Books, Podcasts, and Ted Talks to Inspire Your Next Adventure


It is intimidating to start any new adventure. In less than 2 months, I will step foot at mile 1 of the Pacific Crest Trail – an adventure that boasts 700 miles of desert, icy mountain passes, and record-breaking snowfall this year (think: 48 feet of snow burying the trail). As I begin physical training, finalizing gear, and crafting resupply boxes, I keep coming back to one question…

How do I prepare to take this challenge head-on and stay motivated through the hard steps, miles, and days?

Mental preparation has become a priority in my pre-PCT journey. Prior to stepping onto the trail in May, my goal is to accept helpful advice, mindsets, and tactics from others. I am sharing the books, podcasts, and ted talks that I found helpful to: 

  1. Get inspired from others
  2. Find my motivation for the (very) long haul
  3. Process fear in a productive way
  4. Be curious about my mental health journey
  5. Educate myself on thru hiking and the PCT

I hope these resources can help inspire your next adventure whether it is setting a hiking goal, training for a race, or committing to a big dream!

When You Need Inspiration…

Modern Wisdom Podcast
#509 – Colin O’Brady – The Man Who Walked Across Antarctica 

Colin O’Brady provides his perspective on embracing discomfort to live a life outside of the zone of comfortable complacency that traps many people. O’Brady essentially tells us to “wake up” and chase after an extraordinary life, embracing the highs and lows tied up into achieving our peak ’10’ moments. 

Rachel’s POV: Whenever I feel out of my depth while pursuing a big goal, I listen to this podcast episode (yes, it is downloaded and ready for on trail support). I have adopted the mindset that achieving big ’10’ goals is worth the potential low ‘1’ moments along the way (Hiker Translation: the uphill struggle is worth the view – or the burger in town). An uphill struggle sounds a lot better to me than living within my comfort zone. 

For more Inspiration, check out Colin O’Brady’s Book, The Impossible First: From Fire to Ice – Crossing Antarctica Alone and a Mel Robbins Podcast Episode, Your Dreams Are Not A Joke: It’s Time to Dream Big Again & 3 Ways to Get Started.

When You Need a Motivation Hack…

The Mel Robbins Podcast
Motivation is Garbage 

Mel Robbins believes that you “can’t sit around and wait for motivation to strike.” Robbins gives away her secret to taking action despite feeling unmotivated, especially in uncomfortable or intimidating circumstances. She outlines her actionable 5-second rule to take action and achieve goals one decision at a time.

Rachel’s POV: I have already used the 5-second rule to get out of bed to work out, to run unexciting errands, and to press purchase on expensive PCT gear (nervous laugh). It is honestly a relief to not expect a wave of motivation to hit, and to take action anyway.  

For more Motivation, check out David Goggin’s Books, Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds and Never Finished: Unshackle Your Mind and Win the War Within.  

When You Need to Manage your Fear…

Re: Thinking with Adam Grant Podcast
How Free Solo Climber Alex Honnold Faces Fear 

Alex Honnold walks through his approach to recognizing and processing fear in a similar way to responding to hunger cues. Alex sheds light on how he regulates emotions in life or death situations and even approaches the topic of how to process life after achieving a big goal.

Rachel’s POV: As my PCT start date gets closer, I am trying to befriend fear. I know that learning to welcome and rationalize my fears through research and preparation (not Type A at all…) is going to get me to that Canadian border this fall.

For more Perspectives on Fear, check out a Ted Talk from Tim Ferriss on Why you Should Define your Fears Instead of your Goals.

When You Want to Embrace Your Mental Health Journey…

Book By Michael Easter
The Comfort Crisis: Embrace Discomfort to Reclaim Your Wild, Happy, Healthy Self 

Michael Easter provides insight on the link between doing hard things and improved mental health. He explains that a “Misogi”, or an extreme challenge, can enhance lives and purify the mind, body, and spirit. Easter’s research and personal stories prove the power of a reboot through activities that make us happy and alive like connection, being in the natural world, effort, and perseverance. 

Rachel’s POV: Learning that a combination of nature and “doing hard shit” can enhance your life really resonated with me. The moments that I have experienced the most personal growth have been at these crossroads. I downloaded the research citations from this book because I was so fascinated, and I am excited to dig into some of the studies more!

For More Conversations on Mental Health, Check out Colin O’Brady’s Book The 12 Hour Walk: Invest One Day, Conquer Your Mind, and Unlock Your Best Life and a Ted Talk from Tara Prescott, Hike your own hike.

When You Need To Prepare to Hike the Pacific Crest Trail!…

Book By Daniel Winsor
Crunch: A Million Snowy Steps along the Pacific Crest Trail 

Daniel Winsor describes his lust after the snowy Sierra, a dream which mother nature made very possible (and challenging) with the record breaking 2017 snow fall. Winsor, or “Beta”, recounts his experience trekking through the snowy Sierra as a part of his PCT journey. Daniel describes sleeping in below freezing temperatures, foot injuries, high stream crossings, using crampons and snowshoes on high angle slopes, and more.

Rachel’s POV: As my PCT start date approaches, I have had more and more mixed feeling about the snowy Sierras waiting for my arrival. Being able to envision the challenges that can arise in the Sierra through Daniel Winsor’s 2017 experience was powerful to me. Reading about the roadblocks he experienced while hiking through the “Sierra Cement” snow helped me understand more about what to expect and taught me ways that I can prepare for my own hike.


Book By Heather “Anish” Anderson
Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home 

In her book, Thirst, Heather “Anish” Anderson outlines her Pacific Crest Trail experience including her Fastest Known Time (FKT) attempt in a day-by-day trail log style. Anderson recounts her battles with dehydration, sleep deprivations, and animal encounters (think, mountain lions…) while hiking 40- and 50-mile days. She showcases the self-doubt she felt prior to her FKT attempt and provides insight on how she rallied and overcame the intense pain, fear, loneliness, and danger she faced on the trail.

Rachel’s POV: First of all – what a badass. I really appreciated the honest way that Heather Anderson described her vulnerabilities and self-doubt while pursuing such an extreme goal. I put down this book fully inspired by her resilience and intense dedication and perseverance throughout her hike.

For More PCT Content, check out the Backpacker Radio Episode #191 | Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail 2.0: High Snow Year Considerations, Gear Changes by Section, and More.

Now, here is where you can help me by sharing a book or podcast that inspires you – drop your recommendations in the comments! Happy Reading and Listening! 

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Comments 5

  • Tara : Mar 12th

    You inspire me every day and I’m so proud of you! Excited to follow along on the incredible journey of yours ❤️

  • Kathleen Sable : Mar 12th

    I know I am the mom, but I love everything about this!

  • Steven Foste : Mar 13th

    In addition to motivation I learned over my 69 years to add in determination,persistence and dependability for when the motivation doesn’t show up on the 1 lows

    Good luck girl.

  • Jeanne Ferguson : Mar 13th

    Being Rachel’s grandmother has always been a gift in so many ways. She continues to demonstrate that accomplishments can happen. Being able to stay in touch with her and follow the maps that she has given to the family will help us all learn from her determination.

  • Jackie Berger : Mar 13th

    I am in awe of your enthusiasm, courage and stamina!!! Rachel, this is the adventure of a lifetime!! Be safe and keep writing!! Love this blog and all the references. You are amazing!


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