Seven years ago today, I set off hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. As this day has been drawing near, I’ve been thinking about the hikers whose 2020 dream of hiking the PCT has been postponed. Those who put their lives on hold, quit their jobs, gave up their apartments, sold their houses, and freed up six months of their life to make space for the trail, only to be told they have to stay at home for an undetermined period of time while parts of the trail remain closed.
Of course, compared to what’s happening around the world right now, missing out on hiking a trail may not be classified as a ‘big deal’. But comparisons aside, hiking the PCT is a lifelong dream that requires an incredible amount of planning and sacrifice to carve out six months of your life to walk those miles. My heart goes out to the ‘should have been’ class of 2020. I hope their dreams will be fulfilled in the coming years.
I’m hesitant to comment about the current state of the world. I’m tired of hearing the same rhetoric repeated. All I can say is how grateful I am to live in Canada, to still have a job, and to live in a small town where I can get outside and not bump into hoards of people.
What I’ve found fascinating is the way my emotions have been shifting over the course of the past few weeks. Like many others, it’s been a rollercoaster journey of ups and downs, with sudden turns and general jerkiness around every uncertain corner.
I’ve caught myself looking too far ahead on many occasions, and the emotional turmoil connected with this reminds me of my months on the trail. At the very beginning of the PCT, it was impossible to imagine how I could hike 2,650 miles over six months. Not only were my feet and shoulders crying out by day two, but the thought of repeating the same daily routine day after day, even after a week, seemed unbearable.
The scenario now is quite different, of course. But imagining the current state of the world, and our limited routines stretching on for months at a time is daunting. For me, being trapped indoors for months is as tough as living outside in the elements. But the way I’m approaching this seemingly endless timeframe is similar to the trail. I’m taking it one day, one week, and one month at a time. At least I’m trying to. Looking ahead is doing me no favours.
I had a really good feeling going into 2020. When I look back over the last fourteen years of my life, there has been a distinct pattern to my seven-year cycles. 2005 was a low year, one of my worst for a variety of reasons. But in 2006, I bounced back, landing my first major event job in Australia and then moving to the Middle East for the Asian Games. Six years later, my entire life seemed to unravel again in 2012. But in 2013, I hiked the PCT, which was, and still is, one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
Six years after the trail, I hit a low again in 2019. But I managed to climb out of that hole over the course of the last twelve months, and at the start of this year, I found myself in one of the most stable and satisfying states of life I’ve ever been in.
I’m still hopeful 2020 will contain some of the same safe gifts that 2006 and 2013 delivered. I have no idea how life will look once we move through this devastating chapter, but there’s always a silver lining. After a year with limited hikers, the PCT will be more beautiful than ever, and if 2020 is anything like 2006 and 2013, there’s sure to be some magic in store.
Praying you and your families are safe and well.
17 thoughts on “Seven-Year Cycles”
Muk Muk…your PCT blog is still my favorite of all time. I haven’t hiked a long trail, maybe one day. In the meantime, however, I love living vicariously through others by reading their stories as they take on the challenge one day at a time. The night of the mountain lions remains one of the most vivid series of blog posts I’ve read about the PCT! Best wishes for a great 2020!
Thanks so much for your message Sean! I still have very frequent flash backs from that mountain lion encounter. It was one of many memorable moments on that glorious trail, good and bad. I hope you are well and I’m grateful for your wishes. Take care!
Hard to believe so much time has passed since the PCT. Nice to hear that you are in a good place, mentally and physically. Hope your writing is progressing, I know you were struggling a bit with that.
Thanks for sharing as always, and take care yourself.
Great to hear from you Tim! It’s wild to think seven years has passed already. I hope you and your family are doing well. I am so grateful for the support and generosity you showed me during my 2013 hike. I will never forget that. I have found my creative spark again with my writing, but what the book will become, I’m still not certain. Time will tell. Best wishes to you! Muk
I can’t believe I have been following you that long and feel I know you really well by now, but you haven’t met me! I have the same feeling about being stuck in doors with our trails closed here in California. I want to go snowshoeing and hiking and get out of the house! We can walk and ride our bikes which helps. Shopping for food is stressful but we are fine and healthy so life is good. This too will pass and we will have our stories to tell. God bless you. Stay healthy and sane!
Thank you Linda! I’m glad to hear you’re still getting out to walk and bike… that is the medicine to maintain sanity for sure! Take care of yourself and thank you for following me over all these years. I really appreciate your support! 🙂
Awwww, Muk Muk … how I loved following you on the PCT. Living vicariously thru you was a highlight for me as well!
Awww, thank you for this message! It makes my heart melt to think of how much support I had out there (and still do)!! Thank you!!
Sending you so much love, Mukmuk! The uncertainty of how bad and how long this pandemic will be has been weighing me down too… This was a good reminder to take a lesson from life on trail. I had a bit of the opposite experience on the PCT since I didn’t have any plans beyond hiking for a few weeks. I really need to channel that 24-year-old mindset again and try to take each day as it comes and not dwell too much on the future, which is mostly out of my control.
Love you Bad Seed! One of the best outcomes of the trail is my gorgeous friendship with you. You are so very dear to me and I know that you can channel that 24-year-old mindset again! You can do anything you put your mind to! xo
Muk Muk, It’s nice to hear that things are good for you in 2020. I just finished “Becoming Odyssa” by Jennifer Pharr Davis which allowed me to re-live my AT hike through her words. Although you said that you’re uncertain what the book will become there are still those of us who are interested in your PCT memoir. Tartan/Bri
Thank you Brian! I’m glad to hear you’re still interested after so much anticipation and delay. I rediscovered my creative passion only recently, and have since found myself working full time. But I do believe my trail story will eventually be told in one form or another, so hang in there! It could be a little while yet! 🙂
Muk Muk! Good to hear/read from you and that everthing is OK over there. Same here i guess. Stay healthy! Liefs
Huub! I have been thinking of you guys a lot during the past few weeks. I’m glad to hear you’re okay, and hope you’re all staying sane and most importantly healthy. Sending my love! 🥰
Oh. my gosh…has really been that long ago that I found you through Leigh …. what a wonder that time was… I kept all of your blogs in my computer so that I could look back on those times…but, fiddlesticks, I can’t find them…a few pop up on YouTube…SO, am I ever glad you are back at it, writing your story of the PCT….I, like so many of us, are looking forward to time when it is in our hands…smiling….I am doing pretty well being confined, though I sure miss seeing my friends…But I am trying to live in-the-moment and not think about how long that this present challenge will keep us all away from each other…I always love “hearing” from you, sweetie…Thanks for sharing with us…I recall all those times of “growing” with you…helped me “grow” too!!! I am loving you from far away in San Diego, California…Your old friend, Barbie!!!
Dearest Barbie, I am so relieved to hear you’re surviving being cooped up and not seeing your friends. I love that you are trying to live in the moment and not think in terms of when ‘this’ will all be over. Thank you for your constant love, support, and kindness. What a journey these past seven years have been for you too. Sending my love and hugs to you always! Muk 💗