What I’ve Learned in Two Days on the PCT

Hike Your Own Hike (Truly)

Going into this, I thought I understood what the popular phrase meant. I’d seen it on all of the Facebook groups. Every vlogger and blogger mentions it so often that I started to tune it out.

I get it. You’re not supposed to try to keep up with people who walk faster than you, or take a day off in town when you don’t want to because that’s what everyone else is doing. You’re supposed to hike at your own pace, and make your own decisions about what your hike will look like.

Sounds easy, right? I’m out here to discover who I am, so I have no problem letting other people’s agendas pass me by. I’ve been looking forward to hiking by myself and just enjoying my own company.

But I very quickly learned that “hike your own hike” isn’t just about staying true to yourself amidst the plans of others… it’s also about learning to put your on-trail needs above the plans you made off-trail.

I had set a loose hiking schedule for myself, ensuring that I had enough time to make it to Canada as well as several other prior commitments I have this summer. Less than two days in, I realized the pace I had set was just not doable. I was feeling the beginning stages of plantar fasciitis, my lack of appetite meant my pack wasn’t getting any lighter, and my mental focus was suffering.


After camping shy of my intended goal for night one, I spent the entire second day with my head down, just trying to get as many miles in as possible to make up for the deficit. There were gorgeous views all around me, but I didn’t allow myself time to stop and take any of it in.


And what kind of experience is that? I’m out here to enjoy nature, not stumble through it with blinders on.

So, after a much needed day off for my birthday, I decided to let this idea of completing a thru-hike go. I’m still walking toward Canada, and it would be amazing if I get there, but I think I was focusing too much on the destination, and not on the journey.

When I look at my list of reasons for taking on this hike, only a couple of them involve touching that Northern Terminus and completing the thru-hike. Most of them are centered around me uncovering who I really am at my core, or learning how to rely on myself and make myself proud.

And I can do all those things by just having this experience of hiking. I don’t need to make it to Canada to achieve these things. I’ve already learned so much about myself in just a few short days.

So, I’ve been taking it easy. Going 5 miles one day. Maybe 10 the next. At this rate, I know I won’t make it to Canada, but I’m ok with that. I’m taking it one day at a time and just trying to enjoy the journey as much as I possibly can. I’m incredibly privileged to be out here, and I want to make the most of it by taking in all of the lessons, incredible views, and good conversations that I can.

I’m so proud of myself. Really proud, for the first time in my life, and I’m so grateful to be having this experience.


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 12

  • YuccaTree : Apr 9th

    Lol. So you learned that you’re a quitter. Two days? Jesus.

    • N : Apr 9th

      And we all learned that you’re a gate keeping jerk.

  • Jil : Apr 9th

    Hi Cayla! Randomly found your blog.

    Good for you! Also encouraging.

    I’m hiking the AT starting later this month and plan on starting slower than most. Would rather go at the pace I’m confortable with and enjoy it then potentially overdo it and get injured cause of trudging onwards and being a miles robot!

    Nice to read about someone with a similar mindset.

    No matter what, you will have SO much to be proud of!

    Have a wonderful hike! Looking forward to your posts.

    -Recovering people pleaser

    • Cayla White : Apr 9th

      Thanks for the kind words and support, JIL!

  • CT : Apr 9th

    I think you are too quick in your conclusions, off course everybody owns their own goals and decisions. But you have not got your hiker legs yet, so I dont think you know your future potential. Personally I believe in both enjoying the journey but also the satisfaction of accomplishment.

    Any way, I wish you good luck and strong legs! 😉

    • Cayla White : Apr 9th

      Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Taylor White : Apr 9th

    So proud of you Cayla, this is awesome! Cant wait to see pictures of all the cool sites you get to experience. Love you!

    • Cayla White : Apr 9th

      Thanks Tay! ❤️

  • Katie : Apr 9th

    Hey Cayla! what a beautiful journey (internally & externally) you are on! it takes a lot of guts to do what you are doing and I love how you are staying honest and true to yourself. I’m so excited to follow along as you tackle this incredible feat!

    • Cayla White : Apr 9th

      Thank you Katie 😊

  • DB : Apr 10th

    Bravo. People become obsessed with goals and miss the point entirely. You’re not a quitter. Rather, you know yourself and are not going to pointlessly torture yourself to meet others; expectations. That is wisdom. Good luck!

  • Cindy S. : May 22nd

    You do you. Your honesty is the best thing ever. Enjoy the views. So much to see.


What Do You Think?