Reconnection: Mother & Daughters Hike

Hi, I’m Audrey and I start my PCT hike in a few days.

I am taking this long walk with my mom (70 years old and strong!) and my little sister (37 and still can’t catch me in a sprint).  My little sister can kick my ass in other ways (don’t tell her that), but she has to catch me first!

A little about me…

The most important themes in my life are learning, my family, I love problem-solving, and helping people.  I’m also competitive, and one of the things I will focus on during the hike is to enjoy the everyday experience and not get caught up on a thru-hike or hitting daily mile goals, which is my tendency and also makes me unhappy.  Remind me: it’s the journey, it’s the journey, it’s the journey.

I consider myself an outdoor person, but most of my outdoor experience is in the rearview mirror – 15 years in the rear-view!  Since then, I’ve mostly focused on work: making it in the rat race and building a business with my husband.  It’s all been a great (and challenging) experience, but I find myself being called by the outdoors, and the PCT is the perfect prescription to cure “boring middle age over-work-itis.”

Also, I won’t be caught dead car camping… if I’m in a car, that means I’m near enough to civilization for a shower and mattress.  But I’ll camp in the backcountry, no problem!  A girl has standards, after all.

I feel like I’ve both over and under prepped for this trip:

Gear: Overprepared.  I’ve got a spreadsheet dedicated to each piece of gear.  You want to talk tents?  I’ve got a list of 15 that I reviewed for the hike.  Same for sleeping bags, jackets, etc. I also learned the difference between pack weight and skin out weight.  Skin out weight is the combined weight of all the things you are taking on your hike, including things you wear (shoes, clothes, hat, etc.), things you carry (trekking poles), and your pack plus everything in it.  Skin out weight is a good measure because is easier to define, less gray area since it includes everything!  I’m starting with 22 lbs skin out weight + an estimated 10 lbs food/water for five days.  I won’t carry all this gear at once, some items are location/weather dependent (spikes, ice axe, bear can, etc.)

It sounds like most hikers drop gear as they go, so I’ve opted to start with the minimum, but I’m sure I’ll learn as I go and drop some gear along the way too.  It’s amazing what you think is necessary, until you have to lug it around on your back.  We’ll see, best laid plans and all…  My only overindulgence is a selfie stick, but is that really a splurge when making memories with mom and sis?

Now, I must tell on myself; I didn’t do very many gear shakeouts, mostly just wore stuff on my day hikes, and some things not even there (haven’t worn my pants on a hike yet, yikes!).  I think I have enough outdoor experience for this not to bite me in the butt, but we’ll see, I’ll fess up if I run into problems.  I’m not trying to inspire anybody to skip a through gear shakeout, I tried what I thought was most important, like pack, shoes and socks.  And weirdly, underwear, you really don’t want those riding up!

Food: Overprepared.  Some hikers say they don’t plan much and just restock along the way.  As a group we have extensive food allergies, so we are shipping most of our food in during the hike, plus we’ll supplement on the way.  If we put a little extra effort in here, then we will feel better to have fewer down days due to digestive distress and eat things we like.  Yum!  I did a little guess work on exactly what to bring for the first five days, but we’ll iron out the details as we go.  Plus, out appetites will change as we adapt to the higher activity level.

Food Shelf for Resupply

Sister took the gold metal on food prep (she has he most allergies), she bought a freeze dryer and literally made and vacuum packed all her meals.  I may be jealous of what she is eating.  If enough of us hikers are jealous, maybe she will have a business model at the end.

Fitness: Underprepared.  This is where I slacked.  Mom has been hiking and training, go Mom!  But version 2.0 (me and sis) have been slightly less disciplined.  Maybe I’m overconfident…I’ve run a few marathons, hiked a 24-hour navigation race, rode my bike coast to coast across the USA, etc.  So, I know how to train, understand pacing, how the body feels under stress, and what is normal v. not.  But I don’t have as much of a fitness base – most of this is ten years ago.  In any case, when you run a marathon, you train for four-plus months because you only get a few hours to perform.  The PCT is the opposite, you have months of “the event,” so my theory is that I’ll be doing a lot of training on the trail.  I did start to walk/hike with my pack two to three days a week, and my longest training hike was 14 miles.

Unfortunately, I haven’t done any training hikes in the last three weeks because I tore something deep in my hip at yoga, and it’s stubbornly not healing, so I’ll be starting with an injured hip.  Dang it!  At this point healing and rest seemed the best course of action, so I’ve hardly been walking, let along hiking with the pack.  I’ll pay for this down time on the trail in other ways, but hopefully my hip will be in better shape come trail time.

Safety: Prepared. Sister and I took a Wilderness First Responder class and are now WFR certified.  I’ve always wanted to do this, and the PCT was a perfect excuse to get certified.  I hope we don’t need to use the skills, but I’m glad to be a bit better prepared, and maybe we can help some people on the trial (ideally, this training goes to waste).  Mom took Wilderness First Aid.

One of the most important things I learned in WFR is: if in doubt, press the SOS button!  It’s OK to cancel the call, but a wilderness rescue can take hours (or days if the weather is uncooperative).  It’s best to let people know what’s happening, and get help activated.  I also learned that nearly all wilderness rescuers are volunteers.  Talk about faith in humanity – these people inspire me!  There are no ambulances in the backcountry, and it can take an hour to assemble a team before they even take a single step toward you, so help is likely several hours away.

A little more on the group:

Mom: my mom is 70 and retired just a week before the hike.  Or rather, the hike was a good excuse to retire.

Sister: she is a software engineer and quit her job to hike.  But I think they like her because they said she can come back after.  It’s tough to quit a sure thing that pays the bills and puts food on the table, so I give her credit for taking the leap.

Me: I’m 42, my husband and I run a small business, f-stop, were we make camera bags for adventure photography.  Our team has stepped up to give me time away.  I’m so grateful for their support, love, and kindness; I literally couldn’t do this if they didn’t step up to support me.  I do feel a bit guilty leaving them behind to do the work, but mostly incredibly grateful.  Also, shameless plug, mom and I will begin the hike with an f-stop pack, the Tilopa 50 liter, plus we are designing a thru-hiker specific pack that we’ll be switching to once its ready. More on that later.


I’ll write again from the trail and we’ll see how theory translates to reality.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 8

  • Mihka’el Caron : Apr 11th

    I just wanted to reach out and let you know that your content has been quite helpful for me.

    My friends from Allthingsaustria recommended your site and I’ve not been disappointed at all 🙂

    Mihkael Caron

    • Audrey : Apr 24th

      I’m just a blogger so can’t take credit for the site, but so glad you found it. Hope my blog can be of some use too. Happy trails.

  • Christa Shackleford : Apr 12th

    There is still a lot of snow around.
    Good luck

    • Audrey : Apr 24th

      Thanks for the heads up. Keeping a close eye on trail conditions. 😃

  • Jeff Greene : Apr 14th

    Good luck! As a SoCal day hiker/car camper/occasional weekend backpacker, I look forward to following the journey!

    • Audrey : Apr 24th

      Jeff, thanks! It’s beautiful, you are lucky to live in SoCal. I look forward to more miles, it’s far exceeded my expectations so far.

  • Peggy : May 7th

    Hello, Audrey! And Mom and Sis!

    62 year old Mom here, dreaming of hiking the PCT with my daughter some day! I’m glad I found your blog…I’m rooting for you all! Thanks for taking the time and effort to post. And major props to your Mom for her can-do spirit…please tell her she’s an inspiration!

    • Audrey : May 10th

      Hello Peggy, thanks for the encouragement. I’ll pass along your kind words to my Mom. Thanks, and hope to see you on the trail soon!


What Do You Think?