Hiker Intro: Is This Real Life?!
Hello fellow dirtbags, adventurers, and hikertrash!! I’m Victoria and I will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this year (2022)! This is my first attempt at a thru hike and I am beyond excited! This has been a dream of mine since I got into hiking. I’m finally at a place where I can pursue this, so here we go!
On a hike out of the blue
How I got into hiking was actually pretty random. I grew up in Massachusetts, the Boston area more specifically, and didn’t grow up in the outdoors. The closest thing I came was the beach in the summer and the lake my uncle lives on. Being in nature was something I had never felt called to. I found myself at a point in my life where I lacked a challenge – mentally, physically, and intellectually.
I had a sudden and random urge to go on a hike (where that came from, I still don’t know) and reached out to the only friend I had that hiked and asked her to take me. She agreed and told me to pick a trail. Let’s just agree that telling someone who doesn’t know the first thing about hiking to pick a trail is a bad idea. I spent what felt like hours on Google looking for trails in Massachusetts and New Hampshire until I found one that seemed doable. It was only 3 miles… what could possibly go wrong? What I didn’t realize at the time was in those 3 miles, the first mile had over 1200 feet of elevation gain.
Here comes the boom… mic drop
The entire climb was filled with “what the %^@& have I done?” and “why do people do this? This is bull$#%^!” When we finally reached the summit, I started to understand. We stood on a bald overlooking the largest lake in New Hampshire in November and the trees were bursting with color. On the descent, we came to a stream that was too wide to step across and too deep to walk through without getting wet. Instead, there was a log laying across it as a makeshift bridge. However, the log had broken branches all over that were sticking up waiting to impale someone.
Panic set in as I tried to figure out how to get across without dying – I was convinced that if I set foot on the log, I would trip, fall, get impaled, and die. I refused to go out like this! I was fully prepared to walk through the stream in my mesh sneakers rather than set foot on this log. My friend literally grabbed my hand and talked me through the whole process of where to put my feet and in two easy steps, I was on the other side. In the next instant, my world cracked open. I realized that I am so much more capable of things than I ever thought possible. Instantly, I understood the appeal of this new world I was now a part of.
Hiking ruined my life in the best way possible
I had always known the life I thought I wanted and had lived in a way that had prepared for it. Everything I had done in my life I did with the purpose of getting to where I thought I was going – a job in the counterterrorism field for the government in DC. I fully expected to be the stereotypical workaholic you see in movies and TV shows. After all, it was what I prepared for.
When my world cracked open after my first hike in 2015, things quickly began to shift. The things that I had spent my whole life wanting, no longer seemed important. I no longer craved a life only lived for my job. A life lived with intention, adventure, gratitude, and mindfulness suddenly became much more appealing. Over the next few years as I got more into the outdoors, the urge to leave everything behind in search for adventure became so overwhelming.
In 2018, I had the realization that I had begun to add so many things to my “someday” list, but hadn’t done anything on it. The thought that I would wake up one day in 40 years with a list of things I wanted to do but never did was devastating. I vowed to myself to move my “someday” list to a “today” list and start working towards checking things off it.
Item #1: The Pacific Crest Trail.
I’m a free spirit who never had the balls to be free” -Cheryl Strayed
During my “epiphany” stage after my first hike, a friend had recommended the movie Wild to me (cliché, I know). I was still searching for meaning in all of this new information and was still in search for a challenge. Watching the movie, something clicked and the idea of a challenge this grand resonated with me like nothing ever had before. I needed to learn everything I could about the PCT and thru hiking in general. Becoming so connected to yourself and the Earth latched onto my soul and still hasn’t let go. There hasn’t been a day since 2015 that I haven’t thought about the PCT.
I see my adventure on the PCT as the closing of the previous chapter and the beginning of the next one. A few months ago, I finally left my toxic job and it felt like the end of an era! For the first time in almost a decade, I feel FREE! I’m currently working jobs that I actually enjoy just until I leave for the trail. The life I want is finally coming into focus and feels so attainable now. This feeling of excitement and contentment is something I’ve been chasing for so long and simultaneously never actually thought I would ever actually reach.
Adventure is waiting for you with open arms. You just have to be brave enough to embrace it.
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