One of North America's most popular trails is called The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) which is 2,650 miles (4,265 kilometers) from Mexico to Canada. It is an awe inspiring trek through California, Oregon, and Washington.
According to the official PCT records, it's estimated that thousands of hopeful long distance hikers start out each year to attempt this harrowing journey. Yet only 5,368 people from the 1952 - 2017 have completed it and successfully joined the "2,600 Miler List."
From long stretches of dry desserts to snow packed mountains the beauty of this trail is matched with its dangers. People have died due to avalanches , falling or being swept away by rivers. Aside from fatalities many quit because of injuries, illnesses, mental fatigue, or running out of resources namely money.
It is a true test of psychological and physical endurance. At this point some of us too comfortable with modern amenities, hot showers and soft beds might be asking the basic question... Why?
Why do people purposely put themselves in these dangerous situations and what on earth could they possibly gain? While, the reasons may obviously vary. I know someone crazy enough to not only recently thru hiked the Pacific Crest Trail but also has completed the 2,190 miles Appalachian Trail back in 2013.
Mac Haas or also known as, "Fresh Prince" is a 24 year old recent graduate with a Geography major from Texas State University. The nickname "Fresh Prince" comes from a long held tradition of people abandoning their real names for nicknames often chosen by others you encounter on the trail.
Fresh Prince started the PCT in May, 2017 and finished it 4 months and 1 day later. He calls himself a light weight hiker meaning that the weight of his entire pack (not including food and water) is under 10 pounds.
So, I caught up with him to grill him about why he personally decided to join the 2,600 Miler List but also the technicalities of a journey of this scale as well as exploring what he gained. It turns out that the question of why and the answer of what he has gained is more relatable to the average person than I had previously imagined.
I began to really understand why someone might abandon Netflix to sleep out under the stars. To bring up just a few interesting points from the interview, being out in nature for long periods of time results in :
Raising happiness levels
Introspection for personal development
Improved sleep patterns
A broader perspective of what really matters, what is worth stressing over and what to let go of
A space for more intimate connections with strangers and better in person communication
This is a teaser taken from the the full interview.
The full interview is available below for free to play or download.
This is an excellent audio resource for anyone interested in spending a long amount of time out in nature. This interview covers: The reason why he started hiking, technicalities of hiking including pack weight, navigation, food & water as well as advice for people wanting to thru-hike. We discuss the real dangers of hiking (it's not bears), why staying in your comfort zone is important and of course the psychological and philosophical of being out in nature.
You can follow or Contact Mac here: