Expectations and Reality

When starting any big adventure it is incredibly difficult to avoid having expectations. Unfortunately expectations can lead to let downs when these expectations aren’t met – or conversely- one can expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised.

Andy has been dreaming about hiking this trail for 8 years. Reading blogs and doing research lends itself to having expectations. Luckily, Andy is wonderful about living in the present and enjoying the adventure – no matter what comes his way. Laurie, however, builds things up in her head. She’s aware of this and works hard to stay present.

Although consciously working to stay open to the trail experience and lessons, we started the trail with some expectations.

The following is a collection of those expectations and what really happened – up to mile 702.

The desert is hot
Our experience in the desert was surprisingly wet (rain, hail) which thankfully kept the temperatures cool. We only experienced temps over 90 degrees twice, and none over 100. We know this isn’t the norm, and we appreciated the cooler days.

The desert is boring
Andy, who grew up in LA, appreciated the desert. Laurie, who has never really spent time in desert was skeptical. Both of us were surprised by the amazing amount of blooming cacti and miniature wildflowers.

It was captivating to watch the clouds shade the distant hills. We giggled as lizards did push ups trying to intimidate us or frantically ran away along the trail. The arid landscape has won over both of our hearts.

Andy will do all the blogging
Laurie quickly realized she loves to write about our daily adventures. We take turns writing and often one will start and the other will finish. Or one will write the entirety of a post and the other will edit it.

We will meet people and form a trail family
We have met a lot of people – some we feel immediately drawn to and others that we trade hellos and superficial conversation but keep it at that. It is nice to see familiar faces in town and on the trail.

We feel part of a greater community but as a result of timing, our enjoyment of dry camping and feeling content with the company of one another, we have not formed many deep bonds with other hikers yet.

We will get tired of one another
We have been dating for over 3 years and know one another pretty darn well but thru hiking can be challenging. We have never lived together and now will be sharing a tent.

Will we have enough personal space?

Will we want time apart?

So far the answers have been no.

This time together is a gift. We laugh, joke and comfort one another with more ease. The things that used to bother us now make us laugh. Don’t get us wrong, there are still plenty of frustrating and irritating moments but we get over them quickly by talking about them.

We learn from them and make our relationship stronger. Building a relationship without daily societal distractions is a gift – we learn to accept one another for who we are at our core.

Our blog will be read only by family
We had no idea how this blog would turn out. We wanted to keep friends and family informed but never expected the breadth of exposure. Relatives of friends and complete strangers eagerly await our daily updates.

We love your comments and find a lot of pleasure in sharing our experiences with those we know and love, and those we don’t. Thank you for making this experience even better!

We will get clean and smell good in towns
We expected to smell but neither of us expected that 1 hour after a shower (in which we scrub our armpits with soap multiple times) we would start smelling again. The smell of onions or pastrami continues to plague us – even in town.

Our relationships with friends will suffer
Laurie thought being away for 6 months would create voids in her relationships. While she no longer sees a lot of her friends daily or on a frequent basis – she’s had more contact with some while on the trail then at home!

Without the daily distractions she recognizes what is most important to her – and that is her community. While hiking she spends a lot of time thinking and feeling grateful for the people in her life and sends out love into the atmosphere.

We will get bored eventually
Everyday on the trail is different. The views and weather constantly change, some days our bodies ache and others we feel like we can walk forever. This is part of the excitement and adventure. We never know what is around the next corner.

The first 700 miles had many hidden pleasures, we will soon see what the sierras have in store.

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Mile 15.4

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Mile 745

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32 thoughts on “Expectations and Reality

  1. Many thanks for sharing yourselves to complete strangers, such as me. I have been following PCT blogs since 2012 when our son first walked a part of the PCT, and I have enjoyed every one. What a privilege it has been to get to know, even from a distance, a number of intrepid explorers, whose adventures and blogs did not end in 2012 . Now our son is back on the trail to do what he could not complete, this time with his lovely wife, and they are just a few days behind you. Maybe you will meet …

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  2. I really enjoyed this post. It is good to see what you have learned after 700 miles and I’m sure you will learn more in the next 2000 or so. I plan on thru hiking the PCT in either 2019 or 2020 and obviously blogging it, so I will probably steal the idea for this post if you don’t mind. 🙂

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  3. Love you guys and love reading these posts! Those few days of no posts made my morning reading a bit less interesting. 🙂 I can’t wait to hear how the next 700 miles go!

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  4. Thanks for sharing your journey, you both are beautiful. I am planning a thru hike next year, living it vicariously through your stories. Best wishes.

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  5. Doing this in 2018 after retirement with my daughter. I am really interested in what equipment works and what you would change. We are thinking of Hennessy Hammocks rather that tent.

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    • Hey Pat, hiking with your daughter sounds like it would be a great adventure. We will do a gear post once done but our advice now would be to try out hammocks and tents and anything else you want to use on trail. And research other hikers’ experiences re hammocks in the desert

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  6. What a wonderful, wonderful post. It filled my heart with bright light and warm energy. You two are so very special. I am very happy for you. Love, Donnie

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  7. You guys kick ass. I notice you don’t ever use language like that, I hope it doesn’t offend. I’ve been following since the beginning, and loving your pictures and blog. I read parts of it to my girlfriend all the time, and show her the pictures.

    I’m thankful that I came across your blog, and I’m thankful for amazing people in this world who are cool with sharing their amazing journey! 😉

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  8. You two are doing a great job with your blog posts. I’ve read other trail blogs, but your descriptions immediately place us on the trail. Soon you will be passed where we’ve hiked ( Ebbetts Pass) and We look forward to seeing it for the first time through you. We know that blogging takes a lot of commitment and time and thank you for sharing.
    Tj and Mark AKA Pearl and Not Uncle Bob

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  9. I really enjoyed hearing your expectations vs reality & glad to hear you two are enjoying each other’s company on this exciting adventure. I hope to see more of these kind of thoughts as you continue your journey. Can’t believe you’ve hiked more than 700 miles now. I can’t stand driving to San Diego from the Bay Area (I rather take a plane) but you’ve hiked more than that distance in just more than 1.5 months!

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  10. Thank you for sharing your personal journey, Laurie and Andy. It sounds like this is a wonderful opportunity to allow your relationship to evolve in these natural environments.
    We live near the Sierra and see lots of PCT hikers come,thru Carson Pass.
    You will experience beautiful wild flowers this year…especially in July.
    Lots,of continued good fortune as you continue to challenge yourselves with this once in a lifetime adventure.
    I am your Aunt Jean’s close friend, Arline.

    Happy trails,
    Arline Zeidler
    Minden, NV

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  11. Hello Andy & Laurie. I am also a stranger who has been following your blog for awhile now. My brother & his girlfriend are nearing Kennedy Meadows now and I read these past blogs of yours slowly as they hike through the same area now. Thank you for the wonderful blogging, I know it takes time & commitment to continue. I really appreciated the expectations vs reality post. Of the couples who have blogs, I find yours very enjoyable reading. You have different personalities, values, and ways of approaching the same situation and I like reading about how you make it work. Being in a relationship is hard work, but I am glad you are still finding joy and laughter together, even on the harder days. Happy Trails you two!

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