My Why


“2,600 miles?! Girl, are you crazy?!” my boss exclaims as he barges into my office. I broke the news to him the evening before through tear-filled eyes that I would be leaving my job to pursue my dream of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Initially, he could only process the fact that I was quitting but I’m sure it wasn’t until later when I’m sure I became a topic at dinner with his family when the gears started turning. He decided to look into what the PCT entails, hence why he barged into my office in a tizzy.

“I’m happy you are pursing your dream, but can you please explain to me why?” Oof. What a loaded question. How do I answer this? Not many would understand why I would be willing to walk away from my job in order to hike from Mexico to Canada for six months. I searched for the words to accurately describe why I would pursue something so extraordinary, so unheard of. At last I uttered, “Because I want to live.”


I have put a tremendous amount of thought into my why. Why we have decided to sell the house, why I chose to abandon a job that I truly love, why we are leaving a community that has been home for the past five years, why I am sacrificing so much to pursue something so abnormal. Here is my why.

To be my own inspiration

For so long, I have read other peoples stories, been moved by others’ courage and bravery. I was tired of being inspired by others, and it was time that I look at myself as one who is inspiring. I want to be my own hero.

To walk with God and get to know him on a deeper level

For my entire life, I grew up going to church. I am thankful for my upbringing and the people who have impacted me and contributed to the young woman I am today. It has instilled in me a kindness and compassion that I am proud of, but as an adult, I have struggled tremendously with finding my own faith. I have so many unanswered questions, and I want to use this time to reflect and discover for myself. To make my faith my own.

To discover who I am

I want to get to know myself on the deepest level, I want to know the “me” that I never knew existed. The best part of this journey here is further getting to know yourself. The trail is spiritual; it will boil you down to your truest essence.

To be impactful and be impacted

I want to touch lives to those around me and to be impacted by others, hikers and trail angels alike!

To truly live, and appreciate every aspect of life

I want to be fully present in this one life I get to live. We are here for a fleeting moment and then we are gone. The anxiety, the drama, it all means nothing in the grand scheme of things. In the end, it all comes down to love. That’s the only legacy we leave behind, and it ripples throughout eternity.

I want to represent my lady friends, to show the world how strong a woman can be

Because Uncle Dicky says I can’t. I’m going to prove him wrong. Very wrong indeed.

I want to challenge myself, have an experience that will shape me for the rest of my life

Because we all need crazy stories to tell our grandkids someday. Right?

To walk for my classmates who can’t

We want to hike for more than just ourselves. In honor of the people who have impacted our lives the most and made us realize what truly matters in life, we are raising money for the Botham Jean Foundation in honor of Botham and all of our other classmates we have lost too soon that were a part of our Harding University family. We will also hike for the Brain Trauma Foundation in honor of our real life superheroes, Hayley and Harrison Waldron. They have impacted us in more ways then they know; more on these special people later.

To prove that I am in control of my future and happiness

Anything is possible. Standing at the foot of the Southern Terminus will be a success story in itself.

To redefine success

Some people are so poor, all they have is money.

To connect deeply with the world God created in its rawest form. Untouched and wild

When it’s just you, the creator, and creation, you can’t get more real then that.

Strengthen my marriage

Parkes is my biggest blessing in life. His mind is beautiful, his thoughts are wild and full of passion. His drive to truly live is admiring. It’s always a bonus when you get to marry your role model and I want this journey to bring our marriage to new heights that would have never been possible without hiking 2,562 miles together.

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Comments 14

  • Kate the not so great : Feb 17th

    Thank you so much for writing this article, it puts into words exactly why I want to hike the trail, I’m so tired of success being defined in such limiting ways and it’s restricting my love and life’s journey.
    You’re an inspiration to me, much love!

    • Emily and Parkes : Feb 17th

      Thank you so much for the support!

      • Cheyenne : Feb 29th

        Hey you two! I stumbled upon “the trek” site and seen you two were going at it together….AWESOME!! Hey, I’d like to follow you cuz you had me “The Creators Creation” !! Hahaaa
        Cheyenne in NW Montana USA
        (born n raised in Ridgecrest Ca. ) Walkers Pass, Kennedy Meadows, ALL the Eastern Siearras was my 30 year long back yard and all when it was at the killer time in life!
        PS, do yunz have a you tube channel???

  • Joe, aka Eco-Warrior : Feb 17th

    You guys are VERY inspiring and I want you to know YOU CAN DO IT! At 78 yrs old, I have hiked and backpacked approx 5,000 miles since I started in my late 20’s including 1,750 miles of the AT, parts of the CDT in Wyoming (twice), trails in 7 other states including Alaska, and hope to do more. Emily, I really liked the reasons “why” especially the one on redefining “success”!! Be safe and take care of each other!

    • Emily and Parkes : Feb 18th

      You’re doing life right, thank you for being an inspiration!

  • Just Bob : Feb 17th

    Tell Uncle Dicky, Bob said he is wrong !!!!!!!!!! LOL!!!!!

    Great story. Thanks for posting and look forward to the conclusion photos and story’s. Go with God !

    • Emily and Parkes : Feb 18th

      Uncle Dicky bet me $1000 that I won’t make it. I look forward to being that much richer.

  • Deana 'Crybaby' R. : Feb 18th

    Wow! Thank you. My reasons or I should say my “why’s” are so similar to yours that I thought you were me! Lol. Very inspiring. Quitting your job and making all those life changes is scary but I think that if we know exactly why we are doing it, it all falls into place. We get something out of it that leaves us with a feeling of accomplishment.
    Complete. That’s what I’m shooting for. Best of luck and thank you again!

    • Emily and Parkes : Feb 18th

      Ahh thank you so much! I definitely have good days where I already feel very inspired by myself, for all the sacrifices we are making to follow our dream. But then there are bad days where I am overcome with so much anxiety because there are not a lot of people who are living life the way we are. It’s fun to break the mold at times, but its very scary but I know only good things will come from this. Thank you for your encouraging words!

  • Allondra28 : Feb 18th

    Are you going to vlog your travels? Would love to watch your story! Love your why!

    • Emily and Parkes : Feb 18th

      Yes we are! We are vlogging through the Trek 🙂

  • Allison Gonzalez : Feb 19th

    I’m so glad I clicked on your post. I just decided today to do my first hike thru – the AZT. I’m terrified. I’m 48. I have about 20 days to prep. Did I mention I’m TERRIFIED?! But my heart is just driving me out there. I need this. Like you, I find God outside, He walks with me. I feel outside is where I truly connect with Him.

    I’ll be sure to check out the YT channel for your updates!


    • Emily and Parkes : Feb 19th

      You go girl!!! So proud of you. I am elated but equally terrified as well. As the time gets closer, it feels so real and there are days where I am completely overwhelmed. But SO SO excited and truly blessed that this is even a possibility.

  • Ken Bosket : Apr 23rd

    I am truly moved by your words and story. Today, I saw the most recent post on Trek, and then read your other posts. You obviously have a story to share…both for yourself, and others. Thank you. I look forward to hearing of your journeys as you continue to learn and share. PS…you’re right, the link to your friends with the brain injury will change you.


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