HERE and my March one HERE). Continue reading

It Takes a Village. Pacific Crest Trail Preparation Blog No. 2

On the 1st July this year, I’m leaving the UK to head off for a massive adventure. It’s just over 3 months away and time seems to be passing very quickly.

Last month I decided to start a monthly Pacific Crest Trail Preparation blog, with hope that it will be of interest and also that I’ll find some accountability in the telling, to help me get my laid back arse into gear.

(If you missed it you can read my February one HERE).

This is to be a real life, non sugar coated, telling of how I feel as I prepare for something that scares the life out of me! (Today’s blog is pretty tame – talk of pants and bras is as ‘real’ as I go. Next month’s might get more interesting!)

I’ve named this blog “It Takes a Village” as that’s what I’ve learned and felt this month. I’ve felt an unexpected, and therefore all the more precious, sense of interest, care and kindness and assistance. Continue reading

“I’m doomed. I’ve lost my tent”. Limbic Lies Part 2

“Crap. It should be here.

 Where is it?

 How long have I got before the cold kicks in?

 Why isn’t it here?”

This is the story that my ego and pride didn’t want to tell you. But in the telling, I hope I hope to convey something useful about how to soothe a stressed mind.

It’s the story of how on a dark, wet winters night, I lost my tent in a remote wild Highland glen.

Story 1 – Are you sitting comfortably?

It’s a windy Saturday night evening, unseasonally mild for February. At 600 meters of elevation there’s a fierce south westerly. I’ve found shelter for my tent behind a grassy knoll, near a Loch with a view out onto the ‘witches hat’-like peak of Sgurr Mor.

I’m here to test out my new super light-weight tent that I’ve bought for my Pacific Crest Trail adventure. But I’m also here because I’ve felt a familiar pull to wild camp alone again. The winter’s felt long and I’ve missed camping out.

I’m in the Fannichs, a mountainous area West of Inverness, on the Ullapool road. I’ve pitched my tent with no problems. It’s only 6pm and darkness has just descended. I decide to practice some night navigation before bunkering down for the night. I noticed an enticing small hill near me as I pitched my tent. Continue reading

Limbic lies – why my brain tells me I can’t navigate.

My Mum tells a story of me as a little girl. I was learning to play the recorder in primary school and being small for my age my fingers wouldn’t stretch the bottom holes. At home  I cried in frustration and although my Mum tried to soothe me as she explained it just wasn’t possible for me – I kept trying.

I was a determined wee thing.

I wish I could say this was an ethic I carried into all areas of my life but in some areas I’ve given up on myself.

I can’t read maps

I’ve always given up on myself when it comes to navigation. I held a belief that I’ve a poor sense of direction. And various well intentioned friends have light heartedly confirmed this to me over the years.

In my mid 20s I worked as an Aid Worker and I lived in various villages and cities in Africa and Pakistan. I struggled with the geography of our various projects and relied heavily on my colleagues and drivers to help me navigate.  Rather than working to improve my spatial awareness and spatial memory I instead put energy into hiding this shortcoming. Continue reading

Pacific Crest Trail Prep. Feb 2019. A false sense of security?

On the 1st July this year, I’m leaving the UK to head off for my biggest adventure to date: to walk the Pacific Crest Trail.

It’s only 4.5 months away but I’m massively procrastinating so I’ve decided to write a monthly blog about the trip. I hope it will be of interest and that it will give me accountability, a sense of momentum and help me get my arse into gear!

It’s going to be a no holds barred, honest reflection.

What am I doing? What’s the Pacific Crest Trail?

The short version:   A bloody long walk down the west coast of America.

The longer version:

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2653 mile long distance walking trail. It ranges in elevation from just above sea level at the Oregon-Washington border to 13,153 feet (4009m) at Forester Pass in the Sierra Nevada. It passes through 7 national parks including the John Muir Trail. Most of the trail is in wilderness far from towns.

The majority of folks hike north bound, from the southern terminus on the US-Mexico border to the northern terminus on the US-Canada border. However I’m hiking it south bound.

South bounding suits me better, it’s a later start date. North bounding requires an April start. I’ve work commitments including our Treks for Wellbeing and my Unstuckified Retreat until the end of June. Only about 10% of through hikers south bound so there’s more opportunity for solitude and reflection, which suits me. Continue reading

Walking home

“We are all just walking each other home”*

*This title comes from a book of the same name by Ram Das.

My imagination and concept of love has much changed these last few years.

I’d like to show you through these two short stories of friendship-love from beautiful long trails I walked in Scotland last year.

This first story picks up where my blog “Carried: Finding strength when you’ve none left” ended.

April 2018, Day 4 of the Cape Wrath Trail.

It was day 4 of my 16 day trek of the Cape Wrath Trail. I’d just finished the 30 km walk from Clunnie to Kintail, when I realised I had an additional 5 km road section to walk to get to my accommodation and to meet my friend.

My only focus had been getting to the road. That was enough. It was all I had the capacity for.

On the hill I’d fleetingly imagined that Lindsay would pick me up or that I could hitch hike. But now I’m here I’ve no phone signal. And there’s nothing. No one.

My flat, throbbing feet search for the soft cushioning of grass amidst what has become tarmac hell.

I plod on and pass a caravan park. Ah yes!  I’ll meet some folks from the caravan park who’ll give me a lift.

A couple come into view, walking towards me. As they get closer I notice more:  They’re maybe in their 50s but with an age defying outdoor glow. Sports casual – he in chinos and she in jeans, both fleece clad, walking a small dog. They must be staying at the caravan park. They must have a car.

“You look tired”, they greet me. “Have you come a long way?”

I tell them my route and acknowledge I’m tired, trying to look even more pathetic.

Pity me. Pity me. Offer me a lift.

Continue reading