Am I Ready? Psst, I Better Be!

It’s been a year and a half of preparing for this 2,653-mile journey. One and a half years that have absolutely FLOWN by. I’ve gotten my permits, my passport, taken care of my bills, figured out my career, bought, tested, and re-bought gear, completed a couple of other hiking goals, panicked a little, and, finally, have gotten really excited for my upcoming trip. I can’t believe the time is almost here. My flight is booked and I am ready (I think) to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. My start date is March 6, 2020.

Dirt + Vert

In August 2018, I decided to leave my permanent job for a travel position. I work as a traveling surgical technologist now, where I get to travel around the country assisting surgeons at different hospitals. My very first assignment was in Palm Springs, California. I made the trek over to the desert from my deep Northeast roots. After my first few weeks in the 125 degree weather, I decided to look up some trails around the area. Missing the cold weather and the snow, I stumbled upon Idyllwild, California, and INSTANTLY fell in love. I loved everything about the Suicide Rock Trail. There were snow and dirt and views that brought tears to my eyes. I looked down at my smartwatch to see the elevation and I was surprised to see how high up I was! I had reached 8,000 feet! I needed more of this.

*Side Note* In New England, our terrain is gnarly and extremely hard to climb (as all you AT thru-hikers know) but we don’t see any elevation higher than Mount Washington, which sits at 6,288 feet.

After my hike, I started exploring some other hikes around California but something always drew me back to Idyllwild. Then I realized the PCT goes right through Idyllwild! Again, I needed more.

Changes, They Are (not) a Comin’

I was talking with one of the nurses (Kate) I worked with about my thru-hiking aspirations and found out she’s a Triple Crowner. We instantly bonded, naturally. We would talk gear, preparation, her AT experience, and how we both miss the White Mountains so much. At this point in my career, I was happy but I wanted a change. My assignment was coming to an end so I was considering becoming a medical device sales rep where, for all intents and purposes, my life would be my job. I went through many interviews and then Kate reminded me of one thing that I needed to hear: “Don’t give up your dreams.” She knew how much thru-hiking meant to me because she was also one of those aspiring thru-hikers at one point in her life. It was in that exact moment that I decided to definitely not give up on my thru-hiking dreams. I backed out of the career change and ended up taking an assignment up in Maine.

Preparation

I was back home! Boy, I was so happy to be back in the Northeast. I missed these mountains. I missed these trees. I missed these trails. And now, I can finish a goal I had set out to accomplish the summer (2018) before. My last hike in the Whites had been Jefferson and Adams before I left in August, putting me at 21/48 of the New Hampshire 48 4,000-footers. As I eased back into hiking the terrain out here, my heart fluttered in happiness. I was so happy to be back out in these woods, checking off my final 27 4,000-footers. Over the next six months (April-October), I would maybe get out to the Whites every couple months. I was exploring Portland for the most part over the summer and researching everything I could about the PCT. It wasn’t until I hit the first snowfall in the higher elevations when I got hooked. And I mean really hooked.

Then I found out about a Single Season Winter 48 (SSW48). I had to do it. A SSW48 is when you hike all the 48 4,000-footers in the White Mountains within the winter season (December 22-March 20). I started out at the end of December pretty strong, checking off seven peaks my first week. I was completely obsessed with completing my single season, I was going out every weekend and every day off from work (weather permitting) to try to cram it all in before my permit date. It was hard but it was awesome; you know, like that type two kind of fun. I also didn’t realize the shape it was getting me into. My legs are strong, I’ve lost about 25 pounds and my endurance is at an all-time high. I finished my SSW48 on February 15, 2020. Now? Time to prepare my resupply, pack up all my stuff, weigh out my pack, and start a new journey.

Am I ready? PSST, I BETTER BE!

I hope you follow along.

Peace, Stef

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Comments 5

  • Julie : Feb 23rd

    I’m looking forward to following your adventures.

    Reply
    • Stefanie Bolivar : Feb 25th

      Thank you so much Julie! 🙂 I’m excited too!!

      Reply
  • Karyn Cote : Feb 28th

    Wow Stef, I am so impressed with your preparation and determination, I once had a dream to hike the PCT but my knees limit me now, so go out and show us the world! -K from X-Ray

    Reply
    • Stefanie Bolivar : Feb 28th

      AHHHHH! Thank you so much! <3

      Reply

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