“I got a question for you, another question for you…”  Franz Ferdinand, What She Came For

Whenever I tell someone that I’m taking off to hike the PCT, I inevitably get the same questions.  So I’ve decided to do a Q & A here for anyone I haven’t talked to already. I think these cover the basics…

Are You Going Alone?

Yes and no.

Yes, I will be traveling to the trailhead and starting by myself, and not as part of a coordinated group.  Believe it or not, everyone I’ve asked to walk with me from Mexico to Canada has so far responded with, ‘Are you insane?’.  All but one, but then he went and had foot surgery, so there’s that.

No, I will not be alone out there for very long.  According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association, 5657 long-distance permits were issued in 2016 and this year that number likely increased.  A maximum of 50 permits are issued for each day, so chances are I will be starting out with 49 other people and I’ll certainly be meeting more along the way.

Are You Taking A Gun?

No.  A few very dear people have generously offered to supply me with various small weaponry for my trek, but I’ve decided to go unarmed.  I don’t want the extra weight, and to be honest, I’m not sure having one is going to help.  My instinct when threatened is to throw myself on the ground and scream, not to dig around in my pack for a weapon.  I’d probably be better off training myself to beat someone/some frightening animal with a hiking pole.

Have You Read/Seen ‘Wild’?

Yes.  I’m the cliche and I ain’t ashamed.  I read Wild and said to myself, ‘I can do that too!’  I’m just glad I don’t also need to kick a heroin addiction to be motivated.  By the way, there are a lot of great resources that have much more to do with actually hiking the trail.  Some of my favorites are Halfway Anywhere’s blog, Walking With Wired, The Trek, Pacific Crest Trials: A Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Hikertrash: Life on the Pacific Crest Trail…I could go on.

Why Are You Doing This?

There are so many reasons.   I have 274 podcasts to listen to.  I’m tired of sitting at a desk every day.  I want to be the adventurous person I’ve been hesitant to be.  I think this Earth is amazing and I want to see more of it.  But mainly, I don’t want to wake up twenty years from now and regret not having done this thing that I can’t stop thinking about and wish I would have done a long time ago.  As the saying goes, ‘The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.’  We should all be planting trees!

 Aren’t You Afraid Of Bears?

Yes. Yes, I am. I once watched a video of a mama grizzly charging a rafting guide with the force of an oncoming train and I nearly messed myself. I was nowhere NEAR that bear and I was afraid of it. But I’m not going to let that deter me.  There are some things a person just has to do, no matter what fearful things one encounters along the way. Like learning math.  Or just leaving the house some days.  

I want to make sure that I say that I know that people ask because they are genuinely interested and concerned for my safety and not because they think I’m an idiot who didn’t think this thing all the way through (well maybe some do…I didn’t ask), and I am grateful for that.  Thank you all!

14 Replies to “FAQs”

  1. I’m super proud of you and excited. I would have done it with you if not for Addie. Maybe someday. 😉
    I’ll be watching. I miss you. I miss our friendship despite it all. Be safe and be happy. I can’t wait to sit down with you and hear it all someday. Xoxoxoxoxo – the “other” Jennifer Johnson

  2. So proud of you Jen. You are walking your dream. I’ve never had the desire to hike that much, but there are times when I’ve thought of living in a cabin far in the wilderness with a huge pile of books?. Safe travels and keep on posting!!

  3. I hope this adventure is everything and more that one would hope for. I’ve always found it best not to anticipate but to go with what is presented.

  4. I love this. Can’t wait to read about your adventure. Stay safe, and you’ll be in my prayers.

  5. You are truly amazing! I am so proud of your strength and courage. This will be the most exciting thing you have ever accomplished. God bless you and keep you safe.

  6. what an amazing adventure you are about to experience, wishing you the best in every way…

  7. Good for you ( Can Do Woman)
    My Nephew walked the PCT last year. Excited to follow your posts .
    I drove up 395 last week. There is a ton of snow in the Sierras. Drinking water should be much easier to obtain this year. There is many wonderful people along the path. May your pack be lightened by the knowledge that we wish you the very best.

  8. This is so amazing. I can’t even imagine doing what you’re doing but I’m glad you are and we get to follow you vicariously.

    Holy shit but bears, though. Take extra knickers.

  9. Thanks for taking the time to post your adventure. I have been following different hikers on the PCT and the CDT for 3 years now from my computer chair. I met the Ravens, a family of 4, who are getting ready to head out on the CDT after completing the PCT 2 years ago.. I continue to follow Shepherd as he is getting ready for the AT. He has a blog with a lot of good information about hiking and cycling.

  10. Don’t be too scared of bears. I saw one on my PCT 2015 trip in Vidette meadow as I rounded a bush. It was 20 feet away plumb on the trail. It looked at me with total disinterest as I fumbled for my camera, and just loped off very bored looking. It was a black bear, but more brown than actually black.

    Don’t be too scared of rattlesnakes – they really really want nothing to do with you, so listen out, stay on the path and don’t step over something you can’t see the other side of and you’ll be fine.
    Don’t be too scared of mountain lions – they don’t see humans as prey. If you do see one, tell everyone because you will be an instant celebrity.
    Don’t be too scared of bears – any interest they may show is in your food, not you.

    Almost certainly an mishap involving these animals arise from our own poor planning or understanding of their nature, so respect everything and fear nothing……except for mosquitoes. Little B********s. And wasps. Oh, and bees. Actually anything with a sharp ass or nose!

    Seriously, you’re going to be fine.

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