Weird. challenging. Beautiful. Scary. A mix of bad things to deal with, or as my over-positive former boss used to call them “challenges.” That guy is either a millionaire, or a broken down hobo talking to himself in catch phrases. If anybody knows Mike Scarr, tell him I miss him. I hope he’s really successful, he was too slight of build to be a survivor on the street.
Let me start off by saying that life is like Jiu Jitsu. It’s not the other way around, because from my perspective, life could learn a lot from Jiu Jitsu, and frankly, it’s not as important. Or as cool. However, it is filled with moments of triumph and mastery, followed quickly by pain, humiliation, and quiet, private tears. Hiking the PCT is a lot like Jiu Jitsu, although it’s not that much like life, except in some ways. Okay, it is, fine, but it involves much more walking than most of us would be comfortable with. Hiking the PCT is one of those things that most people tell you that they admire, and would like to try one day, and then they sort of back away slowly, trying not to take their eyes off you, but also not making direct, potentially perceived as a threat, eye contact. There’s a madness to these endeavors, one that alienates us from most of the people we encounter. There’s also a lot of hours.
I train about 10 hours a week, sometimes more, sometimes less, but let’s say it’s forty a month, or 480 a year. No, I don’t take the holidays off. That’s open mat season. I expect, if I stay on track, don’t get injured, come to my senses, or fall in love with fly fishing, which, let’s be honest is a much more appropriate pastime for a man of my age and athletic prowess, I will earn a black belt in the ridiculously named Gentle Art in about 11 or 12 years. So, roughly, 5300 hours of training will yield unto me the god like powers that all black belts in BJJ seem to possess.
Yay! Jen, my beloved hiker of misty mountains, walks about eight hours a day, six days a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but let’s call it, for simplicity in math, 48 hours a week. She anticipates finishing this madness, baring coming to her senses, taking up gardening, or, as others have done failing to complete their through hike, writing a best selling novel and getting really famous people to play her in the movie adaptation. Note that Wild, written by Cheryl Strayed, started in Mojave, and finished in Oregon. Less than half the trail. Also, Bill Bryson, who is awesome, hiked less than half of the Appalachian Trail, and wrote a book about it. Reese Witherspoon played Cheryl, and Robert Redford played Bill. Yeah, this guy, played by Robert Redford. Jeesus.
My point being, and I do have one even if I had to scroll up to remember what it was, is that Jen is hiking about 200 hours a month, for up to six months. That’s over 1000 hours, if she moves quickly. That’s a lot of time to put into something that doesn’t pay you anything in money and few people actually understand. Which is exactly why it’s so damn cool.