Thru-Hiking “The Right Way”

So you wanna be a thru-hiker.

Get outside and get hiking.

Let me be clear. If you want to be a thru-hiker, hike your own hike. There is no correct way to be.

There will always be “professionals” that come along and plant seeds of doubt. My hiking partner, Steve-o, has done thousands of miles, on the Pacific Crest Trail, in blue jeans and All-Stars. The only real requirement to be a hiker is to leave no trace and to be out there hiking.

If anyone says otherwise, look them dead in the eye and say, “Watch me.”


I started hiking the PCT last year, in February 2019. When the last winter storms dump snow, you know? Yeah, the only other backpacking trip I had under my belt was an overnight trip during summer. That being said, I still managed to hike 1,100 miles! I didn’t know much of anything and the weight of my pack reflected that.

I also went up Forester Pass, the highest part of the trail, in white-out conditions. I was third up out of 20 that day. Crampons and trekking poles for me, while Steve-o had the ice axe and microspikes combo.

I led my group down the other side, in waist-deep snow where you couldn’t make out the sloping. It was what I’d imagine it would be like to walk if I was drawn on a piece of paper someone put in their freezer.

Don’t let anyone say you can’t hike.

Thru hiking the pct

Trying Again; Different Goals

This year, I decided to prepare for my thru-hike by enjoying everything I’m leaving behind for several months. I’ve been keeping my mind busy by reading books I won’t be carrying, cuddling and playing with my cats, and especially making time for friends!

I am going to miss my amazing support system and my husband a great deal. This year I plan to stay connected with him via videochat, instead of just sending postcards. While I will still send postcards to my loved ones, I want us to keep connected by making time for each other and minimizing distractions while we chat.

Last year I had a lot of trauma to process. I really started to get my life back together after my first attempt at the PCT. This year, I am all about continuing to better myself AND our planet. This year, the trauma I am going to be processing is the trash off our trails!

The Art of Getting Over It

Everyone wants cleaner nature; that is fact.

No one seems to want to put in the effort.

2020 will be the year I’d like to ask everyone to put their ego aside when they see trash. Stop passing it by because you know “someone out there will pick it up.” That someone should be you. If you count the weight of your pack (I never have), you should be able to calculate how much trash you should be able to carry, too.

If you want to do a lot of charts and research, stuff that will eventually just end up as kickass memories, do it. I ask that you factor in how you decide to give back to the amazing treasures of trail. Whether it’s giving money to the trail angels who give love to hikers like us or picking up a rusted cans you find while looking for a place to pee, give back.

This new decade should be all about creating a better tomorrow than creating a popular image to impress or trying to relive the past.

Together we can get over our egos and give back when we can.

Thru hiking the pct


Trash facts: Mining for aluminum causes deforestation, erosion, polluted water sources, and a threat to animal life. The good news is that it’s 100% recyclable, which means that when we pack them out, we can help create new aluminum items!

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 4

  • MZ : Feb 23rd

    I appreciate your article. My wife and I try to take some trash back with us every time we go on a hike. We often get a lot of strange looks when we pick up garbage like what we’re doing is some alien act. In January, we were coming back on a hike through a sledding area where people had left tons of trash, mostly broken bin lids that people use for sleds. This was in the Nevada State Park. After 5 or 10 minutes of collecting trash, a random tourist from Pakistan started helping. I thanked her and told her that the area would look nicer because she came to visit, and that I appreciate it her effort. She was happy to be acknowledged and continued picking up trash with us until the area was cleaned up. It was the first time someone had join them and it felt awesome, like the years of cleaning up trash were all worth it because one person saw us and it changed their attitude. I’m hoping that she continues to do that on her travels and maybe one person decides to follow her lead.

    • Taogoi : Feb 23rd

      That’s so awesome!! Thank you for inspiring others, I feel like that is the hardest part of it. Keep it up!

  • Merilee Cross aka Fearless : Feb 23rd

    Thank you for writing about trash being left on the trail. So far I have not been called to thru-hike, but for years, every summer I live between Lake Tahoe and Crater Lake. My home is Mount Shasta, so I have hiked my entire life… My parents were also avid hikers and carried me in a basket when I was too young to walk. We love the wilderness!! That said, every year as part of my gear, I carry a small trash bag, or recycled grocery sack to collect trash along the trail. Once it is full, I simply drop the contents into a trash can at the next trail town. I figure the few extra ounces give me a better workout, wildlife is not harmed by it, and the trail is beautiful once again… Happy Trails!! Fearless ???

    • Taogoi : Feb 23rd

      Thank you so much for keeping the nature you love clean and healthy! I also plan on using whatever sack I will have on hand (plastic bags from town, zippies, ect). Hopefully we can inspire more people to hold themselves to pick up trash they see, theirs or not. Happy trails back at ya!!


What Do You Think?