[pct-l] For the noob

Shian Sung shian.sung at gmail.com
Thu May 2 11:59:25 CDT 2013


Thanks for the great post (as always). You are one of the many people that
make wading through the bad posts on the PCT-L so worth it due to your
writing and the way you impart opinions and knowledge.

I hiked the AT in 2005 as a "noob" - grew up in the city and didn't have
too many opportunities to get into the outdoors. Spent a lot of time
reading everything I could get my hands on and bought all the "right" gear
but only did a few overnights to practice. Learned very quickly that
reading only gets you so far, and that learning some things like how your
tent sags and collapses in the rain if you don't set it up correctly or
exactly how cold you sleep or just how to walk in the woods without
tripping over everything are all things that can be fixed through
experience. And I learned very quickly that my boots were too small and
foot pain accompanied me the entire rest of my thru-hike.

It surprised me how much people who had more experience than I on the trail
assumed I knew the things I didn't know. Embarassing story - when my water
filter stopped working and I thought it was defective, someone asked
sarcastically if I had cleaned off the filter yet. I didn't even know I
needed to do that - should have read the instructions. There were a million
things to learn. Maybe if I had waited until I knew everything about my
gear and my body I would have never started. I got to learn from a lot of
mistakes. Sometimes you learn things the hard way. That's OK.

Ernie mentions willpower. I think willpower and the wisdom to listen to
others more experienced than you is all you REALLY need to do the PCT. It's
not the wild country. It's a National Scenic Trail and was designed to be
fairly easy to walk. Since the AT i've been a backpacking guide and a
mountain search and rescue team member and have seen a lot of people in
very bad shape staffing medical tents for ultramarathons all over SoCal.
I'm a huge proponent of knowing how to use a map & compass and being smart
in the outdoors. Common sense is what is lacking and that has no
discrimination across what years you did the PCT or what generation or if
you're a noob or not. I've seen very experienced backpackers get in very
bad trouble due to the lack of it.

-Barrel Roll

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