Saturday, March 1, 2014

Eight Weeks, or, Why You Shouldn't Plan a Trip Too Far in Advance

As of yesterday, there are eight weeks until we hit the Pacific Crest Trail. As of today, it’s seven weeks until we take off for California. And as of this moment, I have a sharp realization of why I never planned my trips more than a couple months in advance. Here are just eight reasons:

1. When you spend two years planning a trip, the anticipation is excruciating to the point of apathy. It’s hard to be painfully excited about something for more than a couple months. Then the excitement just starts making you cranky. Then you stop feeling excited and just want to get the thing out of the way.

2. You have nothing to do at first, and then suddenly it all needs to be done at once. At first: “Yay, we bought our backpacking food, and a tent! Okay, I guess we can buy another thing. Or something. But it’s really too early to be planning for this…” Then suddenly: “Oh my gosh we are leaving in seven weeks and we don’t have eight million things we need that cost a million dollars and oh my gosh what the heck are we going to do?!”

3. You start to feel silly when people keep asking you about the trip. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me, “So you have done your backpacking thing yet?” I can only reply heavily, “No…”

4. The chances of something going wrong increase exponentially. I am still amazed that neither Zachary nor I has broken a leg yet. Of course, we still have seven weeks, and given my track record of awful things happening right before I go on a trip, I haven’t let my guard down yet.

5. More time to wait means more time to worry. See point #4.

6. It cuts a huge dividing line in your life, making you caught in limbo. So many of Zach’s and my life plans are on hold because of this trip, and we haven’t been able to truly settle down. 

7. A distant trip feels really abstract. My mind has no category for a five-month backpacking trip to begin with, and after two years, it hasn’t gotten any better. The trip for most that time has felt like something so far away that it shouldn’t require my attention.

8. Patience is hard. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

Now, all of a sudden, the trip is within my grasp. It looks like it’s actually going to happen, even. And maybe, if I take a big breath and concentrate really hard, I can pretend that I am just now starting to plan for this trip, and that I haven’t been waiting years for this to come to fruition. One way or the other, the PCT is quickly becoming cold, sharp, exciting reality.


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