Russell

Mile 0

 
 
 

(1) Where are you from and how would you like to be identified?

I have lived in Phoenix, AZ for many years but grew up in Des Moines, WA near Seattle, so for me, this journey was a sort of homecoming.

 

(2) Thinking back to your “day-1 self,” what is going through your mind at the start?

I was excited and hesitant and anxious and nervous all at once. I was ready to get on trail and start the journey, but I also didn’t want to leave my family. I said goodbye to my son the day before and now I was saying goodbye to my wife and daughter knowing that I may not see them until sometime over four months later. My bag was packed but something was misplaced, I was sure of it, so I kept going through the loose stuff I had with me that my wife was taking back home. I think I was just delaying the start to delay saying goodbye. There was a sort of disbelief too. This day, this start, was something I had been dreaming of and hoping for, for a long time. Not all dreams come true, but this dream was. Originally my daughter was going to hike the trail with me but for various reasons she wasn’t able to. She was excited for me, but I could tell she was also disappointed and sad she wasn’t going. I felt sad for her and for myself, that she wouldn’t be walking with me.

 

(3) Do you feel ready?

I feel ready. I’ve done a lot of hiking and backpacking the last few years and had already hiked about 900 miles this year in preparation. I’m not concerned about the rigor of being on trail at the start, I’m confident in my ability to walk at least for a month, after that I have no experience.

 

(4) What are you most afraid of?

For me, I’m afraid I’ll be clumsy and injure myself and will have to get off trail because of that. I’m concerned about how my wife and family will be in my absence, but they know I’ll get home as soon as I’m able if something happens where I’m needed. I’m also worried about food; that I’ll be able to find the types of food I like to eat when I resupply.

 

(5) What are you most confident about?

I’m confident I can complete the trail, that I’m physically and mentally ready and capable to do so.

 

(6) Does anybody not want you to go?

A few days before my start, my wife mentioned she wished I wasn’t going; that I’d be gone for such a long time. I replied that she never asked me not to go, never once for how many times we discussed it. She said that she would never do that, never not let me go.

 

(7) What made you decide to take this hike?

The last few years I’ve been going on longer and longer hikes. I love being outdoors walking. I find the simplicity of each day invigorating: rise, walk, sleep and eat, that’s about it. I like the way my body feels when in motion and then how easy it is to relax when the motion stops. I decided on this specific hike because I would be walking from Mexico to my childhood home. To me, that was very compelling.

 

(8) What do you expect to get from it?

I really don’t have any expectations on what I’ll get from it. I’m not searching for anything and I’m not running from anything, I’ll just be doing something I love to do.

 

(9) Have you ever done anything like this before?

I have but not to this scale. I have done several hikes in Grand Canyon and I section hiked the Arizona Trail in 2015. In 2016 I hiked the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier and the Tahoe Rim Trail. In 2017 I hiked the Colorado Trail, a test for this trail. The CT is ~500 miles so I figured if halfway through I was ready to quit, the PCT probably wouldn’t be a good idea and if I enjoyed the whole trail and could have kept going, then the PCT probably would be a good idea. I also wanted to get a better idea on how my body would react to weeks on trail and to being at altitude.

 

(10) What have you done to prepare?

As mentioned, in 2017 I hiked the Colorado Trail to get an idea if I’d be happy on the trail for an extended time and to see how my body would perform. So far this year before starting the PCT, I had hiked about 900 miles, probably 1/3 of it carrying 25lbs.

 

(11) What are you looking forward to the most?

I was looking forward to summitting several peaks: San Jacinto, Mt. Baden-Powell (I’ve volunteered for Boy Scouts, so this was important to me), and Mt. Whitney. Seeing the Sierra, Burney Falls, then the part of the PCT shared with the TRT that I hiked in 2016. I was especially looking forward to Washington and seeing Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and Glacier Peak. Oh, I was also looking forward to seeing first hand, Hiker Heaven and then Case de Luna, where I’d dance for my class bandana.

(12) When/where did you leave the trail?

I finished the trail on September 12, my 132nd day, at Manning Park, B.C. I’m really proud that I was able to make it straight through, end to end without skipping any parts.

 

(14) Would you like to add anything else?

This is sort of a follow up to question 6, does anybody not want me to go. Throughout the hike, I’d call my wife as frequently as I was able. We’d have really nice conversations as she’d want to hear how I was doing and how my hike was going and I’d want to hear how she was doing and what was going on at home. When we’d say goodbye, I’d always tell her I missed her because I did. Occasionally, she’d respond that it was my own fault that I did. That is true, me missing her was self-imposed. It was my choice to be on the trail and I could leave it and go home any time I wanted to.