Challenges are important. As you age and accomplish longer and harder challenges as I have over the last 40 years of training and racing, it becomes a stretch to create new and more challenging ones. For my 60th birthday just four years ago, I decided on a hairy and audacious one – hike the 2,600 mile Pacific Crest Trail in 100 mile sections for 26 years. This summer was no exception as I hiked another 99 miles towards that goal. At this pace, I will finish the trail on my 86th birthday.
This year’s hike was different. A new hiking partner and a young man whose longest trip was 3-days of summiting Mt. Whitney. Though a tough accomplishment, hiking from 10-18 miles a day with a 35-pound pack over passes that reached 11,000 feet was an accomplishment for him. And for me, my fellow hiking partner is key to enjoyment and success. Rather than sharing it with two women, both ecologists and marine biologists from Seattle, I was with “Crash” his trail name. Crash is a father of two girls. He didn’t suffer from altitude sickness or blisters but something more serious – missing his family.
What did I learn as I passed through the 400 mile mark of the Pacific Crest Trail with only 22 more years to go? I learned that time hiking day-after-day turns one in one of two directions. For introvert Chad “Crash” Copher the run happened from inward to outward. He looked outward with the first sightings of the rattlesnake, the charging and large black bear, and the beauty of the field with a herd of deer. And I, the extrovert, turned inward working on quieting my mind as it busily multi-processed trying to find solutions on the path to finding silence.
Click here to watch the video if you want to experience the story of this year’s backpacking trip.