The Long Walk Home

When I set out to thru-hike the Colorado Trail I had no idea that thru-hiking would spark something in me that couldn’t be dampened. I have always found the deepest connection to myself through outdoor experiences and hiking a long trail wasn’t the first time that I’d spent weeks in the backcountry. It was the first time, however, that I had covered that much ground. I found that my body thrived doing exactly what it was made to do: walk.

That’s all for me. Or so I thought…

I finished the Colorado Trail and was grateful for the experience and all I learned doing it, but at that point I had no intention of doing another thru-hike, at least for a while. That sentiment lasted all of two weeks and suddenly I found myself aching to be on trail again. I missed feeling in tune with a natural clock, my sole focus on the simplicity of surviving, and the rhythm of my feet pacing out my days. It was then that I knew I needed to look forward to another long trail to get myself through the winter. At first a multi-state trail didn’t seem probable; how would I get that much time off work, would I be able to prep for something that long, how would it feel to leave my friends and community? I watched one hiking season come and go and the ache to be on trail grew and grew.

While 2023 hikers braved the record snow year on the PCT, I decided that I would do it the following season and began my planning. I knew that the PCT was the best match for me. The Pacific Coast is my home. I was born in California, lived in Oregon for a few years in my youth, and grew up mostly in Washington State. Hiking the PCT would be like hiking home. I live in Colorado currently and miss the West Coast with my whole being. The PCT would be the perfect opportunity to rekindle my deep connection with the west, the place my soul feels most at home. I am not doing the PCT to “find myself,” I know who I am and where I belong and what makes me the happiest. I am hiking the PCT to remember myself, to experience the land that raised me in the deepest and most profound way I know possible: walking through.

Hey Mom, wanna come?

When I decided to commit to thru-hiking the PCT, my first thought was to invite my mom to join me. 

A lot of why I am doing the PCT this 2024 season is due to timing. It just feels right. I’ll be 25, the perfect year to have a quarter-life crisis remedied by a six-month long walk. My mom is 55 and has just been granted massive amounts of time due to no longer having to caretake her mother through dementia; the perfect time for a new, all-consuming project. 

My mom is my best friend, a great travel buddy, and the strongest, most independent and determined woman I know. I look up to her immensely. And yet, our relationship isn’t perfect. We struggle sometimes with communication, mostly on my side as I work to find independence and my own path. I fear disappointing her. Her path has been my inspiration, but her footsteps are massive things to follow. Not to mention, six months is a long time to sleep in the same tent with someone that you haven’t spent more than two weeks with since you left for college over six years ago. I’m hoping this shared experience of living outside and marveling over the endless natural beauty of the trail will bring us even closer again.

Will we make it?

We are incredibly similar. Both fiercely independent, don’t know how to ask for help, and determined to do hard things. The biggest difference between us as we embark on this journey is our desire to plan. My mom is the kind of person who makes 28 plans for every situation, one for each letter of the alphabet, and then a couple more for good measure. I was like this too, up until I graduated college during COVID, worked seasonal jobs for a couple years, and learned that sometimes the best laid plans blow up in your face. I’ve learned that following your instincts is the most powerful thing you can do. That’s not to say that some planning isn’t absolutely necessary, and on the PCT it’s critical for survival. I’m a planner too, I like to have a timeline and lists are my best friend. But my approach is a little different than my mom’s and I’m excited to see how that plays out on our long walk where flexibility and a strong sense of go-with-the-flow is a privilege and a necessary part of the experience.

My own goals

My goals for this walk are simple. Leave my expectations behind: no specific timeline, just flexibility and openness to the process. And relationships: meeting and creating connections with the wide variety of people also walking this path. See y’all soon!

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Comments 1

  • Chris Schedler : Apr 27th

    I’m happy that you and Mom get to undertake this adventure and spend the time together. Mom may have big footprints to follow, but you have longer legs so let her keep up!


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