COURTNEY McCLURE The Standard
SCUGOG: Seagrave resident Jack Blaney, 21, has successfully hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, after almost six months.
The Pacific Crest Trail runs from Mexico to Canada and is 4,265 kilometres long.
Jack started hiking the trail, sometime in April, and completed his hike on September 15th.
"I like to pick physical challenges and work, and complete them," explained Jack. He anticipated, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail would give him a mental challenge because it's a very long hike.
According to Jack, the trail is all "backpacking trail", so, most nights, he ended up camping in the middle of nowhere.
"It's not like walking on a sidewalk or anything," he emphasized, describing the trail.
Before committing to the hike, he had to make a few sacrifices. For example, he had to take time away from his job, so he could focus on getting ready for the hike.
Jack has always been athletic, so he didn't have to really prepare himself physically, to take on the trail. However, before tackling the trail, he had gone skiing and went on a few runs in his area.
Jack began hiking the trail alongside his dad. They walked together for about two weeks before Jack was on his own.
At the start of the trial, Jack and his dad 'took it easy'. Jack wanted his body to become used to walking long distances every day. So, the pair walked about 25 kilometres a day. Afterwards, Jack worked his way up to walking about 32 km or more per day.
Some days, Jack was able to hike for about 100 kilometres in one day. To him, that was one of the coolest things about the hike.
"Obviously, that's quite far to walk, especially [along] backpacking trails and carrying a bag full of stuff," he said.
Although he was glad he decided to take on the challenge of the Pacific Crest, he said there were some challenges along the way. One major challenge was the changing weather.
"It was very cold and rainy for the first [few] days I was there," he said. "That was tough because we still [had] to hike. When you're hiking in pouring rain, and it's [only] plus two all the time, and [you are] about four days from [the nearest town], it's challenging."
Another big challenge for Jack was eating enough, while hiking just over 30 kilometres or more every day.
There were towns scattered along the trail which Jack was able to hitchhike to and then come back to continue where he left off the next day. Sometimes, he was able to buy food from a grocery store and ship it to the next town, so he was prepared ahead of time.
However, there were definitely good points to hiking to the Pacific Crest Trail, according to Jack.
"One of the best things was the people you meet on the trail," he shared.
Each year, about 4,000 hiking permits are distributed, so people can hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
About halfway through the trail, Jack met a group of five other Canadians. The group stayed together for the remainder of their journey. They travelled together for about two and a half months.
"The coolest thing was being at the summit of Mount Whitney [California]," stated Jack. "That's the highest mountain in the contiguous [United States]."
Jack advises anyone interested in pursuing the Pacific Crest Trail to, "Just go for it. You're not going to regret it." For him, the experience of hiking the trail was great.
To learn more about the Pacific Crest Trail, please visit www.pcta.org.