Why I’m Hiking the PCT in 2020

The first question that every aspiring thru-hiker gets (usually after an uncomfortable pause) is, “Why?” So, here it is—my why.

To Learn to Let Others Help

I like to think I’m good at giving help, but I know I’m really bad at taking it. It’s been said that no one hikes the PCT alone. I know I will fail if I don’t ask for and accept help along the way. A successful thru-hike will mean that I’ve learned a lot about relating to others. Also, I’m a lot nicer to myself on trail than in “real life.” I’m going to find a way to bring that self-compassion off trail, too.

To Build a Door so Opportunity Can Knock

I have no idea what post-trail life will bring, but I’m excited to find out. I’m stepping away from a career I started dreaming about when I was 12, just so I can walk from Mexico to Canada. I have no preconceived notions of what comes next. I’m grateful for the time to think it through.

It’s There

Seriously, have you seen these three ridiculously beautiful states I’m about to walk through? John Muir was definitely on to something when said “of all the upness accessible to mortals, there is no upness comparable to the mountains.”

I Can

This seems really simple, but for me, it’s the most compelling reason to hike. For a long time, an adventure of this magnitude was only for people that met some definition of badassery I couldn’t conceive of assigning to myself. It was only two years ago while I was decorating Christmas cookies that I began to ask, “Why not me?” And now here I am, ready to take those six million steps to Canada.

It’s not the Appalachian Trail

Sorry, AT-ers, but you can keep your rocks, ticks, humidity, and creepy shelters haunted by the Blair Witch. (I’m including this mainly to laugh at future me when she someday announces her intent to thru-hike the AT.)

Thanks for coming along on this long walk with me! I’d love to hear your thoughts on my “why,” my gear list, or anything else about my upcoming hike.

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Comments 4

  • Lance A Goehring : Nov 17th

    Congrats from another mid-career PCT ’20 hiker! Nice post, Stephanie.

  • Yermo : Nov 18th

    Another reason. So when you are in your 70s, like me, you don’t wring your hands and wish you had done exactly what you are doing,. What a great adventure. I would hope more people what say HOW GREAT IS THAT? instead of WHY.

  • Kim : Jan 9th

    Steph, your “why” is perfect! Your 113C sisters will be cheering you on every step of the way. Girl, this is self care to the max!! Happy trails! Love you!

  • Tracey : Feb 20th

    Good luck. Hope to follow your posts. I come out and provide trail magic just off the Hat Creek Rim. Maybe I will see you. Hope the trail is all you anticipate and more!


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