Why?

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The conversation runs along these lines. So what are you up to? I’m about to hike the PCT. What’s that? ( 3 out of 10 have heard of the PCT) Explanation. Then a fork in the conversation. One third of the responses generally circle around the word “awesome”. Two thirds of responses center on “why”. Which is usually followed by some measure of profanity, and then a brief analysis of my mental state.

The later response is a fair one. Why walk a long distance when you don’t have to? Funny thing is I haven’t really thought about it. I just know I want to do it. So my answer is usually something smart ass like ” I’ve always wanted to see Canada slowly.” But really, why? I’m going to go away for awhile and think about it.
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Back. Here is what I came up. Two reasons.

1) Simplify. I once read a suicide note that said ” I couldn’t simplify myself.” The guy had something and I hope he rests in peace. The modern world rams complexity into our lives. With every advance that promises to make our lives easier we feel more overwhelmed professionally and personally. Our efficiency increases but our free time decreases. We are constantly reachable but what about down time? Some people revel in the complex nature of our current world. I see a treadmill, ever faster.

To jump off for a while I’m going hiking. A return to simplicity. How so? Well first you stuff your world in a bag on your back. The lighter the better. All the clutter of your day to day life left and forgotten. Then you make your way toward something. A sample day from the simple life.

Get up. Dig a hole for morning constitution. Pack up. Walk for an hour. Stop for a cold breakfast. Walk until late afternoon, snacking constantly on garbage ( or in my case seaweed). Rest when needed. Stop an hour or so before dark and cook dinner. Walk some more. As dark arrives, set up camp and go to sleep. Get up. Repeat. Very simple.

To some that holds zero attraction, to me that is pure charisma in motion. My external day takes on a rhythm that is almost musical. Up and down, flat, high points and low all accompanied by a steady pace. But again and again the pace is disrupted by something sudden. An animal being chased through the brush or a lightning bolt hitting a ridgeline. At times you run into others and chat, other times alone for hours or even days. But overall a calmness settles over movement. Walking all day is the most relaxing thing I know how to do. The nomads have it right.

2) Alone time. Lots of it. Time for brain chess. Time for reintroductions and rebooting to and of oneself. Time to rethink my perspective and outlook. As I approach 50 I feel I’ve lost touch with who I am. Pretty normal for my age group. And my response of staying busy and productive pretty normal too. But not satisfying, not even close. I’m still pretty much who I’ve always been. And that has grown stale. What I’d like to do is figure out how to accept myself in my current state or evolve and change. Whether I succeed or fail it will probably be one hell of a brain workout. At a minimum it should push back the onset of Alzheimers by a year or two.

So why do I hike? See long answer above. Maybe I should just stick with wanting to see Canada slowly. Anyway at least I now know why. The walk is the destination, not the Canadian border.

Steve Halteman
San Diego, California
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

If you’d like to help out and donate, please click here!

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Carpenter Zuckerman and Rowley

Carpenter Zuckerman and Rowley (CZR) 310 273 1230 are a group of unorthodox trial lawyers located in Los Angeles, CA. They also happen to be a pretty cool group of people to hang out with. I’ve had the opportunity to watch them in action and this is what i came away with. The CZR lawyers just seem to work harder and care more than other lawyers I’ve been around. They seem to want to go to trial for their clients rather than most lawyers I’ve observed who want to avoid the stresses of trial at all costs. And they don’t take themselves too seriously. Their other tendency is winning their cases. Give them a ring if you have any legal questions.

Why am I talking about CZR on a blog dedicated to stories and the PCT? Well when they heard what i was up to they offered to help. So for every mile I walk toward Canada CZR will make a generous donation to Escuela Verde. Not something they have to do, just shows the kind of people they are. My hat off to them.

Steve Halteman
San Diego, California
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

If you’d like to help out and donate, please click here!

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An Asian Approach to the PCT

Getting organized. Not my strong suit. Over the last month or so I’ve collected my gear, but put off the dread. That being food. Love to eat it, don’t love to make it. Nor do I enjoy figuring out how calories per ounce and thus how many ounces of this or that per day I must ingest. The PCT kindly requests that you consume between 4000 and 6000 calories per day. If you ignore this request you’ll be ready for a fashion shoot by the Canadian border. So I’m in a bind. Can’t cook, need to eat and wondering how many jars of peanut butter one can consume in a given day before the jaw joints are pulverized. Impasse.

My dilemma was solved by an impulse. As i drove down the road with my sisters and nieces one day I saw this sign. “Rancho 99 Asian Food Market” Enlightenment through advertising. “Right I thought, my answer is to shake things up.” So I pulled in, went in, and filled a cart. My young nieces assisted by gathering random products and saying “here uncle steven, eat this!” Why not, it takes a village. Money spent brings commitment. The first few weeks on the trail will be an Asian buffet. I’ve seen Asian meals prepared before, so my learning curve shouldn’t be too steep. Hands on, I’ve made ramen in school. I’m optimistic. Though some of the package instructions for cooking I’ve looked at are simplistic to the point of doubt. Twenty lines of Japanese characters followed by the word “boil.” And my metric measurement skills are shaky. I will persevere. And when persevering fails I will invent. And I will eat my Asian creations because there are no alternative food trees is the desert. Hunger will trump palet in every hiking situation (or fuckuation as my Aunt Pat loves to say.)

Steve Halteman
San Diego, California
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

If you’d like to help out and donate, please click here!

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The Countdown Begins

It’s definitely a challenge! I’m leaving in a couple of weeks and have been organizing everything from this site where I can log into a virtual journal and share my adventure with you, to food, water, maps, clothing, shoes and … well … basically shoving my whole life into a backpack!

This is for a good cause and I’m excited about it. The Escuela Verde school in Costa Ballena, Costa Rica, has been one of my life’s passions for many years. They’ve changed the lives of hundreds of kids and their families and if this trek can help raise awareness for them, I’m up to it!

Donations to the school are always welcome. If it moves you to do so, click here to help. They would appreciate it.
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I’ll start out from the Mexican border at Campo, California on May 1, 2013 and trek through the entire West Coast of the United States to the Canadian border at Manning Park, British Columbia.I figure it will take about four to five months to walk 2668 miles

One of the first destinations is the Mojave Desert. Luckily, I should get there before the weather gets too hot! But having grown up in various deserts I’m not that concerned. More daunting for me is the ice and snowfields of the High Sierras where i will be out of my element. Oh well, the path is long, I’ll just have to figure it out as i trundle along.

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I’ll need company on the road, so I look forward to your comments.
Tweet, share on Facebook and check in here often for more updates.

Feel free to check out the Escuela Verde school.

Steve Halteman
San Diego, California
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

If you’d like to help out and donate, please click here!

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