PCT Prep: Off to Central CA

I’m heading out soon to hike another big section of the Pacific Crest Trail. I’ll start at the northernmost PCT point I’ve been to — Tuolumne Meadows, which Cyn and I hit two years ago before continuing on the JMT — and then hike north for about 400 miles or so.

I feel strangely at ease this time around, though there are a few new things to worry about. Mainly, most thru-hikers will have already passed through the section I’m hiking (and even if I run into a few at the back of the pack, they’ll be in far better hiking shape and traveling too fast for me to keep pace with them), so I’m unlikely to hike with others consistently. I expect I’ll meet up with some day hikers and maybe some other section hikers, but should have a lot more alone time. I’m interested to see how I feel about that over the course of several weeks. Last year I did often find groups of other hikers overwhelming, but I also came to appreciate the trail family I eventually cultivated. Hopefully I’ll meet a few other feminists and queers out there this year, even if just briefly.

I’m moderately well-trained — less weightlifting, but more long walks and stadium climbs with a full pack. Starting at altitude makes things unpredictable, though, so I’m planning an easy first day or two. And I managed a base pack weight of about 12.75 lbs, including bear canister — made some cuts to my packing list, invested in a new pack (my old one finally had too many holes in it), and got a new quilt from Cyn for my birthday ( ❤ ). Hoping to travel pretty fast this year and to keep most of my toenails.

More than ever, the joys of hiking as leisure starkly contrast with the incredibly perilous and violent conditions under which migrants of all kinds are traveling today, in the U.S. and elsewhere. This year I’m using my hike to raise funds for Al Otro Lado, an organization working in both Los Angeles and Tijuana that supports refugees, asylum seekers, deportees, and other immigrants through free direct legal services as well as multiple programs providing information and material support. They are also the organizational plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the U.S. government’s refusal to allow asylum seekers access to the asylum process, and have been working to reunite migrant families who have been separated by ICE. If you feel moved to contribute to their work, you can do so through my fundraiser here. I will happily send a postcard from the trail to folks who donate $25 or more.

I’ll be blogging from the trail as often I can get cell service to do so. And will update on my Instagram too. In the past two weeks I’ve redesigned a syllabus for next semester, written the last documents for my tenure file, and submitted the final page proofs for my book. It’s definitely time to hike. ❤


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