My Name Is Emily, and I Am a Closet Hiker Trash

Coming Out

I find myself envious of those who are able to post screenshots of their permit approvals on their social media accounts. As of now this is my only outlet to share the excitement I have to begin the journey of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with my husband. Many of our close friends and family members are aware of our plans. Some have shared happiness and elation, others have expressed concern and unease (rightfully so). But I’m not able to shout from the rooftops about what our next chapter in life will look like. We have too many people that follow us on social media from work, which means we have to keep things under wraps until February. 

Always wear sunscreen, folks.

From City Girl to Hiker Trash

A little bit about myself. My name is Emily. I have no trail name yet; this will be my first thru-hike. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and my only exposure to the great outdoors was a state park about an hour from my house with a few hiking trails and then there was our annual summer vacation to a little cabin in the middle of the Wisconsin Northwoods. It was here where I discovered my longing for the wild. When I graduated high school, I knew I wanted a big change so I decided to enroll in a small private college located in the middle of nowhere, Arkansas, where I ended up meeting my husband, Parkes. All we had in town was basically a Walmart and Chili’s, so much of our time was spent entertaining ourselves outside. 

We were never the type to go on “traditional” dates. Our first date was spent climbing on top of rooftops and looking at the stars. We spent the next four years of college watching sunsets, playing football in empty parking lots, making out in hammocks, and falling in love. As soon as we graduated, we got married and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. 

Smiles before miles.

Time for a Change

Flash forward to current day, five years later. I work as an event director in the admissions department at a university where I also manage 60 college students, and I absolutely love my job. Parkes works as a contract analyst for a health care company in a cramped cubicle from 9-5. We use every bit of our vacation days to travel in either our camper van or by backpacking.  We come back to work telling stories of our harrowing experiences, bear encounters, mountain ascents, and more. Most think we are crazy for choosing to use our vacation days “suffering” instead of spending it more wisely at an all-inclusive resort.

About a year ago, while driving back to Nashville from one of our many weekend excursions, Parkes and I found ourselves discussing our hopes and dreams for the future. They did not include having kids, buying a bigger house, or getting a promotion. We spoke about our shared desire of taking a year off to travel in our van. But to me, that didn’t sound as rewarding. I wanted to experience something so extraordinary that it would forever shape me. So I told him, “I want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.” He was silent for a while. I could tell he was pondering the idea, playing through different scenarios in his head. At last, he broke the silence and said, “Well, I’m coming too. Let’s do it.” I knew this wasn’t just talk; we absolutely meant it. And when we say we are going to do something, we follow through 100%. 

Merry Christmas from the Carpenters.

T-Minus 142 Days

This past year, we have been meticulously planning. Finances, resupply strategies, gear research (more on this later). Everything is starting to align. Last week we signed up for our PCT permits, sold the house, and bought our last jug of dish detergent that we will need for quite some time. Our dream has become reality and the end of this era is in sight. In 142 days, on March 30, the adventure of a lifetime will begin at the Southern Terminus. Our next chapter in life, full of so many unknowns, is upon us. And together, we are ready. 

My role model and best friend.


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Comments 13

  • Shannon : Nov 11th

    See you on trail! I leave right before you!

    • Emily and Parkes : Nov 11th

      YES! Can’t wait to meet you!

  • Johnny Raysor : Nov 12th

    You two are so freaking awesome with your outlook on life, and such an inspiration. You ate so right, there is so much more to life than the typical 9 to 5 and a house with a white picket fence.

    • Emily and Parkes : Nov 12th

      I love the saying “some people are so poor, all they have is money”. It’s so true! People often measure the amount of “success” you have based on your income, the square footage of your house, what model car you have, how high up you are in your company. I so badly want to reshape the way people define what a “successful” person looks like. Thank you so much for the encouraging words!

  • Cat Morton : Nov 12th

    This is so sweet! I love it. Hope to see you out there, I leave end of March. (From the U.K..!)

    • Emily and Parkes : Nov 12th

      March 30th, see you out there friend!

  • Kevin Neft : Nov 18th

    Break the mold! Life is what we make it, and damn it lets make it a good one! Thriving off going against the societal norm.

    • Emily and Parkes : Nov 18th


  • Yermo : Nov 21st

    When it comes to attitude and philosophy (life and hiking), y’all really remind me in more than a few ways of Jupiter, jupiterhikes. Please take that as a high compliment.
    Looking forward to following y’alls hike and adventures. BTW, Emily and Parkes — your postings are written so very well.

    • Emily and Parkes : Nov 21st

      Wow, this is such a compliment. My confidence is beaming! Thank you for making my day!!!

  • anna91 : Nov 27th

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    • Emily and Parkes : Nov 27th

      Thank you friend!


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