The Power of Harry Potter, Naps and Nutella

Miles walked: 454

Audio: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, half of Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireThe Lightning Strike (What If This Storm Ends) by Snow Patrol (I’m obsessed!).

The Need for More Mileage

Boy, I’m wayyyyy behind on my mileage. At this point, I scheduled for myself to be already about 75 miles into the Sierra, and I’m 246 miles away. I need to get back for my next semester of college before Sept. 1, so now I’m really crunched for time. I’m going to need to absolutely speed through Northern California, Oregon, and Washington, and though I still want to have tons of life experiences and meet new people, I also really need to get to Canada. I’m going to have to pump out consistent 15-mile days in the Sierra, 22-mile days in Northern California, 35-mile days in Oregon, and 32-mile days in Washington if I even want a chance at making it to Canada before the next semester starts. Thus, I need to go faster. And since I don’t have a rocket booster or even Heelys, I’ll have to start walking faster. And so I’ve found some foolproof ways to get more miles in each day, and here they are. (Disclaimer: These will not work for everybody, but I am a nerd who needs tons of sleep and sugar, so this is how I’ve been going faster and longer in the past weeks.)

I would love to just relax here like Jude and Lumberjack. But I’ve got to start booking it in order to make it in time!

My resupply. I need lots of sugar to go lots of miles.

Harry Potter

Nobody can deny the sheer genius of Harry Potter. Each character is so developed and complex; each plot line is so varied and intense. Harry Potter is literary gold. Thanks to my sister Sage for all seven audiobooks <3 <3 <3 So this is how each of my days go. I wake up, incredibly sore and tired. I pee if I need to, then eat a Nutella bagel (more on that later). I do some quick stretches and get into my ridiculous desert garb. I walk for about two miles and realize how little motivation I have. I try to listen to some pump-up music, and find myself frustrated beyond belief that I know the order of both my 30-plus hour Spotify playlists. (Let me tell you: I am not an angry person, not at all, but this trail is really rubbing me raw in more ways than one. My infinite patience has snapped a few times, and though I don’t let my anger out, it simmers inside and then comes out in phone conversations with my mom or blog posts like this. I am truly sorry: you are seeing the very worst side of me. I promise, I’m not a negative person!) After I have an existential crisis, a bathroom break, and a snack, I’m off to walking again, this time with the genius of JK Rowling in my ears. Suddenly, it’s nap time. I nap for one to two hours, eat some tuna and cheese, sigh heavily, then put Harry Potter back on and literally forget that I’m on an insane mission to walk from Mexico to Canada. I eat dinner, go to bed, and wake up to do the whole thing over again. I honestly have no idea what I’m going to do when I’ve finished the series in a week or two. I’ll probably just listen to it again!

Walking up to Hogwarts school. Almost.

OK, lemme tell you a quick story. After climbing to the top of Baden-Powell, I got separated from my trail family because of a desperate need to pass a bowel movement. I literally could not get off the trail fast enough, and I peed my pants. I’m 19, and I peed my pants. So I was sitting right next to the trail, with sagebrush on one side and desert sand on the other, and hikers were coming and calling hello to me. I couldn’t pull up my pants, because they had pee in them, so I scooted as far into the sagebrush as I could and hoped they wouldn’t notice that I was wearing no pants. I grabbed a bagel and pretended to be eating dinner enjoying the sunset. I hope it worked. I changed pants, put away my pseudo-dinner, and headed off,  listening to The Prisoner of Azkaban. It was getting dark by now, and I was feeling mighty ready to set up camp, but I had another fiveish miles to where my trail family had predetermined to set up camp. I somehow wandered off trail into a pretty thick forest, and filtered water in the pitch black as my headlamp informed me that it was out of batteries. As I tried to find the trail again, the dementors entered the train, and I tripped over a tree root in my haste to get out of the darkness. The dementors’ hand reached out, all scabby and clammy, and I suddenly realized that I was all alone in the middle of the night, completely lost and exhausted, listening to the stuff of nightmares. I accidentally slid down a hill and landed on a PCT switchback. I immediately changed my audio to Disney. No more walking around thinking about dementors for me! So maybe Harry Potter is not always the best motivator, but it seems to work pretty well during the day.

Yeah, fight me, dementors. I’ve got two headlamps when I’m with my trail family and a wild head of hair to scare even the most stoic of wizards.

On top of the mountain. On top of the world.

The more Harry Potter I listen to (but not alone and at night), the faster and farther I go. Harry is about to make some startling realization about himself, and I realize that I’ve been walking 3.5 to 4 miles per hour. Uphill. I’m flying! I love it.


I thought that I could not ever put my love for Nutella into words, but I now I think I’ve seen behind the curtain. While there is nothing that rivals the creamy beauty of Nutella, feeling ill every time one walks up a hill is enough to make one reconsider their decision to eat four tablespoons of the sugary concoction for breakfast every morning and with every snack. Over the course of the past week, I’ve eaten more than 6,000 calories of Nutella. Pure Nutella. That’s not even counting the calories of the bagels I put the Nutella on or anything!

Despite feeling ill every time the ground slopes upward, Nutella is quite the motivating factor in increasing daily mileage. When I’m shivering in my sleeping bag, unwilling to face the 21-plus mile day ahead of me, I can always count on my Nutella (which I keep at the bottom of my sleeping bag so it doesn’t freeze) to be there and start the day with a glimmer of happiness and joy. After an incredibly long day, I can also always count on my Nutella to be there and tide me over as I’m waiting for my dinner to cook. I eat Nutella on a bagel, with a spoon, at the top of a mountain, with a spoon, after a pee, with a spoon, when I see new people, with a spoon… you get the point. Lots of Nutella, at all hours, at all occasions. The more I eat Nutella, the more miles I get (and the sicker I feel).

There was one day where I needed to do three miles in an hour in order to get pizza at a campsite. I ate two huge spoons of Nutella and booked three miles in 52 minutes to get my pizza. So Nutella works.

Nutella (and a cookie) on the top of Mt. Williamson after a two-hour nap.

Nutella (with a strawberry) on a weed farm for a zero day.

Nutella (on a berry bagel) after a dehydrated day in the blazing Mojave heat.

An empty Nutella jar after a misty night with trains and cars whizzing by.


Well, I don’t think that anything in the world can compare to napping in terms of a motivational booster. I mean, I’ve just walked 12 miles in the heat of the day, and I collapse at a ranger’s station and am snoozing for at least an hour and a half. I wake up, massage my feet, and can hike for another 11 or 12 miles, no problem. If I tried to go 21-plus miles straight, I’d either break a leg or fall asleep walking. When I nap, it feels like it’s a new day. I am no longer cranky, in intense pain, or sad. No matter how many miles I get in a day, splitting it up with a nap makes everything better. I’ll continue to nap for as long as I can, whenever I can, to keep my body and mind healthy, cause boy does it work! I can’t believe I used to hate naps.

A perfect (and very dangerous) spot to nap; Valquez Rocks.

I Got a Trail Name

Probably the most exciting part of this blog post is the revelation of my trail name. If you didn’t already know, everybody on the PCT gets a trail name that somehow describes who they are as a hiker. One guy split his bright yellow shorts, so his trail name was Banana Split. One of the guys I’m hiking with is allergic to nuts, so his name is No Nuts. One of the girls I’m hiking with has a yellow rain jacket and a red hat, so her name is Paddington.

According to my trail family, whenever they turn around I’m gone. I’ll hike into camp at odd hours of the night with no headlamp, accidentally scaring them. They say I’m like a ghost, and so the first part of my name is Spooky. Secondly, they say that I’m a very positive and happy person, always greeting people and making people smile, so just like a ray of sunshine, the second part of my name is Ray.

Thus, my trail name now and forever will be Spooky Ray.

This tunnel I had to walk through sure was spooky.

And so are these rocks.

Some Notable Numbers

Well, well, well. This week I’ve now rolled my ankles a combined 60 times; I took a seven-hour nap, then slept that night for a full eight hours; I got clotheslined by trees four times; I seriously considered quitting the trail two times; I saw about 45,682 ants (that’s an exact count); walked 29 miles one day and 28 miles the day after that; consumed two large tubs of Nutella; and counted 15 mosquito bites on my right ankle.

Food from a trail angel. Heck. Yes.

P.S. The featured image is Jude, Firecracker, Lumberjack, and me trying to hitchhike. We were (obviously) unsuccessful.


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Comments 1

  • George Turner : Jun 2nd

    If you can listen to the Battle of Hogwarts while hiking and not bawl, you are a dementor! I listen to them when I hike too. Game of Thrones is good too!


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