See Ya Later

When I chose to blog and post publicly about my journey on the Pacific Crest Trail, my biggest worry was the disappointment I would feel and others may feel if I got off trail. And though I’d hoped I had the gall to complete such a feat in one go, I’m here to tell you that I cannot – at least not right now. I got off trail in Tehachapi, hopped on a bus to Las Vegas, and my heart broke for the trail for the first time.

400 Measly Miles

The sadness and disappointment in myself is real right now as I battle with FOMO and a little shame. Everyone I’ve talked to who knows I left has nothing but kind words, yet, I’m having a hard time believing them. Before April 17, 2024, the day I set foot on the PCT, I had never in my life put on a backpack, walked into the wilderness, set up a camp, and slept there. (Besides the one overnight hike with my dad the week prior.) I should be able to proudly say my first backpacking trip ever was a solo 400 mile endeavor. But instead, I feel like a failure. This trip was in the works for two years and it ended in just under two months. What hurts the most now that I’m home is the longing for what else was out there for me.

So why did I leave?

Honestly, I was fucking exhausted mentally and physically. My body was holding up surprisingly well but my mind was not. I wanted to go home so badly that’s all I thought about during the day, when I should have been enjoying the beauty of my surroundings. It’s such a bummer feeling to finally get to summer and wish it was fall or get that meal you’ve been craving for it to be missing a key ingredient. I left because I felt like I was wasting time and money being miserable. I left because I was lonely and doubtful. I left because I felt it was the right decision. I’m not sure if it was.

I wanted the PCT so badly in 2022 that I dreamed about it almost every night.

During that time I was heartbroken, angry that I moved home after grad school, bitter that I was still in the restaurant industry, and overall looking to escape. I planned my way out and rather it being a simple move to a new town, I decided “hey why not walk across the fucking country.” And so I planned, and researched, and did not shut the fuck up about it for two years. By the time came to leave in 2024, I was in a happy and stable relationship, teaching part time (albeit still in the restaurant industry), and enjoying being closer to my family. My angst and decision making that drove me to hike the PCT was no longer there but my pride, determination, and maybe a little bit of feeling like I couldn’t back out was.

More Decisions

Part of me is heavily considering jumping back on trail soon, as I still have so much summer to get in miles. I’m watching the Facebook groups closely and with envy, trying to sus out the conditions in the Sierras. Another part of me wants to stay home and paint, uninterrupted by a job for the first time ever. The trail isn’t going anywhere unless it falls into the ocean but I’ll make sure to go back before then. I have unfinished business with the Pacific Crest Trail, a lot of it. Whether I become a section hiker or a redo hiker, I’ll be back. I don’t know if it will be in a few weeks or next year or when I’m 60, but I’ll be back.

I am thankful for the experience and don’t get me wrong, not all of it was miserable. It was actually quite amazing in those short 400 miles. If I hadn’t gone balls to the wall with this insane idea for a first time backpacking trip, I may have never gotten into the sport, and that would have been tragic. It was life-changing, beautiful, heartbreaking, and one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. I did prove to myself that I’m capable in ways I didn’t know and maybe that’s all I needed.

I want you all to know how much it means to me that you kept up with my story. Thank you to everyone who supported me and encouraged me, back home and on the trail, I hope I haven’t disappointed you. And to my friends still trekking, I miss you and I’m cheering you on from my little town in Colorado.

See ya later,


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 14

  • Nephi : Jun 14th

    Thanks for the update. It’s a strange hobby following strangers and kind of getting to know them from PCT blogs. I’m impressed your first solo hike was 400 miles. Quite a feat!

    • Autumn Hunnicutt : Jun 20th

      Thanks for following along. I kind of love the stranger aspect of connecting with people through this platform, it’s pretty cool.

  • John Tercius Rutkowski : Jun 14th

    Long distance walking is like relationships, some work, some don’t and some you want to revisit.

    Try the Caminos in Spain, take your pick, there are 20 between 150K and 900k. You meet a lot of people from all over the world. You do one, then maybe another. Time commitment is shorter.

    You can’t be perfect the first time, and you walk your own walk.

  • 3day : Jun 14th

    A family member is hiking PCT, so I joined for just 3 days to see what it would be like. From that, I concluded that I would never be able to complete the whole trek in one go!! I found out that on the best year ever, only 35% of the people completed it and sometimes it’s as low as 14%!

    These stats won’t console you and I understand you’re disappointed, but from my 3 day 45 miles perspective, it’s a hell of an accomplishment!!


    • Autumn Hunnicutt : Jun 20th

      Thanks for reminding me those stats. The do offer some consolation and I appreciate the nice comment! It’s tough out theee for sure 🙂

  • Paul Mickley : Jun 14th

    You are amazing! 400 miles!!! For your first trek, oh my goodness you should be so proud!

    • Autumn Hunnicutt : Jun 20th

      Thanks Paul, I appreciate that!

  • Sharon and Marty {Asha and Neeka) : Jun 15th

    Autumn, 1st time,400 miles is not measly! You should be proud! We are in awe !! Throw in that heat wave, in the desert! Wow! !!!!. We miss seeing you at Bella’s.

    • Autumn Hunnicutt : Jun 20th

      Sharon! Thanks for commenting, I miss you guys too. Hopefully I’ll run into you now that I’m home. Tell Marty hi.

  • J-Ro : Jun 17th

    You really need to get in touch with (peg leg).. She and, Sparkles, and Trucker did the whole big ol hike out on the East Coast. She understands the thoughts you’re having.

  • John : Jun 20th

    Who cares about you? Why do you think anyone cares about reading about you? You just talk about yourself and you think people want to read it. It’s so arrogant. Who cares if you failed? You’re not important or worth reading about, so go easy on yourself about failing it.

    • Autumn Hunnicutt : Jun 20th

      Hey John, who the fuck are you? A lot of people care about me actually, and it seems that you cared enough to comment too. The point of being a Trek blogger is to blog about your experience on the trail and well that’s what I’m doing. Don’t like it? I don’t really care. Take a hike buddy 🖕🏻

    • Jeff Greene : Jun 24th

      “Nobody cares!!!!” Says the guy who clearly took the time to read the post and took the time to leave a reply. Personally, I’m amazed you made it 400 miles in your first backpacking trip. Look at High Sierra Trail or John Muir Trail in the future to get a good taste of the Sierra you missed, and help you decide if you really want to commit to another few months on trail. I love hiking and I love overnight/weekend backpacking trips, and I know that I have no interest in a hike like you did—I just follow the through hikers to live vicariously through many of my favorite sections of the trail and remind myself why I’m sticking to the shorter trips!

  • Zach Davis : Jul 8th

    Seeing this one a bit late…sorry!

    Aim for the stars and you’ll reach the moon.

    Autumn, you should be incredibly proud of hiking 400 miles. That’s a distance most people will never trek in a lifetime. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there and even more to recognize when a specific journey isn’t right for you. Kudos to you for all that you’ve accomplished.


What Do You Think?