Would You Give Up Everything… For a Hike?

In a few short months, I’m leaving behind a life that I love.

I’m leaving behind a thriving career, amazing friends, and the best community I’ve ever had. 

I’m leaving a job that I adore, a happy home, climbing partners and best friends. 

I’m leaving behind more beloved people and places than I can count as I embark on the Pacific Crest Trail.

This isn’t the first time I’ll be letting go of what I love in pursuit of something bigger than me.

I have lived not just one life, but many- and I have left every single one of them to find myself a little more.

When I was 16, I left home to spend my junior year as an exchange student in Germany. I lived with a host family, explored the European countryside, and desperately tried to pass physics exams in German.

At 19, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career I’d been working in professionally since middle school. I quickly signed with an agent and a manager, and found myself performing in the best productions of my life. 

Eventually, fate brought me to Gjusta Bakery, a celebrated restaurant in West LA. My life spun 180 degrees and I left my lifelong acting career for my true calling- cooking and baking. My pastry shifts began before dawn and I stayed into the evenings to apprentice with the head chef. I spent free time at the beach, biking to the Farmer’s Market, and hiking in the dusty mountains. I lived my own little California dream.

When I was 21, I left that dream for a pastry position at Flora Bar, an upscale Manhattan restaurant run by a Michelin Star chef and frequented by the NYC elite. It was another dream come true…  for a minute and a half.

Out of nowhere, the pandemic hit, Flora Bar closed, and I left New York for more space. I took a summer cooking job in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. Every waking minute was spent kayaking on glacial lakes, hiking in pine forests, and night swimming under countless stars.

As the short Minnesota summer ended, I moved to Nashville for a fresh start. I got my footing in the world of private cheffing, cooking for NFL players and country music stars. I made lifelong friends working in two different restaurants. I spent countless weekends climbing world-class rock and backpacking in the mountains. Tennessee was home.

Throughout all of these lives, I’ve “found myself” at least a dozen times. I’ve had more quarter life crises than I can remember. I’ve left every life behind in search of more.

Despite every change I’ve made, there has been one place where I have found my true self in every single life:

Outside. Among the trees, on top of mountains, in the silence of snowy fields and desert landscapes. 

I’ve felt this way ever since I was a child, canoeing the glacial lakes of northern Minnesota for the first time and falling asleep each night to the singing of the loons.

I’ve felt this way ever since my best friend Klaudia introduced me to backpacking in high school and told me about the Pacific Crest Trail, as we stargazed in the Iowa countryside;

ever since my first drive through the yellow aspens of Colorado, my first hike through the orange rock of Utah and my first winter season in the snowy northern pines;

ever since I stood on a mountain with Klaudia on the Tahoe Rim Trail, as I gazed at a stunning view of the Desolation Wilderness and began to cry. 

In that single moment of complete awe, seeing the snow-capped mountains we’d reach in a few days, I found myself once again.

I found myself, and I felt a conviction stronger than ever before: I belong here. Outside. I belong on the PCT. 

You might not know me personally, or understand my life. You might not understand why I’d want to leave everything behind to walk 2,650 miles.

But if you know the love of being outside, the love of wind through the trees, fresh mountain air and cold alpine water, you know me. 

If you know the love of waking up in a cold tent, of camp coffee and fields of wildflowers in full bloom, you know me.

If you know the love of quiet moments in the woods and awe-inspiring moments in the mountains that take your breath away, you know me.

If you love these things, if you belong in these places, you know me already- and I know you. 

We belong here. In every single life.

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Comments 22

  • Graham : Feb 24th

    Looking forward to seeing where you end up after this adventure. Good luck!

    • Derek Pierson Jones : Feb 28th

      Go Girl, Go.

      I resonated.
      Alpine meadows, solitude, snowstorm or sunlight.

      Go Girl, Go.
      Cloud Girl, Rain down
      and change, and change

      Again. You will pass
      me on the trail. My body
      heart and mind.

      Kindred spirits, unencumbered.
      There is power in starlight
      and solace in motion.

      • Grace Mumm : Mar 8th

        Beautiful, Derek. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing. We’re all kindred spirits out here.

  • Cindy : Feb 24th


  • Daryl : Feb 26th

    I know you and you know me.

  • Lizzy Treks : Feb 27th

    Sending you good vibes. What an amazing journey and experience.. can’t wait to read about it.

    • Grace Mumm : Mar 8th

      Thank you for all the vibes, Lizzy- keep sending them!

  • Sparkplug : Feb 27th

    I wish you the best of luck on your travels and adventures.

    I’m retired and have to start to make a decision whether want to thru hike the national scenic Florida trail or continue to section hike it. It’s a very hard decision! I do lot of volunteer work and I hate to give up those three or four months of helping people. I just met a thru hiker in Seminole state forest, who is hiking all of the national trails to raise awareness for trans people.

    • Grace Mumm : Mar 8th

      Thank you for the well wishes- sending them to you as well as you make that tough decision!

  • Alan Lau : Feb 27th

    Yup very very well said. Yogi once said, “They’ll ( meaning other people who don’t backpack) never understand. ” Too bad it’s getting a little crowded out there. Back in 2010 I was hiking The Muir Trail. I met a lone hiker who had entered thru the Mono Pass trail. He had brought 2 weeks of food, would fish for food every other day and would thus be backpacking for a month. He was going to exit via the Shepard Pass trail. He spent ss little time on the PCT as he could and would go off trail most of the time because the PCT “was like an interstate”. I didn’t get that then but I do now.

  • John Fin : Feb 27th

    Terrrific plan! Living by and hiking the PCT on weekends lends me a glimmer of your plans. Keep sharing photos and musings. We are cheering for you!

    • Grace Mumm : Mar 8th

      I appreciate your notes of encouragement so much, I need all the cheerleaders I can get! Happy trails and the best to you, John.

      • Michael R Cronrath : Mar 15th

        Great story Grace!
        Gruss Gott! (Bavarian for Go with God!)

        • Grace Mumm : Mar 23rd

          Vielen Dank, Michael! Deine Unterstützung bedeutet mir sehr!

  • Break Rock : Feb 28th

    I know you and I love you. Kindred spirit. Go be that truest, best self! You got this.

    • Grace Mumm : Mar 8th

      Thank you for your words of encouragement and support. They mean everything. We’re here to cheer each other on, kindred spirit!

  • Shelley : Feb 28th

    Ah…I want to go with. And so I shall, if only virtually. You have lived your chapters with passion. I realized I was doing that only after I looked back on them all. At 65 I can still make those treks I’ve been thinking about,… But it’s hard to tell what that next section will look like. Living in the moment!!

    • Grace Mumm : Mar 8th

      Shelley, that means so much to me. Keep making those treks- we’re in this together. Living in the moment 🙂

  • Hiker friend : Feb 28th

    I know the trail, I know you ?

    • Matthew Bushell : Mar 7th

      I have bike cross country three times, hiked the AT, and lived on three small sailboats. The wanderlust is a hard and beautiful life. Keep it up.

      • Grace Mumm : Mar 8th

        And you as well, my friend. Keep at it! It’s worth the difficulties.

  • Eric : Mar 15th

    Interested about your food plan for the pct… As cook sure you have some advises Do you prepare and lyophilized?
    Good luck cant wait to read more about your pct home


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