I don’t know if it is because they are excited to be meeting someone thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, or if it can simply be attributed to a lack of logic within our society, but the questions asked by people you meet along the PCT are quite absurd (and they are incredibly frustrating and annoying once you have heard them for the hundredth time).
NOTE: You must answer these questions (literally) every time you interact with someone who is not a thru-hiker, and so despite them being perfectly legitimate questions, you get incredibly sick of answering them.
When did you start?
I started on May 17, 2013.
Where did you start?
I started in Campo, California at the US/Mexico border.
You’re doing this all by yourself?
I started the trail alone, but I have met many other hikers along the way, and I am always aware of who is in front (and in back) of me.
Where does it start in Mexico?
The trail does not start in Mexico, it starts in Campo, California at the US-Mexico border.
What did you do to prepare?
Physically? I essentially ate whatever I wanted,
knowing hoping that I would get in shape. Logistically? Well, there’s a complicated answer there.
Is the trail well-marked?
Generally, yes, the trail is better marked than I would have expected. However, there are plenty of opportunities to get lost and plenty of stretches that offer no markings whatsoever.
Do you carry all your food (for the entire hike) with you?
I don’t know what to say to people when they ask me this. Do I carry enough food with me to hike all the way from Mexico to Canada? Let’s see…five months, elevated caloric needs, one backpack – yes, totally plausible that this much food would fit into a single bag and that I would be capable of carrying it.
What do you do for sleeping?
Every night I press a button on my locator beacon, and a helicopter comes to airlift me to the closest town where I stay in the nicest available hotel. I also get food brought to me while I enjoy my daily massage, of course. Oh, wait, no. Actually, I sleep on the ground in a bag of feathers. What’s the alternative here?
What about bears?
Bears? What about bears? Bears are pretty cool. I hope I see a lot of them.
Are you carrying a gun?
Why? Why is this one of the first things people think of asking PCT hikers? What a messed-up country this is for this to be a question you would ask a complete stranger. No, I am not carrying a gun (nor do I know of anyone hiking the trail carrying a gun). Tell me why I need a gun. To shoot aggressive animals? To shoot people? To hunt? Guns aren’t even permitted in National Parks where the PCT spends a lot of time.
So you are walking the entire time?
Are you asking me if I ride on the backs of wild animals while out on the trail? If I am actually just driving between Mexico and Canada? If I hike without sleep, without breaks, and without stopping until I reach Canada? What…?
Have you heard of that one book…?
That book, Wild? Yes, I have heard of it. Nobody can ever think of this book’s name, and for some reason, everyone thinks it interests me. A book about some woman who hiked less than half of the PCT and how it made her a better person? It’s not a hiking book. Do you know why it’s not a hiking book? Because hiking books are boring.
Do you need anything?
Of course, I need things. I am a thru-hiker, I always need things. Give me anything edible you’re willing to part with.