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[pct-l] Steve Peterson Introduction

Ron, you will be pleased to hear this: my personal view is that the most 
important product of the planning process is insight, not a plan.

What is most useful (to me) is to have the knowledge to answer What if? 
questions, both before and during the execution of the project being tackled. 
One of the things I tested last fall and will be putting to the test on the JMT 
is How well did the plan "flex" in the face of reality? Last year's worked well, 
but there wasn't much to go wrong or to want to change. The JMT will offer a few 
more opportunities for feedback on my planning process.

Also, I've designed, done the structural engineering for, and constructed the 
first phase of a house (by myself). If anyone thinks that planning for the PCT 
requires finding out a lot of things and keeping track of a ton of info, they 
ought (or perhaps ought not) to try to build a house! There, too, flexibility is 
key--during construction one comes across a great many opportunities one didn't 
see during design and it's a shame not to take advantage of at least some of 
them (building departments make it difficult, though). On the other hand, one 
doesn't move certain things (like bearing walls, beams, seismic fasteners, etc.) 
without very careful study and maybe not at all. I assume the same will be true 
of the thru-hike.

I also learned a helluva lot about flexibility on those bike trips--I had every 
day's journey planned, but made changes because I wanted to and sometimes 
because I had to and things turned out fine (that's encouragement for changing 
the plan as I go). On the other hand, marathoning taught me (the hard way) that 
trying to keep up with "the fast guys" before one is ready is a recipe for 
disaster and so I learned to determine in advance what my pace ought to be and 
to stick to it (an argument for following the plan). I've found that as my body 
has aged, it is giving me less room for error--I think it's supposed to be the 
case that enough wisdom has been gained along the way that the body will no 
longer need to make up for some of the mind's foolishness. We'll see.

Thanks for the tips and encouragement...

Ron Moak wrote:
> Steve,
> Good luck on your thru-hike next year. I do have a couple of comments to
> make about your planning. The key to a successful thru-hike revolves around
> preparation before the hiking and flexibility during the hike. While it's
> good to have a plan on what you're what and how you're going to accomplish
> your hike, "never say never". 
> It's difficult to understand the changes you'll be going through on a
> thru-hike until you've done one. So while preparations are good, you need to
> be flexible enough to respond to unexpected circumstances. I've seen people
> fail simply because they wouldn't easily adapt as they needed. 
> In all likelihood when you're in hiker shape, you'll walk farther and faster
> than at anytime in your life. So while a 30 mile day may seem daunting now,
> your view will change after a couple of months on the trail.
> If things aren't working out, feel free to experiment with different gear or
> hiking methods. Listen to others, listen to yourself and keep plugging away.
> There's no one right or wrong way to make it to Manning.
> Fallingwater