How I Am Mentally Preparing for My First Thru-Hike

I have always loved hiking and camping, but at the end of the day I know I can go home whenever I want. I also know that hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is a different story. I mean, I can go home anytime I want, but I’m going with the goal of finishing. I know there is a possibility I won’t make it to Canada before the snow, but here are some things that I’m doing to calm my nerves and mentally prepare myself before hitting the trail.


I think the best way to prepare for anything is to do your research. Books have always been there to give ¬†information on anything you could want to learn. I have been reading books like Pacific Crest Trials by Zach Davis and Carly Moore, HikerTrash by Erin Miller, and of course Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I’ve even been reading books on survival and how to take care of my body on trail. Reading has eased my mind. Also, do Facebook discussion posts count as reading?…

Joining a Group

One of the best things about social media is you get to connect to people from all over the world. When I was doing all of my research online I came across the PCT Class of 2022 which was very exciting. Being able to join the group and getting to interact with everybody is such a cool experience. You can read through posts from people who have the same questions and worries as you, and a whole lot of advice from previous hikers. You also get to compare gear and learn about all the different options of things you can use and how to be ultralight!

Talking About My Worries

This to me is really important because talking to someone about your thru-hike worries can ease your mind. Whether that is talking to a loved one, a friend, or even someone that you know that has experienced thru-hiking really helps! I’ve had many discussions with my family about my safety and what I might encounter on trail and talking about it has made the trail seem less scary.

Know Your Limits

As my start date is fast approaching, I like to practice yoga and meditate to bring peace into my life. I know some days on the trail won’t be easy but slowly incorporating moments of peace and patience will help me further along my journey. I also know that physically preparing my body is something I must do as much as I can before going on trail. I am slowly pushing my body every day and taking it one day at a time. ¬†This will be super important because I know that the first couple of weeks I have to take it nice and slow so my body can adjust, and knowing my limits will help me on trail to prevent injury.


At the end of the day, you have to know that thru-hiking will be fun but not without hard days. There will be long mileage days, cold rainy days, river crossings, and potential snow to trek. But knowing beforehand and learning all you can before trail can mentally help you prepare. The trail won’t be all physical, it is going to be mental so I hope these tips help you!


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Comments 3

  • P : Mar 3rd

    Hey, Jackie! Love your posts and am wishing you all the best on the trail.
    Question: That rock formation shown behind you in your first post as well as with your bio, is that taken in the Palo Duro Canyon? I worked for a couple years in Canon, TX, and it looks familiar.

    • Jackie Bocanegra : Mar 3rd

      Hi! Thank you! It is Palo Duro Canyon, The Lighthouse Trail.


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