I’m not nervous, you’re nervous!

T-1 day until I start hiking the Pacific Crest Trail southbound. Hart’s Pass is showing zero inches of snow and next week’s temperature is predicted to only get as low as 45 degrees. Whomever thought I needed my zero degree sleeping bag is crazy! (Hint, it was me). Luckily, the REI in Seattle had a lightweight 18 degree bag just waiting for me to purchase it!

About Me!

Hi! My name is Morgan and this is my first long distance thru-hike. I’ve backpacked week long adventures before, but thru-hiking the PCT is a whole new ball game for me. I’m excited to broaden my knowledge and really become the hiker trash I’ve always wanted to be.

At the end of May this year, I graduated from Milwaukee School of Engineering with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. After this hike, I’ll be working for Milwaukee Tool as an Electrical Engineer. Who said engineers can’t also be crazy hiking people?? In all seriousness, I’m very grateful to Milwaukee Tool for understanding how important this hike is to me and for allowing my start date to be pushed off until November. In all of the research I’ve done, engineering does not seem to be a common career in thru-hikers. I’m hoping that as I hike and blog, more will follow.

Another fun fact about me is that I was born without a left hand! I have fun with it and make jokes, but I never let it stand in my way. I’m able to tie my shoes, braid my hair, and function as a normal human fairly well up to this point. Now I’m going to thru-hike the PCT. Through blogging this hike and other forms of social media I’m hoping to reach a wide range of people. And I want to leave everyone with one key message. Anyone can do it, not all of your limbs are necessary in hiking. You can even be an engineer! So do it!!

Pre-Hike Planning

As the title indicates, I may have been panicking up until today. I’ve been scouring the internet for deals on gear (this shit is expensive) and unfortunately I had to buy a new sleeping bag today – $480 later. But, it really brought my pack weight down and the Spark SPIII is much smaller than my zero degree! Now, my backpack isn’t over my head when I put it on.

I’ve also been freaking out about food. I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing about it. Everyone has told me “you’ll figure it out on trail”. Yeah, but I need to start somewhere!!! I need to start with food and send my first box to Stehekin before I even get on trail so it gets there on time. I took several trips to Costco and have a beefy list of every food I could possibly bring and their nutrition information. This is what I’ve come to decide on (for now).

Breakfast (Cold)

  • Nestle Chocolate Instant Breakfast
  • Powdered milk
  • Naked Mass Protein Powder
  • Oatmeal
  • Cranberries


  • Protein Bars
  • Apple sauce packets
  • Fruit leather
  • Nut butters
  • Liquid IV
  • Rice Crispy
  • Beef Jerky
  • Tuna Packet
  • Nuts
  • Crackers


  • Ramen/Miso Soup/Mac and cheese
  • Salmon Packets
  • Olive oil

I’m going to get bored. I already know it! But, I really struggled getting my calorie intake up. In my practice hikes I burned about 4,000 calories doing 20 miles and that’s in Wisconsin! This diet puts me at about 3,000 calories. I’m hoping all those that gave me advice were right about me figuring it out on the trail. Once I do, I’ll be sure to let you know!

Is This Real?

I came with some friends to Seattle to send me off! We ate some really great fish and had a wonderful time walking around. It didn’t hit me that I am really doing this until I handed my friend Elle my bag of “normal” clothes to take with her back home and my other friend Amanda was making sure I had enough toothpaste for the next few days and asking if I needed extra carabiners.

All I had with me is what I’ll be carrying the next five months. So many things raced through my head like, “do I really like hiking this much??” and “I don’t have a plane ticket, I guess there is no bailing now”. I know that I love hiking and I also know I didn’t want to bail. It’s just the first time it really hit me that I’m doing this. I think I was too stressed out trying to plan food in order to get above 3,000 calories to think about it!

Wish me luck! I got this! I’m not worried at all!

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Comments 11

  • Jen C : Jun 22nd

    Super excited for you, I’m signing up for your news letters so I can follow your progress!
    May your journey take you where you need to go dear friend!

  • David : Jun 23rd

    Happy hiking Morgan!

  • Karen : Jun 23rd

    Best of luck! Such an exciting undertaking. Can’t wait to read more!

  • DaddyLonglegs : Jun 23rd

    Can’t change the past and the future is undetermined …so stay present in the moment & relish the journey. Happy Trails!

  • Kenny : Jun 23rd

    So excited to see a fellow Wisconsinite out hitting a thru hike! I look forward to watching your progress! Happy trails Morgan!

  • Mikeycat : Jun 24th

    Congrats on your journey. As an electrical engineer with 22 years under my belt, you wouldn’t be the only techie on the trail. 😉

    Long shot here, but you aren’t related to any Dr Kristen Balog by chance? Just saw the last name. She helped me with anxiety years ago. Kudos if by some slim chance you’re related. Lol

    As for a trail name, Southpaw or Lefty McGee come to mind. When life hands you lemons, roll with it.

    Good luck on your journey. Don’t forget to slow down from time to time to enjoy the journey. Take care.

    • Morgan Balog : Jun 24th

      Thank you so much!! And okay that’s awesome!! I’m so happy to hear that there are more engineers out here. All I’ve heard is how hard it is to hike after you start working.

      I don’t believe I am related, but that’s so good to hear!

      Oh! I like those!! Thank you for the input! And also thank you for the advice, I do need to slow down and take time to look around.

  • Northstar : Jun 24th

    Morgan is very cool


  • Old Engineer who still can hike. : Jun 25th

    Morgan I am a retired mechanical second-degree engineer (old school) for 30 plus years in test and measurement field. I have been hiking for around 40 years now. 1 to 2 weeks at a time. I will send you some hiking tips, that I have learned over the years. 1st tip. Hike your own hike. 2nd tip. Listen to your body. 3rd tip. Trail mix is good food. (Mix in your oatmeal and pick me up snack.) 4th tip. Rain gear works for keeping mosquitos away. 5th tip. Take in your surroundings while hiking, not just the trail you are walking on.

    Take care,

    Old M.E. hiker

    • Morgan Balog : Jul 17th

      Thank you so much for your input and advice, you have no idea how much it means to me. I will definitely keep the rain gear to avoid mosquitoes thing in mind. I need it for the biting flies!!

      I’m glad to hear I can still be an engineer and hike. I’m very thankful for your insight.

  • Lisa Holmes : Jun 25th

    You got this!! I’m looking forward to your blog posts. : )


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