Saturday, July 11, 2015

FAQ about My PCT Memoir

"Why haven't we seen enough posts lately?!"

Q: Why haven’t you been posting as much lately?
A: Sorry about that! In mid-June, Zach and I moved into our very own house (huzzah!), and have been pretty busy with getting everything in order. In addition, we don’t have internet yet, so it’s harder for me to post. That said, I made an effort this week to work on my posts offline, so next week there will be five posts as usual, and I hope to keep up that schedule pretty consistently from here on out.

Q: How do you remember all this stuff?
A: Obviously my memory is flawed, and I do take artistic license, especially when conversations are involved (since I can only remember the gist of what was said). I have a diary that I kept on trail, mostly consisting of sentence fragments to jog my memory. For example: “Day 80, July 13th, Sunday. LaP./Quincy Rd to Bear Creek. Late wakeup, very hot, mac n’ cheese makes us feel sick. Getting to Feather River & washing clothes & sitting in the water. We camp near Bear Creek w/Catdog. I am exhausted.” 
These entries usually help me remember almost everything, but I also use my photos as memory aids (if you hike the trail, take a million photos— believe me, you won’t regret it), and consult our maps to help figure out mileage and to check to make sure I have the correct names for mountains and highways. All in all, I feel like I’m coming up with an accurate portrayal of the trail, both in the way I felt and what actually happened.

Q: Have you finished your memoir yet?
A: Not yet. However, I’m about to start writing about the Washington section, so I’m getting close. The current word count is about 180,000. I’ve been committing to writing more often now that the craziness of the move has settled down, usually bashing out a couple thousand words a day.

Q: Are you going to publish the memoir when it’s finished?
A: I would like to, but the form that will take is still yet to be seen. I want to finish it first, and let it rest, before I decide what to do. 

Q: When did you guys start enjoying the trail? It sounds like you were miserable the whole time!
A: I know a few people have been disappointed when reading the account to hear how grumpy and upset I was most of the time. As I said in a previous post, I wish that I hadn’t been, but I’d be lying to say that I wasn’t. If you asked a marathon runner to give a second-by-second description of how they felt, you probably would find that most of the moments were painful and difficult, despite the joy at the end. So it was with the trail. 
The entries over the next couple weeks reflect some of the most mentally and emotionally difficult weeks on trail, so it’s going to be a rocky ride for a while. But I do want to let you know that yes, I did finally start enjoying myself. It took a long, long time, but the last part of the trail holds a special place in my heart, as you’ll see.

As an addendum to that, though, a different perspective on this question might yield this answer: I started enjoying the trail now, a year after the fact. I look back on my entries about how miserable we were, and how freaked out, and how unprepared and grumpy, and I feel a fantastic sense of happiness and nostalgia. Look at what a cool adventure that was! Remember what it was like to sleep under the stars and drink from mountain streams and carry everything we needed on our backs! What a once-in-a-lifetime experience. What a blessing that we were able to hike the trail in the prime of our lives. What an incredible gift! I have never regretted hiking the trail, but now I appreciate that experience more than ever before.
Which, of course, begs the question: if something was miserable at the time, but you look back on it with happiness and love, was it really miserable?



  1. Thanks, Lisa, for answering the very same questions I wanted to ask but already knew the answers as I've been there done that and can totally relate! It's hard enough that you and Zach are just trying to deal with this not-your-normal-way-of life that you can "bearly" assimilate and appreciate all that you are experiencing. Each and every day is a new adventure and you are having back-to-back days on end of these adventures! It's like having memorable vacations that are usually split up by months and years and y'all just keep having them back-to-back. A lot to absorb! And a lot to remember even with journaling! When you have put some time and distance between these memorable times and this grueling way of life that you can truly appreciate what you have accomplished and experienced! I know you and Zach "made" it as all this is in the past but I am thoroughly enjoying being on the trail and immersed in your life on the PCT as it happens.

  2. I'm glad you are back posting. Thank you for answering many of my questions. I think part of what made you so emotional was you were quite literally homeless and that is a very difficult time no matter what you are doing (even living the dream of hiking the PCT). I have enjoyed reading your blog and experience as well as enjoying the pictures.