Fat Chance: Why I Am Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

I’m hiking 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada.

“What?” she said as I shared with my friend that I plan to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail. She looked at me the way a dog does when they are confused when you offer them table scraps of leftover salad. I was a fat girl hiking. 

A blank stare fell across my boss’s face when I told him it was my dream to hike from Mexico to Canada in one continuous adventure. He blinked and turned his head to the side much like the dog did. Confusion. 

But it was the dean of students from my recent teaching job—an athlete herself—who looked at me and, without skipping a beat, said, “I’m going with you. What’s your plan?” I was lost in her open-mindedness and her interest. At the time, I was speechless; I didn’t have a plan yet or at least no way to articulate it. No one had ever asked me before. I think she may have sensed my hesitation and nerves. She said, “Well, if anyone I know can do it, you definitely will.”

Plus-Size Pride

This Watermelon Hiker no longer felt judged for my plus-size appearance. I no longer felt like I was a size 20 trying to fit into a size 18, because that was the largest size in store. I felt supported and she helped me realize that I can do hard things. Her response was more than I could ask for: she listened. She listened to how the words “Pacific Crest Trail” came out of my mouth. She saw the spark in my body and ignored my understandable insecurity. She didn’t see the bullied Watermelon from seventh grade; she saw me. 

Making the Decision: Pacific Crest Trail

The day that I cleaned out my classroom for the last time was the same day I committed to the PCT 2020.

Deciding to take time away from teaching was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. The circumstances were far from ideal and it was unplanned. My family was dealing with a difficult loss and we needed to pull together. I loved my job, my peers, and my bosses. It was my “forever job” and I belonged. But it was at that time when I had to make a choice. Family first. 

When I resigned, I wrote a note to my students on the board. I didn’t want them to see me upset, so a note would have to do. They taught me so much in the short time that I was with them. But the most important thing I learned is that we are always growing. Life balance is the goal. I told them that I was going on a 2,650-mile adventure and that it was time for me to focus on growing myself. If it wasn’t clear by the time I finished my note, I told them that it was one of the greatest gifts of my life to have spent time with them. 

In reality, it was the gift from the dean of students that made the impossible possible. She knew what I didn’t until that moment. I CAN do hard things and I will. This is why I’m hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

 

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Comments 37

  • Cheryl Lewis : Oct 15th

    What do I think? I THINK YOU ROCK!!! I’ll see you out there! 😃💃😃

    “Tell Me No”

    Reply
    • Watermelon : Oct 15th

      Thank you so much!!!! I hope we cross paths on those trails! Thank you for the support!

      Reply
    • Phil Westmoreland : Nov 11th

      It’s yours to own up to and you definitely show you have this. Love your posts and look forward to reading more of your journey. I will be 67 years old when I start my adventure on the trail in 2021.

      Reply
  • Earl Tolefree : Oct 15th

    I wish I could go with you. Happy trails!

    Reply
    • Watermelon : Oct 15th

      The trail is waiting for you! Come on down! Thanks for the support!

      Reply
  • September Meadows : Oct 15th

    I feel that YOU ROCK! 😀

    I won’t see you up there but have announced plans to do the same but my step off date is tentatively March 1, 2022. I’m 54 and a size 20. I’m going to spend the next two years collecting and wearing in the trail gear I need and getting my weight down by 60+ pounds before I step off but every fiber of my being is wanting to do what you’re doing… GO NEXT YEAR! Money might not buy happiness but it can make your goals happen more quickly ‘😆

    I hope that you’ll be vlogging your adventure, I’d love to follow your progress.

    Best of fortunes and many happy vistas to you, Watermelon 😎

    Reply
    • Watermelon : Oct 15th

      Girl! We are like the same body! I’m a 20 size and 5,4”….I guess more like 5,3 and 3/4 but who’s counting!

      I won’t be vlogging on theTrek, but I WILL be using my Instagram stories for video. @fireroamingwild

      As for getting “in-shape,” I had to step away from the scale at 235lbs. I had back surgery and plan to train with my back in mind. So, I don’t have a weight loss plan…I mean, of course that would be cool. But, I’m super excited to try the PCT as I am. But, way more prepared:)

      Please blog/Vlog your prep and experience! I want to follow you!

      Reply
  • Deb : Oct 15th

    You go girl!! I am sooo jealous. You got this!!!

    Reply
    • Deb : Oct 15th

      Deb! I need a hiking partner! I don’t think I snore. C’mon!

      Reply
  • Les Stone : Oct 15th

    Congratulations on your decision! You inspire me. I’m certain you will approach this trek with the seriousness you’ve shown to become a teacher and you’ll have lots of folks cheering you on.
    In Aug 2020 I’ll be twice your age and am still wanting to thru hike the PCT.
    It passes through my town, Ashland OR
    I’ve hiked pieces of the PCT in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Started backpacking at 55. Did one 3-day trip a year for few years and then moved away to flat land. Back in Ashland again, and did 3 trips this summer.
    I’m hooked .
    I’m hooked on doing really difficult things and then basking in the personal success of moving out of my comfort zone.
    I have the PCT hat and some maps. I’d get more. (Maps)
    I have all the necessary equipment. I need to get in better shape before hitting the trail. I have a gym membership, though I don’t go often. A plan to hike the entire PCT would be my motivation to go. The “carrot” if you will.
    I only need to muster the courage to show myself that at 69 I can do this!
    August 3, 2020 marks the beginning of another decade in my life. I’d love to celebrate my birthday on the PCT…to be continued

    Reply
    • Watermelon : Oct 15th

      Les! I am so thankful for your support! I’m totally motivated even more by your grit to blaze trails! Aug. 3, 2020 is a lucky day and I bet you’ll find yourself at that terminus on your birthday!

      I’m not as seasoned as you in the backpacking department. I just got my pack for training purposes and I have a treadmill. Although, I’ll be hitting actual trails as part of the plan.

      While I hope to see you on trail! You’ll have to show me around Ashland if I make it…ahem, WHEN I make it. 🙂

      Reply
  • Just "Bob" : Oct 15th

    I am impressed beyond words !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Great story and good luck out there.

    * When life hands you lemons, throw them back and demand chocolate*

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Oct 15th

      Just “Bob”!!!! I love it! Do you mind if I quote you on that one! You made me laugh out loud! Thank you for that!

      Reply
  • Victoria : Oct 15th

    Optimistic attitude. Own it!

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Oct 15th

      Thanks, Victoria! Sometimes you have to try before you buy, but this time I just bought it. And, I DO own it! Thank you for your kind words!

      Reply
  • Byron : Oct 15th

    You will love it! I did California many years ago. And most of the rest in small seftions. I have yet to do the portion between Rainy Pass and the northern teminus. I’d love to do it all again. If you do a blog or vlog of some sort, please let me know..i’d love to follow along… enjoy! I’d say good luck, but, you won’t need it… not once you get a couple weeks in. You’ll be all about hitting the next goal! The trail changes you, in the best ways…

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Oct 15th

      Byron! Thank you so much for your support! I’ll be blogging her @ theTrek, and I hope to use the Instagram Story feature for videos. I didn’t want to commit to too much technology and just drop off the face of the earth once I start the trail!

      Your feedback is so awesome! Thanks for believing in me and I can’t wait to discover how the trail provides!

      Reply
  • Toni : Oct 15th

    Shannon!!! I wish you the very best! I am totally inspired by you and want to follow you in this amazing journey. Where can I follow you?

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Oct 15th

      Hi Toni! I will be blogging here at theTrek, but you can follow me on Instagram @fireroamingwild – Your comment inspires me in so many ways! Thank you for being here!

      Reply
  • Daniel : Oct 16th

    If you haven’t already, please check out Second Chance on YouTube. Without a doubt you will find him a tremendous inspiration. Godspeed to you.

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Oct 16th

      Thanks Daniel! I follow his account on IG! Such a cool dude and part of the reason I decided to do the PCT myself!

      Reply
  • Axule Morphi : Oct 16th

    Hi! If you need/want an extra person, I’m a 31yo female looking to do the PCT as well. Currently unemployed mother of 3 and my life is falling apart this year, starting with my mom’s lung cancer diagnosis in January 2019. I’m also an amateur writer and have a degree in biology and would be willing to help blog 😉

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Oct 16th

      Oh, Axule. I am so saddened by how your year has unfolded! I’d love to get to know you! It sounds like we have some things in common! My year suddenly fell apart and the PCT called me. Since I’ve made the decision (even though I’m working on finances – I should figure that out), I have felt like I’m doing something positive in uncertain times. I think regardless you should do the PCT and apply to blog here through theTrek! I’m on Instagram @fireroamingwild – You can do this!

      Reply
  • Joyce Gauthier : Oct 16th

    Omw girl you’re so inspiring! Im a big girl too but 54 years old retired nurse facing my second back surgery. Also a hip injury from work that retired me. I’m having a gastric sleeve in a cpl months to lose weight so I can have my back surgery and hopefully get more active. Currently in 5’3 and a half in a size 24 so I feel ya! Do it for all of us who can’t. I dont know ya but I love your spirit and hopefully someday I might see you out there! I will be following you on insta

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Oct 16th

      I’m so glad we’ve connected now on IG! The power of this community is amazing! I hope that your health journey finds you returning to a trail, even part of the PCT! ❤️

      Reply
  • Anonymous : Oct 16th

    We hope that you have an amazing time out on the trail Mrs.Quadres! We miss you sooooo much, and if you ever decide to return to teaching we will welcome you with open arms.. again!

    Safe Travels!
    — An 8th grader who misses you <3

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Oct 16th

      8th grader…I wish I could be there with you and also be able to take care of myself too! But, right now, I’m on this quest. I cannot tell you how much I love all of you guys! Email me, silly! I want to know who this is 🙂 xoxo Don’t forget that you will get out of theatre what you put into it! Make use of that power!

      Reply
  • cristina : Oct 16th

    You, determined lady, have already taken the first ‘steps’ of your hike!

    Decision and action will make it a reality

    This summer, I hiked Washington PCT with Day-Z, 70. She has now hiked all but the last 89 miles of the PCT. This was accomplished by section hiking whatever she could fit into her life over the last two decades. At one point on our August hike, she realized her hiking poles were speeding south in her recently visiting husband’s vehicle. Did this stop her? Nope! At the local gift shop she purchased a ‘walking stick’ AKA a cane! This gained her no little measure of hiker notoriety!

    She was a great inspiration to me.

    You are another!

    Give it your best and enjoy the results.

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Oct 16th

      Cristina! Wow, Day-Z sounds like a total rockstar! I can see why you are so inspired! I’m amazed: a cane! When I set out to write this blog, I never imagined such support. I didn’t realize there was a comment section. 🙂 I appreciate your post so much! It motivates me even more! Xoxo

      Reply
  • Cheri : Oct 18th

    Anna Huthmaker, aka Mudbutt hiked the trail some years back. She always wondered why she was the only plus size woman out there. She was told many times she could not do it because she was heavy.

    When she came home, she started a womens hiking group called Trail Dames, for curvy women. They have chapters in many states. For those of your female followers who can’t do a long distance hike but want or need encouragement and a chance to hike with other curvy women, they should look them up to see if there is one in their state. As for you, you could contact her to talk about her challenges. She is a great story teller, has lots of wisdom and would be an asset for anyone who wants to hike. Just reach out to Trail Dames.

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Oct 18th

      Cheri! This is a great resource! Thank you so much for giving us an opportunity to meet more plus-size hikers! I’ll be checking them out! I hope she has an Instagram, because I’m not on Facebook. Thank you!

      Reply
  • Rainwolf : Oct 19th

    You can do it!! I am so excited to read more of your epic, you got this!!!

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Oct 19th

      Thank you so much, Rainwolf! I really appreciate your support! 🙂

      Reply
  • Bill Yeadon : Oct 20th

    Shannon,
    Please reconsider about blogging. Your writing talent should be shared with the world. You can have a positive influence on so many people who desperately need it.

    Bill AT wannabe.

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Oct 20th

      Bill! Wow. What an amazing compliment. When I started blogging for theTrek, it was simply because I didn’t find many articles that answered my questions about plus-size novice backpacking. Once I got this opportunity, I realized how much I love writing. I’ll definitely blog about these experiences for those others who’s google searches turn up nothing. I’m thankful for the Trek for that opportunity. But, I’m inspired to write a book someday – even if it is never published. 🙂 Thank you so much, Bill.

      Reply
  • Joan Marie : Oct 23rd

    Shannon, please keep writing! You have inspired me SO MUCH already!

    Reply
    • Shannon Quadres : Oct 23rd

      Thanks, Joan! I’m definitely going to keep writing! I’m currently starting a workout training schedule and my next piece will be about my training process. So, if you want to know what’s going on right now, check out my IG stories @fireroamingwikd – Thank you for your support!

      Reply

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