A Welcome Rejection

Usually rejections are accompanied by regret or demorialization, but I can honestly say this rejection comes as a welcome relief.

I had applied for a Pacific Crest Trail sponsorship, and today I got this message:

Thanks for applying to our mYAMAdventure program.  This is the part of the program that I hate: I’m afraid we’re not able to extend an invitation to you this year.  We received over 100 applications, and narrowing them down to just five was a true challenge.  It’s a shame we can’t work with all of you.

I wish you all the best in your pursuits on the PCT!  If you haven’t already, check out the following resources for a start with your planning:

Yogi’s PCT Handbook: http://www.yogisbooks.com/pacific-crest-trail/pct-yogis-pacific-crest-trail-handbook
pct-l mailing list: http://mailman.backcountry.net/mailman/listinfo/pct-l
Postholer forums: http://postholer.com/

Yay! Making the starting date for the hike would have put too much pressure in my already stressed-to-the-limit life. And it would not have brought me the simplicity I crave. As I have learned, thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is an athletic event where participants challenge themselves to complete the hike within the allotted weather window, more of an obstacle race than the transcendental walk I had envisioned!

So, where does this leave me? When I figure that out, I’ll let you know.


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.


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.

Dreaming of Life on Foot

Once upon a time when I was going through a rough patch in my life, I considered just taking off and walking the length of the Pacific Crest Trail. I figured by the end of the hike, things would be different, or I would.

The rough patch passed, as bad times often do, but I have retained that image of hiking the length of the trail. I don’t remember why I chose the Pacific Crest Trail since I was also enamored with the idea of the Appalachian Trail. Perhaps I was confusing the Pacific Crest Trail with the Pacific Coast Highway, and envisioned a walk along the trailscoastline. Surprising to me now is that although I lived in Colorado, I wasn’t aware of the Continental Divide Trail, or if I was aware of it, perhaps it was too close to home to seem romantic.

And that’s what the idea was — romantic. I know this now. Recently I’ve been on a couple of short hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail (a thrilling taste of that old dream), and I’ve been hearing all sorts of stories, suggestions, cautions from my fellow hikers. For example, my idea of hiking without any sort of preparation, just finding the start of the trail and heading out, is not practical. Through hikers, those who hike the entire trail from top to bottom (or rather, bottom to top — they generally start out at the Mexican border and walk up to the Canadian border) often spend months in preparation, drying foods, mapping water holes, sending ahead care packages to themselves at various places along the trail. They need to be prepared for emergencies, all weather conditions, and whatever might overtake them on the trail. (Apparently, most through hikers make the trek alone, so my idea of walking solo was not too farfetched.)

Someday my current responsibilities — looking after my 97-year-old father and dealing with my perhaps bipolar brother — will end, and then what? What will I do? Who will I become? I’ve been checking out various trails in the US, and if I were so inclined, I could spend the rest of my life on foot. Thirty different trails comprise the National Trails system, and many states seem to have additional trails, such as the Oregon Coast Trail that extends for 400 miles from the Columbia River to the California Border, and the Colorado Trail that runs 486 miles from Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver to Durango.

A friend of mine recently bought a motor home, and she plans to live on the road until she finds a place to settle down. That, too, is a romantic idea (also practical), but not for me. I prefer to be less cumbered, to go lightly through life. But so lightly as to live with only that which I can carry or send on ahead? I don’t know. Still, I can’t help wondering. And dreaming . . .


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.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.