By Julie Pendray
More people are hitting Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail each year, mostly due to social media. The 2,650-mile trek from the Mexican to Canadian borders offers some of the most stunning features of the Western United States, including the Sierra and Cascade mountain ranges. For foreigners especially, it’s a great way to see the country. Are you thinking of doing the hike? If so, you can look forward to exploring 26 national forests, seven national parks and five state parks over an average of 5.5 months. Preparations can be daunting, including shopping for gear, packing supplies to be mailed to you along the route and getting in shape for major challenges. But there’s one relaxing way to prepare: watch a documentary by people who have done it.
“Six Million Steps: A Journey Inward” offers the theme that the PCT (and life itself) is about the journey, not the destination. The inward journey is just as important as the outer. The film has been screened at the Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off , as well as the Trail Days-Appalachian Trail, Trail Days- Cascade Locks, Oregon and other events throughout the PCT states.
A film crew of four interviewed a variety of hikers they met along the route in 2009. The documentary was completed in 2011 but its messages are the same as what current hikers say. One man who’d been given a “bad diagnosis” urged people to do the trail and not delay. “Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone,” he said.
“Pickle Monster,” “Wonka,” “Backtrack” and others summarized what they learned from their trail experience:
- You’re forced to be flexible when you do the PCT
- People’s kindness to hikers renews their faith in humanity
- Everyone’s equal on the trail. They’re not defined by what they do for a living
- The hiker community watches out for each other
- This is the way God intended humanity to be
- Nothing can prepare you for the ups and downs of the trail
- You have to embrace challenges when they come
- Your daily choices are simple — what to eat and where to camp
- This is the true essence of yourself on the trail, away from the computer
- Hikers connect with “the present”
- Many want the rest of their lives to be this way
- It’s sweet to have everything you own on your back
- External stuff will always be thrown at you; what matters is what’s inside you
- Don’t quit because of a little hardship; there’s so much more ahead
- Let the trail improve you and bring that back to your workplace after the hike
- The re-supply towns are worth seeing and most people don’t know about them
“Six Million Steps” moves along at a good clip, like the hikers. The pacing is beautifully underscored by original music. Armando Caceres, Jr. was executive producer.
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