Coolibar Athlete Sara Snyder recently returned from a six month 2,663 mile trek from Mexico to Canada via the Pacific Crest Trail. The Pacific Crest Trail passes through 24 National Forests, seven National Parks, five California State Parks, five Bureau of Land Management Resource Areas as well as other public and private lands. Sara shares her thoughts throughout her long hike.
Photo left: PCT trailhead at the start of Kennedy Meadows
By Sara Snyder:
A lot of people may wonder why I would choose to wake up each morning for five and a half months straight in the middle of nowhere to begin the daily routine of hiking a marathon. I can understand that curiosity, as my first few days on the Pacific Crest Trail had me asking the same sort of question.
Believe me, a lot went wrong in the beginning, from delays to running out of food and water, carrying too much weight, changing my daily miles to avoid certain folk, losing maps, broken tent poles, ripped shoes, to several physical ailments.
Everything that could go wrong, pretty much went wrong whenever it had the opportunity. The freedom I was craving so badly seemed guarded by a brigade of cactus spikes, ungodly traps and woes I had to fight for the prize. (Merely blessings in disguise, I’d always come to find out later), but at times, it would all become overwhelming. I had thought about postponing the adventure a year, and even quitting when things got really out of control, but I’d always come back to the same decision… to push through all the obstacles and fulfill my dream to hike from border to border.
There were a lot of odd moments where I sensed the universe actually wouldn’t allow me to quit, even if I wanted to. No matter how difficult things became, someone, or something would get me through the struggle.
Everything would always work out in the end and seemingly occur for a reason, no matter how crazy. Other days it felt like I’d be given the choice to leave, as if I were being tested, but I was never silly enough to do it. I knew in those times of uncertainty that there was just too much I’d regret and miss out on, so I’d continue north – the right choice of course. The only choice that made sense.
Quickly, the entire spectrum of trail life for me, to put it mildly, became addicting, just as I thought it would with a little bit of patience, hard work, and trust. At the start, I think I was more in love with the dream than the doing, but warm ups never seem to give the full impression. This I always knew. Then one day, finally conquering the monotonous desert, it all hit me. I was in fact actually doing this…and doing a pretty good job. I was impressed with myself, and began to fall hard in love with the reality, who I was turning into, as well as oddly, the taste of dirt. This is what I wanted, and this is what I got, and I was going to embrace every second of it, bad or good. It was all good now. Perfect in fact. The Sierras and Cascades were awaiting my arrival, and I was eagerly getting myself to them. I felt stronger and more confident than ever before, and even more so with every day that passed.
Each day was a new adventure filled with mystery and excitement, where expecting the unexpected became natural law. Some cold misty mornings I’d awake with the brief thought that the day would just be another routine day on the trail. Possibly nothing special, but I was proven wrong each and every time I would dare to think such a thing. From the scenery to the people, weather, wildlife and town hitches, every day was unique, challenging and memorable.
Upon reaching the Canadian border in a snowy white blur I was able to say that I never exactly doubted my capabilities; however, it definitely took a few mountain passes to rough me into great shape physically.
This journey was not only a physical endurance test, but involved a complete mental and spiritual transformation of my entire being. It had me humbled and in awe, most of the time having to rely on the kindness of strangers, which was for me, a deeply unfamiliar and beautiful experience in itself. I have stories engraved in my memory that I couldn’t even begin to ask anyone to believe if I tried my hardest. In a good way, it has completely changed my life and my character forever.
I think there are those who like to look at pictures or videos of other people doing amazing things and get lost in their stories. For whatever reason, some of these same people seem to think that they can’t ever be the person creating their own story / becoming the story. This is upsetting to me. Dreamers who make excuses as to why they think they can’t actually live should know that those who do choose to live see their dreams as the best reason to wake up each and every morning. Dreams exist for a reason. We all have them. The choice to fulfill them is personal, and what keeps me fueled. I choose to fulfill mine, because we only have so much time in the physical world. Why waste the opportunity?
You’d be amazed by what you have been missing out on.