I Wanna Talk About Me

Hi new and old friends! I am super excited to blog my 2024 PCT hike to share this experience with my friends and family, to inspire the future thru-hikers that are lurking and dreaming out there, and as a therapeutic way for me to document my thoughts and feelings and eventually look back on.


Growing Up

I grew up very outdoors, but not necessarily huge on hiking/camping/backpacking. My family owns a farm in the heart of the Willamette Valley in Oregon, so I was privileged to spend weekends and summers outside with my brother and cousins. As I got older, this turned into being an actual employee doing farm labor, which wasn’t quite as fun. My brother and I also got highly involved in sports year-round, which left little time for the camping and hiking trips we used to do.

2010 hike with my brother and grandmother to nearby Silver Falls State Park.

“Wait, did you know Liz studied abroad?”

Fast forward to 2019, in college, I decided I wanted to study abroad and my only requirements were that they had agricultural studies and plenty of outdoor activities. I am so glad that this landed me in New Zealand – even though I was completely unprepared for what was to come! I made plenty of other international friends, bought a 2000 Honda Civic hatchback (“The Red Racer”), and spent 5 months traveling and hiking around the whole South Island. I packed exactly 1 coat (which was of the knee-length version, more for fashion and less for activity) and 1 pair of Nike tennis shoes because I didn’t even own hiking boots at this point.

My friend, Natalie, and I on a boat tour in Milford Sound – featuring the hiking attire I owned at that time.

One of my new friends was from Austria but he had spent 3 months working at a State Park in Oregon and was constantly asking me if I had done this or that hike in Oregon, and my answer was always “no”. After that I committed myself to hiking and exploring a lot more around the beautiful Pacific Northwest that I’ve been lucky enough to live in my whole life.

Double Whammy: Culture & COVID Shock

I came home from New Zealand in December 2019 and, as we all know, COVID hit just a couple months later. At 21 years old, after going from the freedom of living abroad to being kicked out of my college living situation and back home to my parent’s house, I felt restless and cooped up with the new pandemic restrictions. I decided to turn this energy into exploring my home state as I had promised my Austrian friend. It started with an obsession for waterfall hikes, then my very first backpacking trip in the summer of 2021, and a solo road trip to Utah which taught me that I can be self-sufficient for long periods of time.


Starting Solo

My first solo backpack is honestly a pretty eventful story. Labor Day Weekend of 2022 I decided to take a road trip to North Cascades National Park in Washington. I didn’t necessarily choose to do it alone, but none of my friends were free, so off I went! I had read that North Cascades was better explored in the back country and very popular for backpacking so I knew I had to pack a bag and see it for myself. I went to the Ranger Station to get a backcountry permit and told the Ranger I wanted an easy/medium 1 night backpacking trip. Because it was Labor Day Weekend, all the popular spots were reserved but we found one that headed up the East side of Ross Lake, so I rented a bear canister from the Ranger and headed out.

Mastering the art of photo timers on my first solo backpacking trip.

From the car park to my permitted camping spot was only about 8 miles, so I didn’t leave the trailhead until a little after noon. As I was unloading my backpack from my car, a bee stung me on the thumb which was honestly a pretty painful start, and it swelled quite a bit in my first couple miles. After that first little bump, my hike was very nice. No stunning views as the whole walk was under thick forest canopy, but I enjoyed the quiet and wildlife as I saw very few people.

About 5 or 6 pm I took a short left off the trail to my very clearly marked campsite that I had the permit to stay at that night. Now, the thing about North Cascades is that you are required to have a permit for the exact campsite you are going to stay at for any backcountry camping within the Park. But to my surprise, my campsite already had a tent and a lone, grown, disheveled-looking man cooking dinner within it!

As a young woman on my very first solo backpack, I was completely shocked and didn’t know what to do, so I actually just continued right past him as if that wasn’t my campsite he was set up in. I could tell from the map that there was another campsite about a half mile down so I continued in that direction. When I got to the second campsite I found a middle-aged couple also settled in to this spot. I was so nervous that I think I word-vomited my situation to these complete strangers. They were extremely kind and even offered to walk back with me and confront the man or just stay at their site if I needed. At this point, I decided to put on a brave face and go back on my own to my campsite.

When I got back to my campsite the man was just sitting and eating his dinner, so I asked him if he had a permit for this spot – to which his response was “there are permits for this trail?” in a very heavy accent, that I would later figure out to be French. I politely explained my situation and he revealed to me that he was a PCT hiker (which explained the beard, dirt, and worn clothes) and he had been hiking since March 8th. The wildfires that year had blocked the last 50 miles of trail to the Canada border, so he looked at a map and saw that this East Bank Trail that we were on would also get you to the Canadian border, even if it wasn’t the PCT Northern Terminus. He had no clue that permits were required to camp within North Cascades, and I could no longer blame him. He offered to pack up camp, but by this point I felt comfortable enough to tell him we could both set up tents as the campsite was big enough for both of us.

My first encounter with a PCT hiker, setting up our tents side by side in North Cascades National Park.


We then got to chat about the PCT for the next hour as I cooked and ate my own dinner. I told him I had heard of the trail but wasn’t sure I could ever do it myself, to which he replied anyone could as long as they had enough determination. He never told me his real name, just his trail name “Boomy” which was short for Boomerang. The sun hadn’t even set when he told me we were approaching “hiker midnight” and we bid each other goodnight. He was gone the next morning before I woke. So, Boomy, if you’re out there somewhere – thanks for being one of my first inspirations to do this crazy thing!


My Inspiration

Ever since then, I’ve been addicted to consuming social media, books, and podcasts about the PCT – which has landed me where I’m at today – about to follow the footsteps of Boomy and many others before me,  NOBO on the PCT. To date, my longest backpacking trip is just 2 nights. It may seem like I’m under-prepared to take on such a feat as a probable 150 day wilderness trail, but I like to think that my mental preparation will make up for the physical.

I decided to blog my hike for The Trek because following these same PCT bloggers have been my inspiration and motivation over the last few years. If I can inspire anyone out there thinking about doing the PCT in the future, then I will feel highly accomplished in my writing. I am also a huge fan of this website because it is connected with my favorite podcast, Backpacker Radio, and ran by the host of that podcast, Zach Badger Davis!

I have many goals for my PCT hike, which I plan to cover in my next couple blog posts. But for now, thanks for reading!


2 thumbs up!!

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Comments 5

  • Steve Martin : Mar 18th

    Great introduction! Well written.

  • LeoYermo : Mar 18th

    Liz, what a great write up. You just got one more, old, vicarious follower for your PCT adventure. Here and IG. Thanks in advance.
    Good Walking to YOU.

  • Natalie P : Mar 18th

    Liz!!!! I’m so excited for you and your new adventure! Being your friend and watching you grow these past few years have been an absolute treat! I’m so excited to follow you on your journey, please give us lots of updates! Be strong mentally and physically, and know your loved ones are cheering you on! Love you sis!

  • Tim : Mar 19th

    Hi, love your enthusiasm! I’m a retired triple crowner who enjoys reading these accounts and reliving my own hikes over the years. My wife and I honeymooned on the NZ South Island – hiking honeymoon way back in 1988. I think your odds of success on the PCT are quite high due to your attitude. In my mind, it’s more about enthusiasm and love of adventure than it is about dogged determination (of course, that doesn’t hurt when conditions are subpar). As long as you hold on to your childlike sense of wonder you’ll have a fantastic trip. All the best in the days ahead!

  • Wendy Brentano : Mar 19th

    Good luck Elizabeth. Through the challenges and successes of your PCT adventure I’ll be cheering you on, lifting you up, and celebrating with you from afar. Thank you for teaching me so much in this thing called life and sharing yourself and your journey. 💕


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