Puzzling Through the Impossible Dream

I had lunch with a friend today, and she mentioned wanting to walk the Pacific Coast Trail, which was one of the trails I’d researched during my original research for an epic hike. She said the problem is that the trail is still two decades away from being completed, and by then she’d be too old to have any interest in doing it. Since that was also my reaction to the trail, we talked about how to do the trail anyway, such as taking the Greyhound around unfinished places or possibly Ubering.

One big problem of an epic adventure, assuming of course that the other problems such as being able to carry a pack, go the distance, and various other minor matters, is the necessity of hitchhiking to town to replenish supplies and returning to your starting point when you finish the hike, which is not something I would ever do. But Ubering into town? Along the coast? It might be doable, especially on the more populous parts of the trail where there is no camping.

Unlike the Pacific Crest Trail, which is a continuous trail through the three coastal states, there is no real Pacific Coast Trail. There is a California Coastal Trail, which connects various walkways, boardwalks, multiuse trails, and roads all along the coastline (well, except for the places where there is no place to walk) and there is the Oregon Coastal Trail, which as I understand it, is completed. In both cases, tides have to be taken into consideration, because there are many spots that are only traversable during low tide. And the trail is narrow, steep, and rocky in other spots.

I have hiked small parts of both coastal trails (very small) and the beauty is only matched by the difficulty. But still — a wonderful, if impossible dream.

So far, I have not found any map or website for a Washington State Coast Trail for hiking, though there is one for biking. (And you do not want to hear me talk about the problems about walking on cycling trails. Yikes!)

But this gives me something more specific to aim for. Best of all, I don’t have to worry about as many ticks as on other trails (I don’t think I do), and perhaps not as many mosquitoes. Since I am dreaming impossible dreams, starting at the northernmost area and working my way south could be best way of doing it — begin in the summer at the coolest part of the hike, and hike the warmer spots in the fall and winter.

Forgetting for the moment that I lack the necessary physical stamina (which might — might — be offset by frequently Ubering into town for supplies so I don’t have to carry as much), I wonder if I would have the mental stamina to do this. To just throw myself onto the world and see what would happen. (And then, there is the problem of what to do with my car while I’m gone. Unless I park, hike back to where I last parked and then head back to the car? Or walk ahead and Uber back to the car? Or forgot hiking and just drive the coastal road?)

I sometimes (well, all times) think I am foolish for continuing to think of such an epic adventure, and yet, for a person who loves puzzles, this is one of the greatest puzzles I have ever encountered — how to move one sluggish older woman several hundred miles along a trail without destroying her.

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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.