PCT for Pets: An adventure to help shelter animals nationwide...

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The Dog
       Banner's Story
       The Plight of Shelter Animals
       California "Desert Training"
       Canada "Snow Training"

The Human
       J. Bradley's Story
       Professional Resume
       Technical Outdoor Resume
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The Hike
 
      About the Pacific Crest Trail
       Final Itinerary
      
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PROGRESS MAP
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Follow our Progress along the PCT!

J. Bradley's StoryJ. Bradley on Cayambe Volcano, Ecuador

"There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist fighting for peace by nonviolent methods most easily succumbs...overwork.  The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence.  To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.  The frenzy of the activist neutralizes one's work for peace.  It destroys one's inner capacity for peace.  It destroys the fruitfulness of one's work because it kills the roots of inner wisdom that make work fruitful"
-- Thomas Merton


The most important thing I learned in college was to follow my passion, regardless of the challenges required to do so.  While instructing for the Stanford Outdoor Education Program, I was also fortunate enough to discover my passion: teaching in the outdoors.  Following this desire, I decided to pursue outdoor leadership and education as a profession.  Most recently, I spent five years as a backpacking, rock-climbing, mountaineering and rafting instructor for the Pacific Crest Outward Bound School.  While going to school in California and working for Outward Bound up and down the west coast, I became familiar with the Pacific Crest Trail and was able to hike and ski many sections of the trail.  It has now been a dream of mine for ten years to hike the entire PCT from Mexico to Canada in one season.

So, why hike the PCT now?  For the past year, I have been struggling with a number of mental and emotional issues whose origins span back many, many years.  As would be the case with anyone's life struggles, mine are very complicated and difficult to articulate, especially in one paragraph, on a web site, to an audience of mostly strangers whom I will never meet.  In essence, I would say that my troubles stem from an inability to feel connected to other people on an emotional level combined with a failure to heed Merton's words.  I have tried to compensate for a lack of closeness by putting myself into highly structured environments and taking on an unreasonable number of responsibilities.  Being obsessively involved with structured organizations and groups made me feel connected to others, but whenever I found myself on my own, I was lost.  In October, 2003, a little over a month after I adopted Banner, my emotional state sank to an unprecedented low.  As it turns out, Banner's recent arrival in my life was critical to helping me through a few extremely dark weeks.  To have a being at my side who is totally loyal, unconditionally loving, and ultimately forgiving was a blessing beyond words.  I recognized that I am the only person in the world who can help Banner to heal from his past emotional wounds, and this thought in turn began my own healing process.  Without Banner, I might still be wandering lost in the shadowed parts of my mind.  Instead, I have been reenergized with passion and ideas, and the adventure of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2004 is just part of a future that shines brightly once more.

There is certainly an intellectual gap between Banner and myself, simply because he is a dog and I am a human.  There is no way for me to truly understand what he is thinking, and he cannot hope to discern my mind.  Through training, we can communicate intellectually in a very limited way.  Banner learns what I expect from him at any given moment through certain visual and verbal signals, and I learn to predict (but not fully understand) how he might behave in a given situation.  However, I believe that Banner and I do connect emotionally in a very deep way, and it is this kind of emotional closeness that I must learn to build with other human beings.  Thus, I feel that my relationship with Banner has and will continue to be highly instructional.  I am hopeful that we will both be able to find peace and healing during our months on the Pacific Crest Trail...