Are you crazy???!? Why are you doing this?
I actually don’t get asked this too often, I think Canadians are too polite. But my girlfriend, family, and close friends sure hear it though. I’ll attempt to answer that, although I’m not always too clear on it myself.
I get to be in true wilderness all the time. One of my favorite hikes close to home is the West Coast Trail. The best thing about it is being halfway through the trip and knowing that to get to this spot, anyone I meet has hiked for days. If I don’t see anyone, I can enjoy the solitude of being there. On a long hike like the CDT, that feeling is true almost every day.
Meeting people is suddenly a joy (for an introvert like me, this is not normally the case). A chance meeting on the trail can turn into an intense 2 hour conversation, due to both sides being starved for human contact. I’m not sure if that will happen as often on the CDT, but on the Pacific Crest Trail, I met at least a hundred thru-hikers (this is slang for “people attempting to hike all of the trail in one season”).
A long hike is a walking meditation – when my body is incredibly tired; my brain is fried from keeping me “found” on the trail, what’s left is some sort of subconscious monologue that I can never access any other way. Ideas bubble up to my consciousness that I can’t place in my previous thinking. I’m walking along thinking about the next turn on the trail and suddenly I think “maybe I should get a part-time job working at a hiking shop, it would help me be more social”. Where did that come from? (I didn’t follow up on that one, by the way). I feel like I returned from the PCT a changed person.
Finally, a long trail is a huge personal challenge. Clichéd but true. When I decided to do the PCT, I didn’t know about any of the other stuff. What I knew was that there was a trail that started in Mexico and ended near Vancouver. I thought, hey, why couldn’t I do that? We’d drive by Manning Park (where the northern terminus of the PCT is) and I’d be thinking “it’s right there!” I read more and more and eventually realized I was just going to do it, damn the consequences, and no real reason why except that the trail was there.
I don’t know if the above adds up to an answer for “Why”, but that’s what I’ve got.
I’m walking to raise funds for the Victoria Hospice Nepal Twinning Project.
Members of Victoria Hospice have travelled to Nepal to teach classes and give instruction at the bedside. Last year, members of the team took turns teaching and working at their hospice from September until April.