As I write this, I feel as though my countdown is mocking me: 39 days. Just over five weeks to earn every penny that I can before quitting my job and having no income for at least 5 months. 39 days to complete a to-do list that just continues to grow, regardless of how many things are crossed off. 39 days to train, stretch and strengthen my body so that I can start at a decent pace in the desert. 39 days to convince myself that despite all of my insecurities, all of the skeptical and worried responses from others, and all of the things the trail could throw at me, I CAN do this.
Since I started planning this trip (many, MANY months ago), I have had a “So You Want to Hike the PCT?” checklist, broken down into a rough timeline of when I wanted to have things complete. I have diligently been working through this checklist: purchasing gear, making meals, getting rid of unwanted junk, finding health insurance, obtaining permits, etc etc etc. For a while it felt like I was on track and making steady progress, but as my adventure approaches, suddenly there seems to be hundreds of items to go on that list that I hadn’t thought of and that I can’t possibly complete in time. I have always overcommitted to things in my life, spreading myself too thin, and so while I’m trying to organize my life for this crazy thing, I am also organizing a major environmental awareness and education event for my town. I am the president of my local women’s league, and we have two board meetings, two business meetings and a fundraiser before I leave. I volunteer at a therapeutic equestrian center where I shovel stalls every week until I fly out. I can hardly find time to make dinner let alone pack resupply boxes or build a “Worst Case Scenario” file.
Knowing that I am going to be unemployed for the entirety of the trail plus an unforeseeable amount of time after that is daunting. I’m not particularly worried about getting a job after the trail, but I do worry about running out of money while I’m out there. I’ve been working all the overtime that my company will allow me to work and avoiding unnecessary expenses like eating out. I became a “professional” dog walker to earn a few extra bucks while wearing my pack around the neighborhood- training for my hike with someone else’s pup. I’ve been selling things on Facebook marketplace and Craigslist, and have even been toying with the idea of donating plasma. I am eternally grateful to all of you wonderfully generous folks who have supported me by being my trail angels on my registry and I am so excited to get out there and take some of those side trips, relax my weary body at the hostels and indulge at the buffets, but I have a creeping anxiety as well.
Despite my extensive research, my experience and training, my obsessive planning and all your support, I am still, deep down, freaking out. I can’t give a definite reason as to WHY I am freaking out- there is no specific fear that I have or identifiable worry- just a dense fog of anxiety that is lurking ominously on the horizon. I feel wholly unprepared for this venture but I can’t think of anything else that I should be doing to be better prepared. It feels like there is still so much to do and so little time to get it all done… Then again, many people put HALF as much time into planning as I have and still make it to Canada. I think once I am on the plane to San Diego, I’ll be fine. I just need to not have a meltdown between now and then!
For the record, I drafted this post with 45 days left, but *ahem* didn’t have time to finish it until now. What a surprise.