T-76 Days: Permits, Transportation and Climbing for CBI

By on Feb 4, 2017 in All, Preparation | 0 comments

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Photo by Sarah Black

It’s getting real. I applied for my PCT permit with a start date of 4/21/17. Less than 11 weeks left and there’s still so much to do. Today I hired a moving company and I’m in the process of renting a storage unit. I also started packing as my lease will be ending 3/13/17. I need to decide how I’m getting to Campo, CA where the trail starts. I had a romantic notion of riding a train to So. Cal. Unfortunately, trains out west suck! Unlike my previous train rides on the East Coast and Europe, the trains out here are terrible. So sad. They cost as much (or more) than a flight and would take approximately 36 hours. The trip would include 2 transfers, bus rides and a 5+ hour layover. It’s a shame because I really liked the idea of watching the country go by as I finalized last minute details, reviewed plans, and wrapped my head around the journey I was about to embark upon. Oh well, I have bigger fish to fry. 76 days from now I’ll be standing in the Californian desert with 2,668 miles to go. There’s still so much to do.

I’ve been working with Christmas Box International (CBI) to provide an activity for their youth. I’m extremely happy to announce that Momentum Climbing Gym has generously offered to allow us to bring approximately 12 youth to the gym for a climbing day. I’m optimistic that this will be a great day for these kids. I want to give them a few hours to take their minds off day to day problems. I want them to know our community cares about them. They aren’t forgotten. They are loved. CBI came to my work this week to give a presentation on what they do. It was great to see so many of my colleagues excited about this charity and wanting to get involved. I’m hoping we can get enough volunteers from my work to teach and belay these kids, but if not I may be sending out a call for help.

In addition to training, buying and testing gear, and volunteering with CBI, I’m also starting to prepare myself mentally. I’m getting really, really, really excited about this trip but, it’s going to be difficult leaving my family, friends, coworkers. Selling my car, packing up the comforts of my apartment. The sacrifices are just beginning to manifest. There’s also so many doubts and fears that continually pop into my mind. The fear of lack of water in the desert, rattlesnakes, and lightning storms have temporarily subsided. Without a doubt, my biggest fear is the snow in the Sierras. The snowpack in the Sierras is unreal with more than 200% of normal.

I’ve also been revisited by another fear I had previously shut out of my mind. I’m a bit of a news junky. Without getting too political, I have to say I’m concerned with how the state of our country will affect my trek. As a black, non-Mormon growing up in Utah, I’ve always been a bit of an outsider. Don’t get me wrong, I love Utah and the people here. However, as an outsider I’ve experienced racism. Typically, it’s the person covertly locking their door or clutching their purse as I walk by. I’m used to that. My concern is what happens when I’m by myself in the backwoods. Unchecked by societal norms, does that racism manifest into something more explicit. I think a large majority of the people I encounter will be wonderful people. But I realize it may be difficult for a black man to hitch a ride into town from the middle of nowhere. Hopefully that’s the least of my troubles. Like so much of this trip, I’m rolling the dice and hoping for the best.

I should have a post about my trail music and my gear list within the next couple weeks. The gear post may be a video. We shall see. Until then, be good to each other. We are all family. Happy trails.

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