Ju Doherty
126 supporters
The Countdown Has Begun

The Countdown Has Begun

Mar 30, 2022

It's 30th March and I have started to watch the class of 2021 take to the trail on YouTube. There are so many PCT hikers out there at the moment and they are having the time of their lives already. One woman has a fear of snakes and spotted a huge rattlesnake within the first three miles of the hike. I felt for her as she was telling the tale. In my mind, that will be me this time next year! There are not many Brits out there yet, but I am following LordQuiche from the UK. His videos are short but you can tell that he is enjoying every moment.

Have my plans changed?

The quick answer to this question is yes. I have decided to chop the trail into two or possibly three big section hikes, rather than walk the whole 2650 miles in one go. From April 2023 I will be completing around 800 miles, from Campo (Nr San Diago) to Kennedy Meadows (at the start of the Sierra Nevadas.

There are several reasons for this decision.

  • After quite a tough few years I feel that I can no longer leave my family for six months (or more a case of I don't want to). It's a long time to be away from my daughter, husband and my mum. The USA is quite a distance, therefore I can't just take a few days off to see my family.

  • My business has also suffered during Covid and it is now getting back on its feet. I have a very loyal customer base but asking people to cover my walks for six months is just not fair on the walk leaders or the regular members. I can manage the business remotely with the help of some very kind volunteers in the UK for 8-10 weeks, but then I will be home to continue building AG.

  • Stopping at Kennedy Meadows is an ideal location. It means that this will be the starting point for the following year and I can choose to walk it in a different season to make the most of the amazing scenery. The Sierra Nevadas include Mount Whitney, which is the highest summit in the region, with an elevation of 4,421 metres (14,505 feet) as well as three national parks (Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia). Wouldn't it be amazing to complete this section in early June 2024 when I will have more experience under my belt and possess a newfound zest and the best weather for hiking?

How is the training going?

Owning a walking club certainly helps! My backpack is now a constant addition to all of my walks and adventures. One of my biggest concerns was camping in the cold weather. Through the winter I have camped quite a lot and I feel that I have my gear dialled in for the cold spells (I still have the San Jacinto Mountains to traverse, and the desert in California gets extremely cold at night).

I have some big hikes still left to complete for this year which will be good training:-

  • Hadrian's Wall - August 2022

  • Tour du Mont Blanc - September 2022

  • Camino sections - Rioja & Pyrenees in April & October 2022.

  • South West Coastal Path - November 2022

  • In between, we have all sorts of weekend training hikes arranged in the Lake District, Peak District etc

Do you have your gear sorted?

When you are addicted to buying hiking gadgets and gear you can never say that you have the perfect pack set up - but I am close. The main items of gear are very much dialled in and I know how to use everything. I love my NotchLi tent, and my backpack (Hal) is the best pack I have ever bought. I am staying with my Soto Amicus Stove and will be using a down quilt rather than a sleeping bag. My sleeping air pad is for winter use (Thermarest Xtherm) but is extremely lightweight. The funds raised from the Buy Me A Coffee site have helped fund these items, so thank you.

What is left to do?

  • Continue with the training, especially into early 2023.

  • I need to learn how to use an ice axe as I will need this skill for the San Jacinto Mountains.

  • I still have some gear to get such as micro-spikes, an ice axe, a bear canister, sort out my rain gear.

  • I need to understand the permit systems for the PCT.

  • I also need to save another £3,000 between now and April. (I currently have around £2k in the bank and am saving from my own money as well as raising funds via speaking gigs, Amazon affiliates etc). I have set up a membership programme in "Buy me a coffee" - where I send a postcard of my travels to members which I need to start promoting. (see "My Membership" at the top of this blog for details).

  • In the next 12 months, I am keen to increase my knowledge of video editing and blogging on the go. I want to record and document this journey to the best of my ability, so enhancing my skillset in these areas are paramount.

Thank you

I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has already donated to the PCT adventure, it is truly appreciated. I still have a lot to do, but I know that with pure determination and the support of my family and friends I will be setting foot on the Californian desert floor in 12 months. I'm super excited and so very grateful that you are all following along on this journey.

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