I’ve lived my entire life in the Northern Hemisphere, and nearly all of that time I’ve been in the higher latitudes. A fairly consistent complaint I hear from my fellow humans is that they dislike winter. I get it: Not much daylight, and in maritime climates the sky seems grey all winter. The weather isn’t conducive to being outside, and it can make traveling – even just to work – challenging.

I don’t think I’ve ever been a winter-hater. I grew up in Seattle – one of those places where the skies are gunmetal grey from November to April, but where snow was also an infrequent treat. (And we almost never got enough snow to cancel school. Drat!) While I never teased out this thought in my head, I think I recognized the short winter days were a bookend to summer’s late sunsets. Or maybe I just figured there wasn’t much to be gained by complaining.

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This topic has been knocking around in my head for a few weeks now. It started on an evening I was standing in the yard of my suburban home – a yard lit by decorative solar lights and a decidedly undecorative & overly-bright street light. (There’s a 4-lane arterial behind our home.) Despite all this human-created light, there was a quality to the darkness that reminded me of night in the backcountry.

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PCT – Chinook Pass to Tacoma Pass

Last weekend, I hiked about forty miles of the PCT (Chinook Pass to Tacoma Pass). My original plan was to hike to Stampede Pass – another ten miles – but the shorter trip made for a better weekend.

I left work early Wednesday to get a jumpstart on the trail. I’m glad I did. Jim dropped me off at Chinook Pass about a quarter after seven. Truth be told, if I’d worked until five on Wednesday I probably wouldn’t have gotten to Chinook Pass until near-dark.

Jim drove east while I walked north
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Many Small Steps Add Up to One Big Step

I currently have a couple of goals. First, I am going back to hike the section of the Pacific Northwest Trail I bailed out on last summer. To make that hike easier, I’d planned to do several shorter hikes in the interim. I’m hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Chinook Pass to Stampede Pass in late July, and I wanted to challenge myself with some long day hikes and one or two overnight hikes before then. Unfortunately, family obligations and other things – including my own sloth & indifference – have meant I’ve not gone on a single overnight hike, and I’ve had a hard time pushing myself to do much of anything.

I know I can do little things to improve my chances of success this year. Taking a few minutes a day to do some core strength work or stretching goes a long way to avoid fatigue and injury on the trail. Today, I’ve decided to start a “What Have I Done Today?” reflection at the end of my day: each night, I want to reflect on what I’ve done that will pay dividends come August. Physical fitness will paly a big role, but I also need to plan. I haven’t thought much about my menu for August’s hike. I haven’t played much with my gear. These things count, too.