DO NOT. SEND YOURSELVES. OATMEAL.
It’s the richest piece of thru-hiker hopeful advice I think I have ever read. It was posted on the “PCT Class of 2014” facebook page by one of the realest, funniest, most perceptive, and inspiring thru-hikers from 2013 I’ve heard tell of. Her name is Carrot Quinn and she can write (and does). She seems to be sharing with me an obsession for stalking the 2014 hiker hopefuls as they prepare for their thru-hike. I’m personally all over the 2014ers because I can just completely empathize with their enthusiasm and nervousness. They KNOW their entire lives are about to change in ways they can’t begin to comprehend and it’s messing with them. I am loving being a witness, and reconnecting with the way I was a simple year ago today. She, however, SHOULD be all over the 2014 page, because she IS a 2014 hiker, preparing to walk the entire length of the PCT once again, only in a little bit more of a bad-ass manner than last year. She’s writing a book (hooray!) and wants to expand her PCT experiences.
In an open letter to the 2014 hikers (which now includes herself), she gives more than the oatmeal advice. Listed amongst a bash of brutal honesty about trail affairs, a bit about the over-my-dead-body method of food storage, and a threat to poop in someone’s sleeping bag if they wash their underwear in an on-trail water trough, she offers this :
“Hey guess what? It’s ok to have sex in one’s life, just in general. Even if, GASP! You’re a woman. It’s even ok to have sex at some point while on a thru-hike. And it’s ok to include sex in a book. Do you agree with me on these things? Yes? THEN STOP SAYING THAT CHERYL STRAYED IS A WHORE. ”
“Carry hand sanitizer, and sanitize your hands after pooping. I know that you’re a double triple-crowner and invincible in the face of giardia, but guess what- your newbie friends probably aren’t. You love your friends, and that one time they let you put your hand in their bag of fritos. They regret this now. SANITIZE YOUR HANDS, POOP-HANDS.”
“Carry treats for southbounders. Mini snickers, cliff bars, things like that. You’ll start to see southbounders in August. They are special and rare, and deserve congratulations. Give them high fives. Or better yet, make out with them. Southbounders are lonely.”
It’s a list of some incredibly realistic and not often shared trail advice and I sincerely hope everyone who plans to set foot on that trail reads it. And it’s entertaining. Even if you don’t have a plan to set foot on that trail. This is one of the reasons I have fallen in love with Carrot’s writing. It’s accessible. She spent most of her twenties hitching and riding freight trains across the country, yielding a collection of stories about experiences you and I will probably never have. And yet it’s incredibly relevant and enriching even to us to read about. You can find a link to those here. It’s everything you crave in travel writing.
I want Carrot to have as many amazing experiences as she possibly can in this life because I want to hear about them the way she tells them. I walked the same trail as her, the same year as her, but we didn’t share a single moment or experience. Reading her journals from 2013 made me feel as if I walked the trail twice last year. I saw through her eyes what else it could and did contain. And I know this year will be different yet again. It’s amazing how much life a single tread of dirt can spring up.
Read Carrot’s blog, see how amazing she is, and consider supporting her writing by supporting her creation of experiences. Here’s a link to her wishlist. And here is a link to her fundraiser page. She’s reached her goal, but who couldn’t use more money?