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Lessons From the Path Less Travelled

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) spans 2,650 miles of backcountry forests, mountains and deserts along the west coast of the United States from the Mexican border to Canada.

“The trail is about more than mountains and geography … it’s about people and the idea that we, as a society, can preserve our most wild and beautiful places,” according to the official Pacific Crest Trail Association website.

Its most recent famous media rendition was in the movie, ”Wild,” starring Reese Witherspoon, based on the book of the same name by Cheryl Strayed. The film features a young woman taking on the trail to cope with a particularly difficult divorce and the death of her mother. The  physical experience and natural beauty provide catharsis; and her story is repeated by thousands of others who are changed by their experiences hiking the trail.

On Oct. 22, from 7–8 p.m., Jim Kress presented “Lessons From the Crest,” a recount of his recent experience hiking the trail. The presentation took place in Wille Hall in the Coats Campus Center at COCC.

In 1989, Kress embarked on the trail starting at the southern end. He hiked north for five months, backpacking through an entire continent of wild and scenic beauty. In his presentation, Kress will cover his memories and experiences on the trail in addition to the life lessons he gained from his time hiking.

Kress suggests to prepare physically by backpacking often with a heavy pack to get used to carrying weight. For those who are daunted by the distance of the trail, Kress points out that many people do only sections at a time. One way to think of the PCT is many small trips linked together.

At the presentation, Kress addressed the importance of backpacking for roughly 4–5 weeks if people do not have time to do the whole trail in one five-month period. Kress spoke about how hiking the PCT changed him and his perspective on life, and about how it taught him how to live every day to the fullest.

“There is something that happens to long-distance hikers after about four weeks. They change both physiologically as well as mentally and spiritually. It is an amazing place to be and I encourage everyone to try something like that,” Kress said.

You can reach Kress by email at jkress@cocc.edu.

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Bethany Langer | The Broadside
(Contact: blanger@cocc.edu)

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