Would you hike the trail again? People have asked us this question many times.
In a word: Yes!
We both loved our PCT experience and would happily/will happily someday set out to hike the trail again.
Simply put, Gabriel would do it next year if he could.
Me, I’ll defer a few more seasons before another long walk. Next summer already has plans for festivals, bicycle rides, beer tastings, 100 highest peak climbs, platelets to donate, picnics at farmers markets and the Ptarmigan Traverse. I look forward to enjoying these pleasures of summer and perhaps intersecting with a favorite spot on the PCT where and when I can savor it for more than just a few steps.
But my main reason for why I won’t hike the trail next year: 2012 is the year I need to give back to the PCT community. We experienced so much generosity and random acts of kindness over those trail miles. It’s almost overwhelming to think about the people who are drawn to the trail to help others in real need or simply to add a little joy to their miles. Giving of themselves. Giving for the joy of helping others. That goodness, that positive energy that I received is what I want to pay forward. So next season’s hikers feel that special connection to the PCT world that lights up the eyes of thru-hikers recalling trail magic and trail angels.
Come hiking season next year I will dedicate a few weekends to trail angeling; hopefully in coordination with fellow 2011 PCTers. I’ve got the menus for a rainy weekend and sunny weekend in mind. And a few apt spots picked out for where a hiker could appreciate an unexpected gift.
In the meantime, I know that I owe the Washington Trails Association, the PCTA, the Back Country Horsemen and informal trail crews a thru-hike’s worth of hours. A debt that will be difficult to repay over the rest of my lifetime, but I’ll chip away at it. If it wasn’t for such organizations and volunteers that maintain the PCT and other trails every year, many miles would fade away or be too damaged hike.