Why I, A Scared Girl, Am Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2022

“I have never done that before so I think I can do it,”

…says Pippi Longstocking and says I. Hello there! I’m reporting to you live from Amsterdam (the Netherlands) at the moment. However, at the beginning of April, I will be crossing the ocean to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Even though the start date of my hike is still one month, 18 days, 11 hours, and 50 minutes away (but who is counting?!).

I thought I would introduce myself to you avid readers of The Trek blogs! The Pacific Crest Trail will be my first thru-hike. If you follow me, you are sure to witness big mistakes and hopefully get a good laugh out of it. I don’t know how common this knowledge is but the Netherlands is a very flat country. We are six meters (19 ft.) below sea level and as flat as the pancakes we like to eat. So how come a girl without significant mountain experience is going to hike some of the highest mountain ranges in the US of A?!

Another Hiker Inspired by the Book Wild

I got into hiking just three years ago because I read this great but very unknown book called Wild. At the time, I was convinced that thru-hiking is only for a very small minority of extremely brave, strong, and fit people. The idea of going on such an adventure gave me excitement butterflies in my stomach. Yet, I was convinced it was not an option for people like me: those who like their comforts, need their daily showers, and do not love exercising.

This is when I stumbled on my second cliché: Youtube videos by thru-hikers. And yes, all of them are extremely brave, strong, and fit people. But most did not start out like that. I was convinced and I attempted a couple of long hikes in different European countries. I made a lot of rookie mistakes. For example, attempting 30 km (18 miles) on the first day without any training, wearing 50 euro trail runners, and using a 32F sleeping bag above the polar circle. I quit some hikes early but I also learned that I love hiking.

Why I Love Hiking

I love that my mind just goes empty when I hike. No thoughts except about where to eat, where to sleep, where to collect water, and where to shit. I love how invincible hiking makes me feel. I walk long distances every day no matter the weather. I carry everything I need on my back. I make every decision by myself, even decisions that could mean life or death. I love seeing the landscape change very slowly. How my attention to detail increases, noticing leaves, clouds, and little insects. I love how people you meet on the trail can go from strangers to best friends in a matter of minutes. How conversations go deep very quickly. Hikers are some of the best people I know. But most of all, I love that almost anyone can do it. Just walk out your door and hike!

Scared girl braves catholes and goes on an adventure of a lifetime!

Before I started hiking, I had this image of myself as being a shy, scared girl. Well, this girl scaled mountains, shit in a cathole, slept in a tiny tent during big storms,  and made tons of trail friends. Hopefully, through my writing for The Trek, I will convince some doubters out there to buy some hiking shoes and go on their first walk. But mostly, I hope you will be entertained.

Now, The Trek told me that a great blog is 500 words long. And I’m already over, that but I have told you very little about myself. So here’s the gist of it: I’m a 30-year-old Dutch woman who loves fries with mayonnaise, dogs, and 80s music. For the last couple of years, I have been working as a human rights/sustainability lobbyist. Still, the COVID-pandemic, turning 30, going through a break-up after six years of relationship, and feeling dissatisfied with my work has left me in need of an adventure. Hence I’m flying off to California in April and I hope to meet some of you on here or on the trail!

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Comments 24

  • Jhony : Nov 20th

    What a great post. This old coot looking forward to learning about your adventure

    Reply
    • Kelly Groen : Nov 25th

      Thank you so much!

      Reply
  • Eric Matthews : Nov 25th

    Hey Kelly –

    Fantastic blog. Congrats on deciding to hike the PCT. Kudos for having the courage to try something so daunting.

    I love hiking too – especially in the western states of the US.

    Cant wait for your next blog.

    Eric Matthews

    Reply
    • Kelly Groen : Nov 30th

      Hi Eric, thank you so much for your kind words!

      Reply
  • Maricela park : Nov 26th

    Congrats! Look forward to reading your blog. If you end up stopping thru Ridgecrest CA and need a place or ride let me know. I love hearing the tales of PCT hitchhikers I sometime give rides too when I hike in the Eastern Southern Sierras. I consider myself a scared hiker too. Yet…I keep going back. Lol

    Reply
    • Kelly Groen : Nov 30th

      Thank you so much! Will definitely keep that in mind 🙂 I know right, can’t stop, won’t stop hiking!

      Reply
  • Mark Boulger : Dec 12th

    Hi Kelly

    This “old coot” (60 yrs old) starts May 6, 2022 at Campo. My first post-retirement venture. Part of me can’t wait. Another, bigger, part of me is terrified…about a lot of things including the desert and mostly snakes. I’m Canadian so we only see rattlesnakes in movies and tv shows and I’m not not sure what I’ll do do when I see/hear the first one

    I’m finding meals and food will be an issue. I mean healthy meals and healthy food. And I guess insert “reasonably” before each noun….I’m not expecting miracles. I had a heart attack 3 yrs ago so sodium is an issue, which means almost any commercial dehydrated or freeze dried meal is a problem. I’m experimenting with do-it-yourself dehydrated meals but I’m not sure about re-supply boxes. Most of what I’ve read recommends limiting these….would welcome any thoughts from you or others

    Best wishes with your hike. Regards, Mark

    Reply
    • Kelly Groen : Jan 6th

      Hi Mark,

      Such a great idea to do this hike post-retirement! I would also like to eat as healthy as possible, I have high blood pressure so also need to monitor my sodium intake. My resupply plan is to shop at grocery stores along the trail in California. This seems to be quite doable with food carries of about 4-5 days maximum. I will also skip the backpacker meals and create my own dinners with couscous, rice, pasta and packaged protein like tuna, salmon and chicken. And I will carry out fruit and vegetables on my first days out of town, things like oranges, apples, avocado, spinach, carrots and cucumbers. For lunch, I will eat bread or tortillas with a slice of hard cheese and for breakfast, I will eat oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit. Then in the Sierra, if I feel strong enough, I might try to make it through the entire high Sierra with a Kennedy Meadows supply. Otherwise, I will get off trail at Kearsage Pass, about halfway in, and go to Lone Pine or Bishop. In Oregon and Washington, I will send resupply packages as I will have more of an idea of what I like. And these places are much harder to resupply at.

      Hope this helps!

      Best,
      Kelly

      Reply
      • Alan Kelly : Feb 21st

        Hi Kelly,
        Thanks for the detailed reply to Mark, sounds like you have done your research.
        I expect to do the PCT in 2024 after the TA in New Zealand.
        Looking forward to following your adventure.
        Regards,
        Alan

        Reply
    • Phil Carmichael : Apr 9th

      Mark,
      The threat from rattlesnakes is far over blown. I spent many years hiking/cycling in the desert, rattlers are venomous of course but they will do their best to scurry away from you given the chance.
      In So Calif the toxic plant Poodlebush, UV exposure and lack of water are bigger threats.
      Stay hydrated and have an awesome lifetime adventure.
      Phil

      Reply
      • John "Ruffles" : Apr 12th

        Well said Phil, you are exactly spot on having traversed the border to Mohave more than a few times. Have fun everyone out there!

        Reply
  • GB : Dec 28th

    At 35 my girlfriend and I backpacked around the world for 6 months visiting 28 countries. We planned and saved for over a year. Afraid of the unknown is real. That in itself was the perfect reason to do it. 23 years later and I’m ready for another “trip of a lifetime”. We got engaged in Greece and married in Sonia. Have traveled to 83 countries now and traveling has become my drug of choice. Dream big and remember it starts with the first step. I have a map of the Appalachian trail hanging in my office. It will happen. I look forward to reading your journey.

    Reply
    • Kelly Groen : Jan 6th

      83 countries, that sounds amazing!! Wishing you all the best on your future travels 🙂

      Reply
  • Bob : Jan 4th

    Hi Kelly,

    Groeten uit Amsterdam 😉 ik vertrek eind april dezelfde kant op, erg spannend moet ik zeggen! Heel leuk om je verhaal te lezen, veel plezier met de voorpret en wie weet tot in Californië!

    Cheers,

    Bob

    Reply
    • Kelly Groen : Jan 6th

      Hoi Bob,

      Wat leuk! Het komt nu wel dichtbij hè. Er is best een grote groep Nederlanders die de PCT gaan lopen. Er is een Facebook-groep als je het leuk vind om deel te nemen 🙂

      Groetjes,
      Kelly

      Reply
      • Esther : Mar 9th

        Veel succes Kelly!

        Leuk om te horen dat er zelfs een hele fb-groep met NLers is die de PCT gaan lopen, als je die nog wilt delen graag!

        Heb zelf namelijk nogal moeten zoeken naar NLers die de AT gingen lopen aantal jaar geleden. Jongen die ik daar van ken, gaat de PCT ook lopen dit jaar, maar die ken je dus misschien al 😉

        Reply
  • Mary : Feb 16th

    “Scared girl braves catholes and goes on an adventure of a lifetime!”

    I loved this headline haha! Great post. I’m also thru-hiking this year (Appalachian Trail) after a breakup and hitting a wall career-wise. Can’t wait to follow along on your journey!

    Reply
  • Crossword : Feb 19th

    Very entertaining post! I look forward to following your journey. I see from the one photo that you have hiked the Kungsladen! That is on my bucket list but not sure when I will get to it. Enjoy your adventure!

    Reply
  • Candy : Feb 19th

    Hi Kelly! Congratulations on your upcoming hike. I am a 70 year old woman who is also a big Cheryl Strayed fan and am currently hiking the trail virtually as a Conqueror challenge. It’s been fun to read about the experiences that some of last year’s hikers had but I wanted to find someone who will be hiking it at the same time that I am dreaming about being there myself. My husband is 3/4 Dutch and my son-in-law is fully Dutch so I feel like you’re one of my kids. I’ll be cheering you on! Hope all your preparations to well and that you’re able to hit the trail in April as planned. You go, girl!

    Reply
  • Rich C : Feb 22nd

    Great post – can’t wait to follow your adventures – wishing you a wonderful time!

    Reply
  • Rob Dunning : Feb 22nd

    Hi Kelly,
    I am Rob. I live in Sierra City and run the hotel where Cheryl Strayed stayed on her hike. It is an old gold miner hotel built in 1886 and has all the character of the era. You can look it up at oldsierracityhotel.com. I sincerely hope you stop in when you get here (almost half way to Canada) the hotel is right across the street from the store that receives a lot of hikers’ packages. Peace and safe journey my friend.
    Rob

    Reply
  • Christine : Mar 29th

    You are a true inspiration! I’m going to do that hike one day! So excited to see more about your adventures!!!

    Reply
  • Cindy : Apr 25th

    Best of luck! My daughter starts the PCT on May 2. We have the re supply boxes lined up downstairs containing dried foods in every variety. She’s way more into this than this mama bear is. It’s an adventure of a lifetime!

    Enjoy every moment!

    Reply
  • Mine : Jun 19th

    Don’t want to alarm you, but watch out for Shasta Monutain .There are a lot of disappearences and locals think there are feral people out there aka cannibals.Make sure you stay connected and safe.

    Reply

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