Wild Things: Day One on the PJF Trail

I’m a bit slow to the party in seeing the movie Wild but I just watched it this week, and I have to tell you, it was amazing.  I’ll admit, I haven’t read the book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, but it’s now on reserve at my local library, and I’ll be picking it up tomorrow.  I may order a copy to own as well, because I sense it’s one I’ll want to write in and keep forever.

As I finished the movie, I kept thinking to myself, “I have to do this.  I have to change my life.  I love to walk.  I love to be alone.  I should do this.”  Like every other red-blooded woman, I had similar thoughts when I first read Eat, Pray, Love.  We all wanted to travel to Italy, Bali, and India, didn’t we?  Of course, my next thoughts were, “I hate being dirty.  I couldn’t carry that backpack.  I have enough trouble sleeping in my own fabulous bed.  How would I sleep in the desert in a tent?  I’d miss my dogs.  I have bills, and a job, and stuff.  I hate being hot.”

But the idea wasn’t letting me go.  Ultimately I had the brainstorm, what if I just walk the same number of miles as Cheryl Strayed did?  I could totally do that.  I could walk on my treadmill or at the gym or around my neighborhood and keep track of the miles and reach that goal.  And I think that would still change my life.

If I’m going to do this, I want to be legit.  So, I decided I needed to know exactly how many miles it was.  The movie casually mentioned 1000 miles more than once.  I looked up, “How many miles is the Pacific Crest Trail?”  Answer:  2650.  Ummm…no.  Then I looked up, “How many miles did Cheryl Strayed Walk on the Pacific Crest Trail?”  Answer:  1100.  Okay.

I can easily walk two miles.  If I do that daily, or at least average that, I could do it in 550 days.  Seems like I need a real milestone to work towards though.  Something that’s possible, but a bit of a stretch.  I mean, you can’t change your life by just continuing to do what you already do.  My birthday is in October.  I’ll be 44 this year.  How about if I set the goal to walk 1100 miles by the time I turn 45?  That gives me 421 days.  I’ll need to average 2.61 miles per day.  I won’t walk every single day, obviously, and I’d like to push myself to be able to do say a ten-mile hike on a nice Saturday.  So, this is my goal.  1100 miles by my 45th birthday.

I started today, and I did 1.6 miles.  I know, that’s a slow start.  I’ve been sick for a week, and I haven’t walked for almost two weeks.  I didn’t want to kill myself right out of the gate, and I still don’t feel very good today.  I’m calling it a win.

As I walked, I pondered the logistics of how I would keep track and motivate myself.  I debated wearing a pedometer and counting every single step I take every day.  With that, I could easily meet this goal.  I decided not.  For one thing, I don’t want to wear a pedometer every single waking moment of every single day.  For another, I decided that Ms. Strayed would have had to do a certain amount of daily activity to set up and take down camp, cook, bathe, etc…  And those steps didn’t take her further down the trail exactly.  So, my daily activities are the same.  I will only count miles of actual distance walking.  I may buy a pedometer anyway for when I walk outside.

I debated making a chart, or just keeping a journal, or creating some fancy spreadsheet.  I’m not entirely decided upon that.  Then I had the idea of looking up photos of various locations on the trail and putting them near my treadmill.  I think I’m doing that.  That led me to believe I should take pictures of my own journey.  So, I’m doing that as well.

Another thought I had as I stepped away on my treadmill is that this town where I live has great trails.  More than 50 miles of them.  How many have I walked since moving here?  A grand total of about a mile and a half of one.  That’s pitiful.  If I’m doing this project, I should do some actual trail walking, yes?  So, this is a sub-goal of the main goal:  I will walk every mile of every trail in my town during this adventure.

Finally, I decided my trail needs a name and a spiffy acronym.  If the Pacific Crest Trail is the PCT, I’m walking the Peaceful, Joyful & Free Trail, or the PJF.  Which sounds a bit like a PBJ.  Whatever.  I’m using it.

Anyway, I’m doing this thing.  I’ll document my journey.  I took off today from here:

This is totally not my picture.  I found this at:  http://www.viajarapie.info/routes/north_america/pct2006_journal.htm
This is totally not my picture. I found this at: http://www.viajarapie.info/routes/north_america/pct2006_journal.htm

Ha ha ha!  Just kidding.  That is the Mojave Desert, where Cheryl Strayed started her journey.  I really took off today from here:

This is me today on my treadmill.  Yes, it's ancient.
This is me today on my treadmill. Yes, it’s ancient.

If you haven’t seen Wild or read the book, do it.  And I wish you luck in whatever goals you have for yourself!

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