Dream It, Plan It, Do It: My 2023 PCT Thru Hike (1/3)

Part 1 of 3: Dream It

For years I have looked up to the Pacific Crest Trail thru hikers with great admiration. I never imagined an undertaking of this magnitude was something I was capable of. The journey from admiring fan to protagonist of my own PCT adventure set to begin April 17, 2023 has been life changing before I have even taken a single one of my 5.3 million steps. I never thought it would be possible to already have gotten so much out of a trail I have never yet even been to.

I moved from the limitless skies of my parents farmland to the oceans and mountains of the West Coast to begin my nursing career in 2015. My first ever hike was a 5 nighter with my best friend on which I suffered greatly, throwing my backpack onto the trail to have many emotional breakdowns as the throes of the wilderness pushed my emotional and physical resilience to a breaking point. If you had told me at that point in my life I would become an aspiring thru hiker I would have split my gut from intense laughter. It just goes to show you, with time, patience and determination absolutely anything is possible. Limits I had set for myself were actually not actually my real limits, they were just made up by my mind.

2015: Poor quality go-pro images of me suffering through my first overnight hike

2022: Feeling at home in the backcountry

The actual decision to set out on a quest this enormous was perhaps unconventional. A combination of life events, including nursing through the global pandemic had left me physically deconditioned and lost. I was out snowshoeing in early 2022 with a group of friends when a cool looking bunch of guys whizzed past me on these skis that had magic carpets on the bottom. They looked so free, exploring the mountains and chasing powder by breaking their own trails. The next week I clicked into my very own rudimentary set of backcountry ski gear with no idea what I was doing and an extremely poor physical fitness level. I clawed my way up to the top of the mountain using sheer grit and determination. It was almost as if I came out of a thick fog and a switch forever flipped inside of me. Throughout the ski season ski touring was healing, and spending even an afternoon indoors began to make me extremely restless. My compass had been reoriented and I knew that I meant to live a life in the mountains to be true to my adventure spirit. Shortly after my decision process for tackling the PCT began.

Despite my newfound life shakeup the first reaction to hit me when dreaming of attempting the PCT was intense fear and doubt. I would wake up in the middle of the night panicking about rattlesnakes, and if I could handle camping alone. I knew these were fears I needed to confront before I could begin to announce and plan my intentions. I packed my bag and headed deep into the snow covered mountains solo last spring. I knew if I was going to uproot my entire life that I had spent years building I needed to be sure I had the mental fortitude to attempt the trail. The hike in to my destination was eerie because it was so quiet. Not a single soul was around for miles, and I worried about bears. Still I pressed forward. I eventually  arrived at my destination to thick menacing clouds socking in the mountain peak – it appeared heavy rain was imminent. I began to unpack and pitch my tent after shoveling out a tent pad in the snow. 

June 2022Heading into the mountains solo to make sure I could handle the PCT

I glanced down at my watch and realized this my decision point. Would I let my fear overpower me and and run back down to car to safety or would I get it together and spend the night out here? There was a moment where I began unsnapping my tent fly from all 4 corners to pack up hurriedly, but then I composed myself, took a deep breath and stayed.

I don’t think I was able to get more than 10 minutes of sleep all night as heavy rains and winds assaulted my shelter and every strange noise I convinced myself was a bear coming to claw open my tent. It was the famous trail angel’s Scout and Frodo’s audiobook on the PCT that gave me the strength to get through the night and ready to commit to the journey.

Hunkering down for a long cold night in the deep in the mountains 

When the sun finally did rise at 4:50am I knew I had done it. All of my fears and doubts had evaporated. The most beautiful inversion sunrise happened over my campsite that took my breath away. I hiked back down to the parking lot looking as pale as a ghost and exhausted. But I had done it, and I knew I was capable of thru hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

Coming out of the backcountry looking rough but feeling empowered

The sunrise cloud inversion, the sign that I was ready for the challenge

Stay tuned for the next part of the Dream It, Plan It, Do It series

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Comments 2

  • Jenny : Feb 9th

    I look forward to following you on your trek this year! That tent picture of your in the snow – wow!!

  • Steve Hall : Mar 12th

    First listen to your body. Take zero days for mental and physical days off. If you have a chance download books or podcast and music you like. Don’t like peer pressure make judgments calls past your danger zone.Know your capabilities.


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