Hiker Intro: Expensive Lasagna and Signs from the Universe

My name is Margot (she/her), and in 2023, I’ll be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail going southbound. I’m hoping to be at the border with Canada on the first week of July, snow levels permitting. Us SOBOs apply for the PCTA permits in January, so I’ll have more of an idea of when I’m starting then.

On the Tour du Mont Blanc in 2020 (I cried about 5 minutes after this photo was taken)

A bit about myself

I’m French, I grew up near the city of Poitiers, where the closest thing to a mountain is a little hill about 20 km from my house with a couple hundred stairs. I’ll be 28 years old when I set off on the Pacific Crest Trail. By day, I’m a macroeconomist with a deep, deep love for spreadsheets that, of course, extends to my preparation of my thru-hike.

I’ve always loved walking, but I only discovered “proper” hiking when I was living in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2018. I was 23, and it blew my mind. I went on a hike in the Drakensberg region where the view at the top was completely obstructed by clouds, and I still became obsessed.

Since then, hiking has always been my favorite way to spend my time away from work, followed very closely by reading (will I bring my Kindle in my backpack? I’m still thinking about it).

My hiking experience

I’m almost exclusively a solo hiker. I’m a textbook introvert so being alone, and especially in nature, is how I’m able to recharge. I’m also a firm believer that if you wait for other people to come with you, you’ll simply never do what you want to.

My first overnight hike was in 2020, when I hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc. Was it a bad choice for a first overnight? Yes, definitely. Do I regret it? Maybe at the time, but not anymore. There was a lot of blood, sweat and tears, plenty of sketchy snow passes, crazy water crossings (I learnt the hard way that you shouldn’t go too early in the year) and, scariest of all, a €36 plate of lasagna in Switzerland (that was about $43 at the time). I called my mom crying on the penultimate day because I wanted to give up. I ended up finishing after she gave me a pep talk, but definitely thought I would never do something like that every again.

I moved to Australia for work in the middle of the pandemic. I was incredibly excited to discover what hikes the country had to offer, and once the borders between states opened again in early 2022, I did just that. In January, I hiked the Overland Track in Tasmania. It was a beautiful trail, but more than anything for me, it was an amazing social experience. I met a group – a tramily of sorts – of amazing people, some of which I’m still in contact with today.

A few months later, I set off to do the Larapinta Trail in Central Australia. It was 230 km (142-ish miles) of pure bliss. It was the first time I trained for a hike (I know, crazy concept), and I realized that when I prepared for it, I was actually alright at it!

Contemplating the meaning of life on the Larapinta Trail

Why am I hiking the PCT?

I can’t exactly pinpoint when I learned about the PCT. I do know that it was a while ago, as I feel like it’s always been at the back of my mind. I started contemplating a PCT thru-hike after the Overland Track, when I was bedridden with COVID and needed to plan future adventures so I wouldn’t go crazy.

My hike of the Larapinta Trail confirmed to me that I would be happy on the trail for a longer stretch of time. I also got the sign from the universe that I was waiting for when I met a PCT alumni that goes under the trail name of Coyote. We talked about my plans and hers to hike the AT in 2023 with her partner she had met a few years ago on the PCT.

After two years in Australia, I’m longing to walk through real mountains (sorry Australia, I still love you and your hills). Although I’m going to be doing just that in New Zealand next month, I’m keen to get away from the real world for a longer while and take in the views from the Cascades and the Sierras, and everything in between (and after).

Why am I SOBOing?

The main reason I’m going SOBO is timing: my work contract in Australia ends on May 14th. Even if I got on a plane to San Diego immediately, that would be a pretty late start date. I’ll go back home to France for a month or so, hang out with my dog, my family and friends (in this exact order) that I haven’t seen in two years, and then be off to Seattle.

Starting with Washington, although it’s a challenge as it’s among the hardest sections of the trail, is something I’m looking forward to greatly. I can’t wait to be in the middle of the mountains, and just embrace the suck.

I know that going SOBO might mean you have less of a “social” experience, and although I’m definitely hoping to make more friends along the way, I’m not too worried about being alone for stretches of time.

Here’s to taking you on a long walk with me, cheers!

Looking very fashionable in the mountains near Canberra, Australia

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Comments 3

  • Melanie : Nov 24th

    Please add a glossary for boomers;)

    • Nate Palmer : Nov 27th

      Hi, Margot! I’m Nate and I’ll be blogging with the trek as I head NoBo. Can’t wait to follow your journey SoBo!

      • Margot Favennec : Nov 30th

        Hi Nate! Can’t wait to follow you too and get major FOMO when you start 😉 Maybe we’ll cross paths somewhere!!


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