Everybody need goals. Though most of these goals, if we are honest, are not all that important. In the grand scheme of things, does cleaning out my closet really matter? No. But if we can’t find some meaning in every day existence, we can get swallowed up. Goals keep us moving forward. I do have my “organize the cupboard” checklist, but bigger goals are a little more exciting. I’ve already accomplished one major goal – 500 miles on the Appalachian Trail. (And then write a book…which you can find and buy on Amazon – link on homepage. Making a couple bucks is always a goal, right? ;)) But now what?
Except, this “goal” ideal creates a bit of a problem. I don’t want living (or hiking) to be about “accomplishing.” Ego fulfillment is not living in the fullest, in my humble opinion. What a dilemma.
How do I reconcile these conflicting ideas? I surrender them to the universe. (Or what I call “God”…or because I believe that this mystery is entirely loving, I will boldly even name it “Father” at times.) It’s true that my goals are not that important, but they help me live…therefore, they have importance. I embrace them with gratitude; but I don’t hold them too tightly. They don’t give me value. Maybe I give THEM value–just by experiencing them? I don’t know. But I know one thing – I enjoy goals. So I’m making more.
Becoming a “thru hiker” would be the pinnacle of my hiking dreams, though it’s a commitment that doesn’t fit into my life. Even finishing the entirety of a long distance trail (bit by bit) feels more than my realistic self can envision. (Completing the PCT would be so amazing…but reading thru hiker accounts of what this actually entails has brought a harsh reality check to what this requires in real life.)
So instead of finishing any one trail, I’ve decided experiencing several is better. Why not finish 500 miles of more than just the Appalachian Trail?
I’m just 30-ish miles shy of finishing all of Washington’s PCT, which is just over 500 miles. So once that is done, that makes 500 miles completed on two major thru hikes. The Continental Divide is the other major thru hike in America (the other “crown” in the illusive triple) and it shares it’s beginning (or ending) with the lesser known Pacific Northwest Trail. (Which goes East/West from Glacier Montana to Washington’s coast.)
I’ve discovered I’ve already done almost 100 miles of the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) without realizing it. Do 300 more (much of it within a few hours of my house) then do my last 100 to the terminus in Glacier National Park–then hop on the Continental Divide (also in Glacier) and start in on those 500 miles. If I can get in 500 miles on all four of those major hikes, then I can make a nice clean “500 Miles on 5 of America’s Thru Hikes” by visiting my brother in Arizona and working on their “Arizona Trail.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? If nothing else, it will keep me moving…and keep Guthook’s in business. (A must have trail app I was too cheap to pay for on the AT…until I finally caved, and now I can’t give them enough of my money ;))
But I have to add here that after I wrote all of the above, I willy nilly threw a “hail Mary” into the universe and applied for a sponsorship to thru hike the Arizona Trail. If by some miracle I get it, then my only goal will be to finish the Arizona Trail and not disappoint my sponsors. I’ll have until October to figure things out, since that is when I would need to start as a south-bounder. My “let the Spirit lead” attitude is helping me not to feel either anxious or excited – the ball will get caught or it won’t. It will be fine either way. But a touchdown sure would be fun. 🙂
So, back to the PNT. The pictures on this post are from a Thanksgiving trip I took to the Olympic Hot Springs. Some quick things to mention about this hike are:
- It’s on the PNT, of course.
- The road is washed out, so what used to be a quick couple miles is now a ten mile hike mostly on pavement. It is 3 miles from the parking area at Madison Fall TH to the abandoned Ranger Station (very cool!) where you connect to the PNT, then it’s another 5 or so miles of road walking to the abandoned Olympic Hot Springs parking, then the 2 relatively easy actual trail miles to the hot springs.
- Embracing this hike for what it is makes it fun. I loved listening to my audio book as I walked on the lonely, desolate feeling road.
- You are not supposed to camp by the hot springs. I did anyway. BUT I didn’t make a fire, poop anywhere in the area, and I even picked up trash around my site. I would have never camped there in the summer, but there was nobody there so I was naughty. Sorry.
- The hot springs are kinda gross IMO. Not anything like the idealized fantasy I had in my head. The sliminess and smell are hard to get past – and though the above pic looks like your own private hot tub, it was a dirty lukewarm bathtub at best.
- You’ll need the Olympic National Park pass so why not drive up to Hurricane Ridge on your way home? You can even hike there from that abandoned Ranger Station I mentioned (in the summer) if you wanted to extend your trip. I drove, of course, and got an extra mile on the PNT by just ambling through the parking lot with a little snow trail walking. (Which explains the couple snow pics on here.)
Below you’ll find all my completed PNT miles (with links to the story – most on my other blog) along with my future hopeful miles. Every time I finish one, I’ll move it to the “completed” list. Happy Trails and happy goal making everyone!
Ozette Triangle: 3 miles https://kellbell-whywouldanyonereadthis.blogspot.com/2013/01/ozette-triangle-at-last.html
Oyster Dome/Blanchard Hill/South Chuckanut: 8 miles https://kellbell-whywouldanyonereadthis.blogspot.com/2016/12/a-lily-lizard-and-lexi.html
East Baker Lake: 14.5 miles https://kellbell-whywouldanyonereadthis.blogspot.com/2016/04/first-backpack-of-2016-baker-lake-north.html
Hannagan Pass: 8.7 miles (Including part of road walk during snowshoe) https://kellbell-whywouldanyonereadthis.blogspot.com/2012/10/day-two-hannegan-pass.html
East Bank Ross Lake: 17 miles https://kellbell-whywouldanyonereadthis.blogspot.com/2013/06/east-bank-trail-ross-lake-part-one.html
Big Beaver Camp: 6 miles https://kellbell-whywouldanyonereadthis.blogspot.com/2017/06/crashing-heathers-party.html
Padilla Bay: 2.2 miles https://kellbell-whywouldanyonereadthis.blogspot.com/2012/04/padilla-bay-shore-trail.html
Ebey’s Landing: 2 miles https://kellbell-whywouldanyonereadthis.blogspot.com/2016/06/step-brother-ebey-steals-show.html
Tommy Thompson Trail to Mount Erie Store: 8.7 miles (I never wrote about this one, but I did a little post about Heart Lake which is part of it) https://kellbell-whywouldanyonereadthis.blogspot.com/2015/02/anacortes-hiking.html
Deception Pass Bridge and Goose Rock: 1 mile https://kellbell-whywouldanyonereadthis.blogspot.com/2011/11/can-i-call-this-hike.html
Baker River Trail: 2.3 miles https://kellbell-whywouldanyonereadthis.blogspot.com/2011/09/baker-river-trail.html
Olympic Hot Springs 9.7 miles (Including road walk up Whiskey Bend Rd & Hurricane Ridge parking lot) Seen here! 😉
Larry Scott Trail from Ferry Dock to Four Corners intersection: 9 miles http://slowesthiker.com/blog/santa-hike-economy-boost/
Fort Ebey State Park to Joseph WhidbeyState Park: 8.2 miles http://slowesthiker.com/blog/breaking-100-on-the-pnt/
103.3 TOTAL COMPLETED MILES
Pass Lake: 3 miles
British Army Trail to Trillium Gate: 7.8 miles
Bogachiel: 6 miles (back up/not counted)
Third Beach to Oil City: 17 miles
Rialto to Ozette: 20 miles
Alger Creek Rd to St Rt 9: 13 miles
Wickersham Road to Forest Road 150 Scott Paper 110 Rd FR 150 (Lyman Hill): 12 miles (back up/not counted)
John Tursi Trail: 2.2 miles (back up/not counted)
Baker Hot Springs Forest Rd Turn off (811.7) to Lake Ann TH (801.9): 9.8 miles
Devil’s Creek Campground (724.6) to Devil’s Dome and turn at Devil’s Pass (714.5): 10 miles
Elwha to Hurricane Hill TR to Obstruction Point TR: 9 miles
Happy Panther Trail: 6 miles
(Bell Pass Elbow Lake Area FOREST ROAD 12 CLOSED? Maybe in future)
95.4 MILES UNCOMPLETED NEAR ME
(Kettle Crest 44 miles…back up/not counted)
Boundary Trail Pasayten Wilderness 80 miles
Whistler Canyon 24 miles
High Divide/Seven Lakes Basin 19 miles
Tubal Cain (1048.5) Dose Meadows Camp (1076.5) 28 miles– turn to blue line (Grand Pass Alt) up to intersection with Obstruction Point (12.6) then to Deer Park (7.5) 48 miles
171 MILES UNCOMPLETED BIG TRIPS
ALL TOGETHER 368.2 + FINAL TRIP FROM EUREKA TO EASTERN TERMINUS (131.8)=500!