OAKLAND -- After four years of college on the East Coast, Timothy Hunt has embarked on the perfect homecoming.

The 22-year-old Montclair resident and his four college roommates are hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, spending the next five months heading southward 2,700 miles from Canada to Mexico.

The trek has all the earmarks of a perfect post-college adventure -- well thought out and prepped and combining the camaraderie of the trail community and the excitement of new vistas with the challenges of long-term hiking and the time for introspective thinking. And hearing Hunt describe this trek reveals a thoughtful, intelligent young man who is ready and looking forward to whatever comes his way.

Timothy Hunt, 22, of Montclair, and four college roommates embarked on a 2,700-mile trek of the Pacific Crest Trail on June 14.
Timothy Hunt, 22, of Montclair, and four college roommates embarked on a 2,700-mile trek of the Pacific Crest Trail on June 14.

Hunt is no stranger to outdoor recreation, sharing camping and backpacking with his family for many years, as well as pursuing skiing, mountain biking, surfing, kayaking and cross-country running. "I'm used to endurance sports and pushing my physical limits, so this will be a great way for me to combine my interest in endurance with my passion for the outdoors," Hunt said. "This trip seems like the next step forward."

The Hunt family has spent a lot of time in the Sierra Nevada, and it was a chance encounter with some backpackers on their way from Mexico along the Pacific Crest Trail that formed the germ of the idea in Hunt's mind.

"I started researching and realized it was something I'd really like to do, especially after spending four years on the East Coast," he said.


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"So it feels like a homecoming to spend that much time outside in the place I consider home."

Hunt has done his homework in regards to the trip, reading books, blogs and journals written by those who've done the same trip, trying to get a grasp on obstacles he may encounter physically and mentally.

His research has paid off in numerous ways, allowing him to keep the base weight of his pack to 15 pounds, not counting food and water.

Working before his departure date of June 14, Hunt prepared food-laden boxes filled with zip-locked bags of bulk food items he will send ahead to locations along the trail.

Each member of the team is responsible for their own gear, giving them total independence if their plans change or they hike at different paces.

Thanks to the wide network of "Trail Angels," people who store food packages, offer rides, homes, laundry and showers facilities and sleeping accommodations, Hunt knows that his food boxes will be waiting for him every four to five days.

Hunt has also purchased a small solar panel for keeping his phone and camera charged.

He plans to keep in touch with family and friends and will post his own blog messages that others can follow.

Unlike the majority of PCT hikers, Hunt and his group began in Washington at the Canadian border, since their late May graduation restricted their starting date, a factor that would result in their reaching Washington after the snow season begins.

"About 95 percent of the people start in Mexico because of the difficulty. They have 700 miles of relatively flat desert to get in shape and make sure their gear is working before they get to the Sierra," Hunt said.

"When you start in Washington, there are a lot of steep traverses of icy slopes, so you need to have some mountaineering ability and experience."

Hunt has given thought to more than the trip itself, considering how it will affect him personally and saw this adventure as an opportunity to provide him with a sense of self-sufficiency. He wants to spend time in a completely different environment and lead a completely different lifestyle.

"I think maybe the biggest thing I'm hoping to gain from the trail is perspective and to help me think critically about what's actually important and also help me appreciate the ease of life at home," he said.

Hunt looked forward to a chance to form closer bonds with his college roommates, seeing more of Washington, becoming part of the hiker community and returning to familiar territory.

"One of the things I'm most excited about is getting into the Sierra because I've been playing there since I was a little kid," Hunt said.

"It's going to be so neat to come in after hiking for 1,000 miles and arrive somewhere I'm familiar with but at the same time I'll have such a different take on it and it will be in the context of something so much bigger."

FYI
Follow Timothy Hunt's progress on the Pacific Crest Trail on his blog: http://pct2014.blogspot.com.