(apologies, btw. I meant to post this last week, but forgot it in my “drafts” folder, which is, apparently, where old posts go to die. Bad blogger, no cookie.)
I think I talked about the PCT before.
The Pacific Crest Trail is part of the US’s “Triple Crown” for hikers — a trail that runs, literally, the whole width of the USA, north to south, from Canada to Mexico. (The Appalachian Trail on the east coast — the setting for Bill Bryson’s Walk in the Woods — and the Continental Divide Trail that runs from Glacier National Park through New Mexico are the other two.) To say that those three hikes are challenging is like saying the ocean’s just a little damp.
There are seasoned hikers that can’t do them. We’re talking the kinds of folks who breathe gear weights and live in a tent more than in their own homes. The kind of people who can tell you in great detail why a particular recipe for GORP is better than another. The kind that have iron for calves and roughly point-zero-seven bodyfat, because they burn off the rest in the woods.
And for some reason, it’s like some kind of crazy fantasy of mine to hike that thing.
Understand, I still get winded making toast. My pinkies have more fat than a seasoned hiker. I’m asthmatic ferheavenssakes. I’m allergic to pollen. And I’m pretty sure that I would get eaten by a bear during the first five minutes, because that’s just the kind of luck I have.
Once, I tried to bike from Canada to Mexico, in fact. I trained almost daily in Seattle, biking roughly 26+ miles a day. I acquired gear, and learned all about how to camp by the side of the road (just in case). I bought bear balls. (Those Santa-esque jingle bells that go on your pack to alert bears to the free buffet coming their way. Really, all they do is annoy other hikers, but hey…I bought them.) I even climbed mountains with backpacks full of water to strengthen my endurance.
The fourth day out, raccoons tried to steal food from my riding companion’s panniers, and I managed to slip on some wet leaves (in Oregon, no less) and perforate my knee cartilege to the point where docs told me if I rode another mile or so, I’d be walking with a cane for the rest of my life.
Oops. But that’s my luck, folks. Killer raccoons. Seriously.
Still, I seem to think that this is doable. Someday.
Which totally underscores my complete insanity. Not that anyone needed to underscore anything.
Thing is, as I get older, I’m acutely aware of the fact that it’s only getting harder from here. Not to be all age-ist or whatever, but I know in my own case, things that used to be a piece of cake (like riding a bike for 26+ miles, for instance) aren’t as easy as they used to be. My knee grinds. My lungs burst into flames. I have a sudden need for room service and possibly a masseuse.
But then I read a book like Wild (which has been recommended to me by, oh, just about everybody), and I get all hopped up on the I CAN SO DO THIS crack. (Despite the author’s very candid descriptions of how hard it actually is to do, especially as a woman, alone.)
So tonight, I’m doing some trail dreaming.
It’s all dreaming right now. I’m the girl who managed to fall off the curb on her first day at the gym, after all. Going out now would be a recipe for certain death. But that doesn’t stop me from dreaming.
The whole reason I’ve been reticent about doing the trail (or was, back when it was feasible) is that I hate the desert with an all-consuming passion. I’m just not fond of hot, much less being hot on purpose. But what if I just did the Oregon and Washington bits of the trail? It’d be shorter, and since I’m a turtle when it comes to mileage, I might have a shot at making it in a single season. And if I did, then I could totally stow a bike somewhere in Seattle and bike back down the coast (minus the killer raccoons. Experience has taught us much.).
I do know I’m just dreaming.
I’m typing this with a nice dish of ice cream sitting here, in fact. Ice cream I don’t even feel guilty about.
There’s a value to this kind of dreaming though.
This kind of far-reaching dreaming is kind of like finding the stars to navigate by. It’s the old Casey Casem adage: Shoot for the sky. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
There are a thousand reasons why I can’t do something like an epic PCT adventure. Money, time, general level of clutziness that would kill innocent bystanders and myself.
But there’s one good one why I could: because I want to. Because I’m dreaming it now. Because until you quietly say, “I want this,” the universe doesn’t move to make it possible.
So while I’m dreaming with a chocolate sundae, it’s also planting that seed that y’know, maybe the PCT isn’t this year, but I could at least stop intending to go back to the gym and actually go for a change.
And that’s how the big things get done.
I’d love to know what motivates you. Got any big, impossible dreams that may not be all that impossible?