Dreams of Walking the Pacific Crest Trail

mYAMAdventure.com is sponsoring a fund raiser for the Pacific Crest Trail, and they are looking for five thru-hikers to do the fund raising for them. (A thru-hiker is someone who hikes the entire trail in one season.) In return, the hikers will get some gear to help them offset the expenses as well as advice from experienced hikers. I promised a friend I’d apply, and so I did. For me, it’s a win win situation. If I get accepted, I’ll be finally following the dream of an epic adventure. If I don’t get accepted, I won’t have to follow through on such an idiotic idea. Here are my responses to the application questions:

What draws you to the Pacific Crest Trail and to long-distance hiking?What do you find attractive about it?  Is there something you seek?  Something you hope to get out of the experience?

About twenty years ago, my life mate/soul mate almost died. I was so grief-stricken at the thought of his being gone that I knew only something as challenging as walking the Pacific Crest Trail would help me through my grief and perhaps change my life to such an extent that I could survive the loss. He survived that crisis, and although he continued to be sickly, he lived for another fifteen years. When he died four and a half years ago, I came to look after my nonagenarian father. The only things that kept me sane and stress free were my walks/hikes with the local Sierra Club and dreaming about big adventures. Now that my father is gone and I am basically alone, I still hold on to the dream — not just about meeting the physical challenge but undergoing some sort of transcendental experience — but my age and level of experience (or rather, non-experience) make me wonder if it is feasible. But maybe . . .

What about the mYAMAdventure program attracts you?  What do you most hope to get out of it?

Help with gear and planning. When I researched the possibility of hiking the trail a couple of years ago, the number of gear choices was so great that figuring out the right products to take seemed an insurmountable task. It’s not like shopping for a casual weekend camping trip — when you hike such a trail, your very life depends on those products.

What are your biggest concerns about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail?

Carrying a heavy pack (even 30 pounds seems out of my range) and enough water. Especially water. Now, if I could dehydrate water so I would have plenty, I’d be much more sanguine about my chances of finishing the hike. (I do have a lot of hiking friends near the waterless Mojave part of the trail. Maybe they can be my trail angels to ensure my hydration.)

Please describe your level of hiking and backpacking experience.  Have you ever attempted a long-distance hike?  If so, tell us a little about it.

I used to hike three to five miles every day in the nearby desert until I started taking dance classes (I take eight classes a week by last count), now I only average about two miles a day. I’ve gone on several three to five mile hikes on the PCT, which fueled my desire to go the whole way (and also made me realize what a challenge it would be). No backpacking experience.

How far along in your PCT planning are you, if at all?

No planning. Just a little research as to what I could expect.

Have you ever fundraised before?  If so, please describe:

When I was a kid, I went door to door collecting money for March of Dimes. Does that count?

What do you think is a realistic fundraising goal for you?  How do you think you’ll go about raising the $2,000 for the PCTA?

I have a bit of a following on my blog, Twitter and Facebook. I would blog, of course, and do updates on both Facebook and Twitter. Maybe check with my walking group to see if any of them would know anyone who would help. And perhaps talk to local sporting goods stores to see what they would suggest.

Do you currently maintain a blog?  If so, please provide the address:


Do you have any samples of your photography (available online) that you wouldn’t mind us checking out?  If so, please provide links.

This is my photography blog: http://waywordwind.wordpress.com/

Do you plan to carry a mobile device with a data plan?


Do you have a ball park figure of how much you think this hike will cost you?  What is it

$6,000 (I really don’t know — that is the number my research a couple of years came up with. Apparently, the number one reason for quitting a hike is running out of money.)

Are you planning to hike the trail regardless of participation in this program?  Describe any possible issues or conflicts you might have regarding a commitment to hike the trail.

Not now. Maybe someday. I am planning on walking additional miles once my life has settled down a bit, in the hopes of one day experiencing such an epic adventure.

What is your level of certainty for getting the time off work/school/whatever to hike the trail? (you’ll select at 1 – 5 type rating on the application)

Absolute certainty

What sets you apart from the other applicants?  Is there anything special you can offer the program?

I am a published author — four novels and one nonfiction book about grief. I also have a loyal blog following. (I’ve been blogging for seven years, and for the past three years I’ve been posting every day.)

What is one question you’d add to next year’s application?  Any that you’d remove?

No changes

How did you hear about mYAMAdventure?

A fellow walker/hiker


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

10 Responses to “Dreams of Walking the Pacific Crest Trail”

  1. Kathy Says:

    Pat, I didn’t realize you had a photography blog – how beautiful!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you. It never took off as a blog, so it’s mostly just sitting there. I have always been fond of the peaks photos, the way the peaks of the houses mirrored the peaks of the hills in the background.

  2. Kristin Alexandra Says:

    It’s interesting that you’ve been allowing the idea of hiking the PCT to percolate for so long. Best of luck with your application!

    And, I know that all of the information out there about the long trails can be a little daunting. If you need any help distilling it or reassurance that you’re more capable of doing it than you might think you are, just holler!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Oh, yes, reassurance would be wonderful! I checked out your blog and will be following your preparations for your own 2015 PCT hike. It truly is confusing sorting through all the information, yet at the same time, trying to maintain a bit of sponteneity, though perhaps actually applying for this fundraiser might be as spontaneous as it possible for such a monumental trip.

      • Kristin Alexandra Says:

        In that case, can do! As we’re both getting ready to hike, we’ll have to stay in touch.

        In my mind, being open to spontaneity is commendable when setting off on a trip of this variety. However, I think first-time thru-hikers also appreciate having done their research and physical preparations before hitting the trail; it seems to enable people to feel more confident both beforehand and along the way.

        My favorite PCT websites at this point are planyourhike.com, pctplanner.com, and postholer.com. :^)

  3. Malene Says:

    Dear Pat,

    I read your blog nearly every day, though I usually don’t link through to it, since you generously include the actual post in the email being sent out. I love so much of what you have to say and although I have been quiet lately … too much going on in my non-online existence … I keep meaning to comment.

    Firstly, and belatedly, my condolences on the loss of your dad. I understand that you understand that it was time and consequently his death, while surely sad in someways, is not a huge tragedy. I do, however, also surmise from your musings that this passing necessarily comes with its own set of challenges and changes, both practical and emotional/personal for you and I admire the way in which you embrace and manage these. It seems to me that you are well on your way to becoming a true sage, in my view of life, is the true point of it all.

    As for your application for the hike, if I were on the selection committee, you’d be a shoe-in (sp?). Your answers are great and, I cannot think but that when/if the committee reviews all your background information, they will find the same. If they do not, they’re some damned fools :-). You are precisely the kind of person I would think is a perfect candidate for the overall team that is going. Best of luck with it and, rest assured, that if you are picked, I for one will be donating to your fund-raising campaign.



    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you for your condolences. Yes, it is going to be an upheaval, though for the moment, my life seems fairly calm.

      I don’t know whether to hope they choose me or not — such an epic hike has been in the back of my mind for a very long time, but I truly don’t know if I have the ability to do it. Still, there is a chance that if they don’t choose me, I’ll find my own mentors and aim for 2016. It seems as if I should do something significant with my life!

      Hoping you are doing well and finding some peace in your life.

  4. A Welcome Rejection | Bertram's Blog Says:

    […] had applied for a Pacific Crest Trail sponsorship, and today I got this […]

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