Blogpost, Pt. I: Hiking to Feel at “Home”

Hi! Hello! Pearl here! This spring I am starting my northbound (NOBO) thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). My start date: April 24, 2019. I will be starting my second thru-hike. I’m starting at the US-Mexico border in California, and hiking north to the US-Canada border in Washington. Approximately, 2,650 miles. Although I am hiking in one general direction, it is a singular place that I am returning to: Home.

From April 13, 2017, to Oct. 6, 2017, I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (AT). The need to return to the trail approached me fast after my 2017 thru-hike. I made it to December 2017, and then I realized how much I missed it Out There.

As I think everything thru, I have begun to compile a list of reasons why I am returning to the trail:

  1. I’m hiking the PCT because I want to thru-hike. Again.
  2. I’m hiking because I’ve never been to California, Oregon, or Washington. I have to see these wild places with my own eyes. I want to take myself to these places. I want to stand in the middle of it all. Pristine and powerful. Where nature resides.
  3. I’m hiking because I miss the serenity and simplicity of nature. Bold and beautiful. And, altogether, connected.
  4. I’m hiking because it makes me feel alive. Instinctual. Being in the unknown, as it requires me to always be present and recognize the grandness and continuity of nature. Being exposed to the elements for so long.  I want to be Out There. Feeling every ounce of sunshine on my skin; feeling every breeze brush through my hair; feeling every breath of fresh air in my lungs; feeling the dirt collect on every part of my body; feeling every drop of water flow. To be Out There…
  5. I’m hiking because it reminds me that everything changes.
  6. I’m hiking because it reminds to let go.
  7. I’m hiking because it makes me feel safe.
  8. I’m hiking because it has taught me self-care. Hungry? Eat. Thirsty? Drink. Tired? Sleep. Hurting? Rest and heal. I learned to listen to my body and to take care of it the best I can. I learned to put myself first. Always. I learned that I do not need much to be happy. Food in my belly, a warm place to sleep, miles under my feet, and being in the presence of nature.
  9. I’m hiking because I learned self-love. Walking for such long distances in the  loneliness of nature has allowed me to dig and search for myself, and to love and understand every single bit of me. No matter what.
  10. I’m hiking because I have never been more kind to myself, than I have been while being Out There.
  11. I’m hiking because it makes me feel strong.
  12. I’m hiking because it makes me feel independent.
  13. I’m hiking because it reminds me that I can trust myself.
  14. I’m hiking because it makes me feel human. Thru-hiking creates special connections between people and the Land. More than anything, it creates special connections between people. The people that you meet while on trail and the places that you intersect with become a part of your experience, and you become a part of theirs. The friendships formed and the connections made, are genuine, inspiring, and enriching. The kindness, encouragement, and support I received from others, on and off trail has always been integral to my hike. I miss the people. I miss the shared humanity that continuously presents itself on trail. I miss the genuine connections. Thru-hiking, time and time again, has spotlighted the beauty of humanity: how good people can be to each other. I have never felt more vulnerable, more trusting, and open to change, than I did on trail. People believe in the trail and what it can provide. A sense of place. A sense of space. A sense of being. A sense of connection. As I navigate the wilderness and communities on trail, thru-hiking remains as a meaningful human experience.

This photo by Kyle Sullivan, was taken of me at McAfee Knob in VA during my AT ’17 thru-hike.

It’s humbling, to be Out There. Looking up at a mountain. Standing on the summit, looking at the land below. Crossing a stream or river. Drinking from a spring. Watching the sun rise and set. Bracing oneself against torrential rain and winds. Admiring the eternity of it all. And realizing that I’m at the intersect of it. It makes me feel so small, as well as a part of something larger. Something meaningful. We have removed ourselves from the cycle of life. A series of connections. And when we feel connected, we feel whole. We feel one with everything and everyone around us. We have respect for everything and everyone around us. A mutual admiration.

This is why I hike.

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Comments 3

  • Avatar
    Rose : Apr 22nd

    What beautiful words and thoughts. Much love to you dear friend absolutely can not wait for you to return home (and to follow vicariously along). <3
    -Rose (Wildflower)

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Joyce : Apr 22nd

      Love your passion for the great outdoors! Enjoy your journey!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Tall Tales : Apr 23rd

    GO PEARL! I love this and I can’t wait to see what follows.

    Reply

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