It all started with a lost journal.
Two weeks ago, while attending a live performance of Radiolab at UCLA, I lost my hiking journal. In the journal was all of my notes, maps, ideas, and thoughts about my 2011 resolution to hike Mt. Whitney. I was a bit devastated, admittedly. During the week of the lost journal, I started loosing hope that my hiking partner, Michael, and I wouldn’t get our permit to climb the mountain. I heard report after report of potential climbers getting rejection letters from the permit office. Last weekend, in fact, Michael and I ran into a pair of hikers who were also hoping to climb Whitney in September, but all of their dates were taken. Over 7,000 climbers submitted applications this year and only a handful would get a chance to climb to the top of the continental United States.
I began thinking about other options. I started looking into a replacement resolution if our permit was denied. It was around this time when I saw a National Geographic program on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). It wasn’t the first time I had heard of the 2,650-mile trail that runs from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada through California, Oregon, and Washington, but it was only until I saw the hour-long program did I start dreaming of hiking the entire trail in one season (called “thru hiking”). Since most thru hikers start in April and end in September, it wouldn’t be feasible to do this year. But next year… Yes, next year I’d do it. I ordered a few books online on the subject of the PCT and signed up as a spectator to attend the Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off (ADZPCTKO), which would be held on April 28-30 this year.
Then came Thursday, March 31st. I had received a call from UCLA that they had found my journal! Great news and completely unexpected. Also, I was laid off from my employer of six years. Also completely unexpected. While driving over to campus to retrieve my journal, I thought about what a great opportunity my
employer ex-employer had now given me. The problem with doing the Pacific Crest Trail in one season is finding the time, money, and energy to do it. Well, thanks to my previous employer, I’ve found my window of opportunity… and I’m grabbing the bull by the horns!
On April 28th, 2011, I will depart for Campo, California, a small town near the border of Mexico, and start the six-month long trek northwards. Before then, I have only a few weeks to move all of my belongings into storage, make sure I have all the gear and supplies, tie up loose ends, and say farewell to my friends. More now than ever before, I don’t know what my future holds, but I am fairly certain that by the end of the month, my time as a resident of Southern California will come to an end. It is my intention to find a job in the Pacific Northwest (my birthplace) after completing the hike in September/October.
Among the reasons I’m doing the hike is to raise money and awareness for Soles4Souls, a charity that finds shoes for those in need. As a hiker, I’ve learned to appreciate a good pair of shoes. As a world traveler, I’ve learned that not everyone has them. Soles4Souls has made it a mission to give shoes to those who need them.
You can make a donation to Soles4Souls here: http://www.soles4soulsfundraising.org/kolby_kirk
You can follow my progress online as I aim to complete the entire Pacific Coast Trail within the next six months. Check it out here: http://pct.thehikeguy.com/