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