Backpacker Radio #146 | Hazel “Platypus” Platt
In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are joined by Hazel Platt known on trail as Platypus. In addition to thru-hikes of the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Northwest Trail, Hazel also serves as the Volunteer Engagement Associate for the PCTA. Hazel is also a queer/trans hiker, going by the he/they pronouns. We go deep in this interview, learning about Hazel’s emotional journey of coming out as a trans hiker during the height of lockdown in the less than welcoming environment of a conservative community in West Virginia. We also learn about the differences of Hazel’s thru-hikes, where they had come out as queer prior to the AT, and trans shortly before embarking on the Pacific Northwest Trail. We chat about Hazel’s love for off-trail hiking, including the highlights and lowlights of navigating on the PNT. We conclude the interview with an overview of Hazel’s work at the PCTA, the importance volunteers play for the Pacific Crest Trail, and what the future beholds for the non-profit.
We wrap the show with a check-in from MG, Backpacker Radio’s Sponsored hiker, as she gets ready for her SOBO AT thru-hike, we learn about a gentleman hiking the AT carrying a leafblower, and a half-baked patent-pending about how to improve nalgenes.
Download this episode.
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Interview with Hazel “Platypus” Platt
Time stamps & Questions
00:04:45 – QOTD: How was the Denver Hiker Trash meetup?
00:13:05 – BPR Announcements: Trail Days Road Trip, Asheville Meetup May 11, 6:30pm
00:15:15 – Introducing Hazel
00:15:45 – What’s your backpacking resume?
00:16:42 – What caused you not to finish the Long Trail?
00:17:19 – Did you feel in over your head starting the AT?
00:18:10 – Any notable stories from the AT?
00:19:40 – What was the inspiration to become sober?
00:20:40 – What would you like to share about your coming out process?
00:23:04 – What was the reception like in West Virginia or online?
00:25:35 – Can you walk us through what it was like when the pandemic started for you?
00:29:12 – Tell us about your tech career prior to hiking.
00:33:08 – Did the cloud around gender dysphoria lift at all after coming out?
00:35:35 – Can you speak to some of the common cultural challenges you’re inundated with?
00:40:43 – What comes up for you when someone gets your pronouns wrong?
00:41:47 – What was your experience and reception like on the Pacific Northwest Trail?
00:46:06 – Was there a difference in your hiking experience from the AT to the PNT?
00:48:50 – What was it like going from the community of the AT to the isolation of the PNT?
00:51:04 – Did you see any grizzlies?
00:51:42 – Tell us about the time you got lost.
00:56:54 – Do you know how much more of the trail has been developed in recent years?
00:58:43 – Can you speak to the community you found on trail compared to what you expected?
01:01:24 – Are there places you’d suggest someone look for community prior to hiking?
01:04:15 – Discussion about history.
01:10:40 – Tell us a story that encapsulates the bigger picture history of the AT.
01:13:30 – Tell us a fun fact about plants.
01:15:21 – Tell Zach the story about George Washington, land surveying, and the Fairfax line.
01:20:14 – Tell us about your role with the PCTA.
01:21:20 – Can you tell us more about the role volunteers play for the PCTA?
01:22:56 – Can you speak to some of the biggest challenges of working with volunteers?
01:26:37 – What is your vision for more inclusive programs and messaging within the PCTA?
01:30:18 – How do you see yourself accomplishing your own goals within your work?
01:32:22 – Do you have any parting thoughts to share?
01:36:55 – Thank you!
- The Colorado Trail Guide: Logistics by Kelly Floro
- Man Hiking the AT with a Leafblower: Mascot Hikers and Why They Do It by Bloodhound
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