Onward (Adverb): “In a Continuing Forward Direction; Ahead”

It really is the only way, isn’t it?

I took my first steps on the PCT in 2015, backpacking through Cispus Pass in Washington (see my header photo). The seed was planted, but back then I had no confidence whatsoever that I was someone who would do a thru-hike.

My mental game was weak, I was chasing an unattainable, skinny body, I couldn’t leave my then-partner, and I just flat out didn’t think I could do it. Every reason and excuse has played in my head on repeat since. Nevertheless, it’s a dream I’ve held onto.

I’ve struggled with severe anxiety and depression for most of my life. Day-to-day existence can be tough, let alone going through big life changes.  But the last few years have brought lots of that. Aside from the pandemic (which is an obvious biggie for everyone), I’ve had my heart broken more than once, I drove around the US living in Airbnbs for a year, I “retired” from a 10-year career with no idea what I’m going to do next, and I don’t know where I’ll be living post-trail. For all intents and purposes, I am lost. But by walking onward on the PCT toward this goal I once believed I could never pursue, I’m giving myself permission to be lost—in the hopes that I find myself along the way.

I’m attempting a PCT thru hike because:

  • I want to feel wild and free
  • I want to connect with new people exploring the unknown alongside me
  • I want to make discoveries – about myself, others, the world that I can’t even fathom today
  • I want to spend as much time in nature as possible while it’s still accessible
  • I want to be an advocate for our planet and savor and share its beauty
  • I want to inspire others to chase goals and trust in yourself

Whatever the outcome, it’s going to be one hell of a time. I can’t wait for the journey to begin!

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Comments 2

  • Onward! : Jan 6th

    Hey Brenna,

    Onward! Is my trail name. Fellow hikers noticed that I tended to say “Onward!” and point to the north whenever I set out to hike from camp or from a rest break. I was hardly even aware that I was doing it, but they noticed and bestowed the word on me as my nom-de-trail.

    With “onward” as your guiding principle, I’m sure you’ll go far. 🙂

    – Onward! (PCT LASH in 22 and going back to finish in 23)

    • Brenna : Jan 7th

      Onward! That’s amazing, thanks for sharing! I’ve been seeing this word pop up a lot recently on socials and out in the world as my sign from the universe that I’m moving in the right direction. Hope to meet you on trail this year, best of luck!


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