A Somewhat Less Stereotypical Thru-Hiker

Hey, everyone.

Introductions are always the worst; they feel like one sided interviews. I’ll take the initiative by talking a little bit about myself and what led me to decide to hike the Pacific Crest Trail northbound in 2019.

An overview of my life is a good place to start. I’m probably some sort of hiker stereotype you’d see out on trail: early 20s, white male who just graduated college/university and decided to go on an adventure before settling into a full-time job. It’s a rite of passage, after all. I also fall into the somewhat niche hiker category of being an international hiker. Yep, that’s right, I’m from New Zealand, land of Lord of the Rings, kiwis, rugby, and sheep. There’s more about New Zealand than that, but I’m a sucker for cliches and stereotypes. I also love movies and writing. To potentially save a lot of annoyance from anyone reading this, I am often all over the place with my thoughts. Apologies for that in advance.

Before I overuse the “being from New Zealand” angle as a crutch for jokes, I’ll subvert that expectation and say I’m pretty normal. You know, I have hobbies such as music, movies, and playing video games. I’ve played bass guitar in a few bands in my high school and university life, and have played a few shows in the New Zealand metal scene and alternative rock scene. Being found on trail rocking out and singing to myself is an inevitability. I consider myself a bit of a writer, too; it’s just a hobby at this point. But I thought this would be a good way to combine two hobbies of mine, being outdoors and writing. I mostly write lyrics or poetry; this stems from my music days. But I also have a passion for writing fiction stories, like science fiction/modern fantasy.

The appeal of amazing trail photos is there for me. Although I’m definitely a thru and thru hobbyist photographer, excuse the pun. There will definitely be a future post about my lenses and camera setup. I love taking pictures on trail, even on an overnight or a day hike. I just love nature photography as it has elements of macro and landscape photography. There’s so much variance of scale and subject that is available. The intense beauty of the landscape present in videos and pictures I’ve seen have definitely inspired me to hike the PCT. I can’t wait to experience the Sierra mountain range; the views from the top of the passes and ridges seem like a unique and amazing experience to see. I hope this compels some of you to check out my Instagram at @v.vaeltaja.

To get into the reason why I decided to hike. My first exposure to the idea of hiking a long-distance trail stems from hearing about a few members of my extended family who planned on doing the Camino de Santiago. I thought, that’d be a great experience to do. But I wanted to do something different. The allure of the United States has always been ever-present in me. I went to California, Nevada, and Arizona when I was a teenager. The diversity of natural landscapes left an impression on me. More specifically, seeing the Grand Canyon in a late-December snowfall. That feeling of seeing a dry desert to a snowscape always stuck in my mind. I want to replicate that through experiencing it directly. Also, to see the slow transition of landscape right beneath one’s own feet would be amazing.

Lastly, I hope you all keep coming back for more. Thank you.

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