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Life on the Pacific Crest Trail with Shona Macpherson

On the 1st of July 2019, Shona left the comfort and safety of her UK life to fly to Seattle and hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

The PCT is a 2650-mile long-distance walking trail in the USA that runs from Mexico to Canada, through California, Oregon, and Washington. Shona hiked South-bound, starting at the Canadian border.

She carried all of her kit and camping gear (5.6kg without food and water), passing through towns about once a week to pick up food resupply, shower, charge her phone, etc.

It took just under 5 months.

Meet Shona:

Why hike the PCT?

Four years ago, as I approached a significant birthday, I admitted to myself that I wasn’t living the life and adventures I’d dreamed off.

I’d been waiting for my circumstances to change but changing they were not.

I decided it was time to stop putting my life on hold. And I tentatively started having adventures on my own. Each year I’ve got a bit bolder and braver:

2016 Outer Hebrides cycle
2017 North Coast 500 cycle
2018 Cape Wrath Trail

I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail because the idea of spending 5 months walking in nature – in dramatic beauty – felt like a dream. I knew it would be hard. So hard that I’d want to quit many times. But I also knew that I’d love it and be changed by it.

What did you eat?

My menu was a variety of:
Breakfast:  Porridge with bits (nuts, fruit etc)
Lunch: A tortilla with nut butter or tuna or some other combination.
Snacks: Chocolate, cereal bars, nuts.
Dinner:  A freeze-dried packet meal from Expedition Foods that I just need to add hot water too.

Excerpts from Shona’s Blog

Day 5:  

“I left the beautiful forest that sheltered me last night, again feeling strong.

It feels too good to be true, but my body doesn’t hurt. I feel as well as I’ve ever felt. As alive as I’ve ever felt.

Some of the passes I climbed today were nearly 7000 feet high. They make Scottish mountains seem tiny. Yet so far, I’m finding the walking okay. The switch backs mean I’m never gasping for breath in the way I am on brutal Scottish mountain assents.

And navigation is pretty straight forward as I’m following a path.

PCT Day 5

As I was walking along the crest of Methow Pass looking out on the mountain ranges encircling me I felt a surge of emotion move through me. I wanted to cry. It all felt too beautiful to be true. Could I really be here? What have I done to deserve this?”

Day 22 

“I climbed through a forest for a few hours. By midday, it was burning hot as I dragged myself up a scree track into a wild flowered meadow. The scarlet Indian Paintbrush popped out against the lush grass.

Day 22

Eventually, the epic rocky mountainous landscape came fully into view. The Goat Rock Wilderness with clear views of in front the three live volcanos of Mount Rainer, Adams and St. Catherine. I could see 360 views for what felt like 100s of miles. Beauty in every direction.”

Day 23 

“Another early start; I unzip my tent door to be reminded that I’m camped in this glorious meadow… Indian Paintbrush and Lupins frame sunrise over Mount Adams.

Meadow

I’m happy to meet Therese when I stop to fill my water bottle at the river. She sows the seed that’s she’s going for a 30 miler…and I wonder if today’s the day for me to try the same... the most I’ve done is 26.

I’m feeling strong and there’s not a lot of elevation.

I pass by the 400-mile mark early afternoon. These are the rare moments that I wish I didn’t hike alone. It would have been nice to have shared this. To have high 5’d someone. But I mentally high 5 myself, smile and keep walking.” 

To read more of Shona's journey on the PCT, go to http://www.shonafitness.co.uk/pacific-crest-trail/