Finding Solace in Nature
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone… I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” Anne Frank
Why I Am Hiking the PCT
So to really understand how I ended up deciding to hike the PCT this year we have to backtrack a few years. For the last five years I worked for the National Park Service as a ranger. I absolutely loved my job and dedicated my heart and soul to my work. We have a saying as rangers that we “Bleed green and gray,” which are the colors of our uniform. That was definitely true about me and honestly I will never quit bleeding green and gray.
Being a seasonal ranger I got to work and live in many different parks in California, Utah, and Alaska. I got to go on backcountry patrols and see beautiful remote places like the Alaskan Arctic. Unfortunately this last summer I lost my job due to some pretty unfair circumstances (at least I and many other rangers I know feel that way).
Losing my job, well my career, hit me very hard. Being a ranger was who I was and now with that taken away from me I am trying to figure out who I am. Of course, there is also the question of what job will I find next. I never saw myself doing anything other than being a ranger, protecting these beautiful, wild places for future generations to enjoy as we do now. I hope that during my time on the trail I can really find myself again. As cheesy as that sounds, I am looking forward to just having that time to think, unwind, and really heal the hole in my heart from losing a part of my identity.
Losing my job was not the only hardship that hit me recently. A few months ago my grandmother, Mimi, was diagnosed with cancer. When I received the phone call from my mother I was shocked. Mimi is one the toughest, strongest women I know. She was the grandparent I never really had to worry about. Mimi came to visit me in three of the national parks I worked in and went on hikes in all of them.
She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer that develops in your plasma cells, affecting your immune system as well as bone marrow, bone density, and strength. She now has to use a walker because she can’t risk any falls due to the fragility of her bones.
I am very hopeful that her chemo treatments will help and I will have my grandmother around for years to come. Recently I went home to spend some time with her and my family before I start the PCT. The trip did put me behind a bit on finalizing all my gear and trying to get in shape a bit more, but getting to spend the time with family was more important to me, especially when you don’t really know how much time you have left with someone.
My grandma inspires me to be a strong women every day and she is so supportive of my thru-hike. I hope that I can also be an inspiration to others to be strong in the face of hardship. Just because life may seem pretty shitty, and keeps kicking you when you’re down, doesn’t mean you should give up the fight. I’m very hopeful that this thru-hike will allow me to heal my soul; to me nature has always been the best form of therapy.
Thanks for reading. I can’t wait to update more once on the trail.
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