We have travel maps at our house.
We could open a retail map business.
Seriously, we have maps!
I had forgotten how much I love maps. When I was younger, and our family went on a road trip, my dad always gave me the road map, and he would ask me questions along the trip like “how far is it to Butte?” and I would add all the little numbers and give him a pretty good estimate. I read it all. I read all of the fine print, the points of interest, the river names and mountain pass names.
I am obsessed with maps, and I’m having a blast going over the maps of Bev’s planned hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, and my planned hike along the Oregon Trail and beyond. Meanwhile, Bev is busy putting together the equipment and clothing she will need for a five-month long hike across the width of this country. It is a formidable list of items she will need, and I can tell you all, from personal experience, that hiking equipment and clothing do not come cheap. By the time this is all over, the REI management team, and sales staff, will know us on a first-name basis.
My job, while Bev is hiking the 2,600 miles, south to north, will be to meet her in towns along the way, and resupply her with whatever food and other items she needs. The dogs’ job will be to keep me company, in the travel trailer, while we go on this epic adventure.
Getting in shape for travel
Someone asked me the other day how sixty-two-year-old Bev, and seventy-three-year-old me, plan on getting into shape for these monstrous hikes/walks. How can someone actually prepare their body to hike 2,600 miles?
And the answer is, you really don’t have to. If you can train your body to handle ten, or twenty miles in one day, your body will adjust once you are on the journey. You get into trail shape while you are actually hiking the trail. You listen to your body. When it is tired, you back off a bit and don’t hike so far. When your body feels good, you push it a bit further. One foot in front of the other, day in, day out, and eventually the days, and the miles, add up.
Or, as the old joke goes, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
The reality is a bit more complicated
I’m not trying to oversimplify Bev’s trip, or my own. The reality is this: hiking 2,600 miles, through deserts, over mountain passes, in all sorts of weather, is grueling. You can be in the best damned shape imaginable, and there will be days when every bone in your body hurts as you crawl out of the tent. And when those days happen, you either take a day of rest, or you soldier through the pain, and that’s just the real of it.
Hikes like the Pacific Crest Trail, or walking the Oregon Trail like our ancestors did, are really a matter of mind over matter. The mind will quit long before the body does and, conversely, the mind is capable of propelling the body when the body is ready to quit. It really comes down to how badly you want it. Think about the reality of the Oregon Trail for our pioneer ancestors. They did not train for a 2000-mile walk. They did not visit Planet Fitness in preparation. They packed up the wagon and began walking and yes, it was brutal, and yes, the felt like quitting many times along the way, but they were motivated enough to carry on until they reached the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
CAN WE DO IT?
Damned if I know! I’ve never walked 2000 miles before. Bev has never hiked 2600 miles before. However, even if we don’t finish, is that really important? It’s the experience that matters to me. I am going to meet some incredible people along the way, and Bev will see some scenery very few people have witnessed. Those who have gone before, who have taken on things like the Pacific Crest Trail, describe it as a life-altering experience.
Seems worth it, to me!