2,650 Miles: A Long Time Coming

Hey everyone! My name is Sydney (she/her), and I’m here to document my 2023 thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail! To tell you a little bit about myself, by the time I’m hiking, I’ll be a recent graduate from the University of Michigan after getting my BS in Environmental Engineering. Originally from Illinois, I was born and raised in the Midwest. In my free time, I love climbing, hiking (surprise?), reading, writing, and hanging out with my pals. I also love baking. Like, really love baking.

My backpacking resume includes trips to Colorado, Wyoming, the white mountains in New Hampshire, multiple areas in Michigan, and, most recently, Big Bend National Park (more to come on that later). I’ve spent a summer doing conservation work in Utah and peak-bagging in the northeast. Long story short, I love being outside. Whatever form that takes.

That’s me!

The Backstory

I vividly remember the first time thru-hiking took up residence in my brain. I was a sophomore in high school driving through my suburb with one of my best friends when she brought up doing a section of the AT. At that time in our lives, we threw a lot of adventures around, dreaming about doing them but never getting around to it. Thru-hiking, however, struck a chord. To live in the woods for five months with your only goal of the day being to simply just get up and walk. Does it get any better than that? That’s when I started binge-watching youtube YouTube videos and reading everything I could find about thru-hiking. Fast forward to seven years later, and that girl who knew nothing about nothing is finally living out her dream of walking from Mexico to Canada (knowing hopefully a little more than nothing).

The Hike

I’ll be starting this hike with one of my good friends from college. Maggie and I have been friends since freshman year and have been climbing together for the past two years. We’ve also been on a backpacking trip in Colorado together, a climbing trip to Kentucky, as well as many more shenanigans in school. We both have to get off the trail at different points for personal obligations, so we won’t be able to hike the whole thing together, but I am so excited to be embarking on this journey with my ultimate adventure buddy!

Baby Maggie and I on a backpacking trip.

So why do I want to do this crazy thing?

For me, and I’m sure many others who chose to embark on this journey, the PCT is the ultimate adventure. To experience the untethered freedom of spending your days in the desert, the mountains, the forest, feeling the power of putting one foot in front of the other. I want to breathe deep and unlock creative thoughts that have been buried under years spent in the academic system. I want to discover the lengths my body and my mind can go. To strip it all down to what I can carry on my back and the distance my two legs can carry me and see what is left underneath. To meet incredible people, see incredible things, drink incredible milkshakes, and learn a lot. I want to shake things up a little bit and gain new confidence in myself and my capabilities.

And I am so excited to share this crazy adventure with all of you. I hope these posts offer inspiration, guidance, and some funny stories along the way. Thank you to everyone reading, to my friends and family for their endless support, for always believing in me, and to all of you for following along with me!

Rainy day in Big Bend National Park.

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Comments 1

  • Kathleen S Whalen : Jan 8th

    I’m planning to thru hike the PCT in 2024!

    I’m following Sydney’s journey, along with others as I continue to get geared up, literally for my experience!

    Happy Trails! ?


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