Why I Am Hiking The PCT Before The AT

There are two types of hikers. There are the quiet folks like Carty, who have told only a select few of her upcoming adventure. Then there are people like me. My mother calls me social, but others just call me an over sharer. I kept the plans to hike the Pacific Crest Trail to myself for a couple months and I kept getting increasingly more excited. I enjoy talking with people, I like relating. Technically, I am a barista by trade so, I spend most of my time getting to know my customers and experiencing life with my coworkers. I feel it natural to discuss the plans of our futures and to develop natural human connections. So, when I mention that Carty and I are heading out on the hike of a lifetime this coming April, I usually get one of two responses. “That’s so inspiring, have fun!” or “Why not the Appalachian Trail, I mean, you live in Maine!” Both are valid answers and I see the point of the latter. So today, I will dive into the reasons I decided on the Pacific Crest Trail, as opposed to the Continental Divide or Appalachian.

As you can see by my blogger bio, my name is Sierra. This is no coincidence. My parents were avid hikers in the 90’s. They traveled all over Maine and New Hampshire bagging most of the 4,000 footers before it became a hashtag. Their goal was to always hike the Sierra’s. Unfortunately, college and kids impeded their shared dream and all that remained was my name. I grew up not only hearing about the Sierra’s beauty, but also it’s harshness. My namesake has called to me, like Daisy Buchanan’s green light, and this beacon is something I must finally explore.

Now I’ll backtrack three years ago when my favorite band, First Aid Kit, released a cover of Walk Unafraid by R.E.M for a little film, known as Wild. I figured if my adored artists could get behind a book and movie concept, then I could too. And I did. I read the book in a matter of days and learned about a trail that could take me through the Sierra’s while also experiencing other environments.

Like I said earlier, I am a Maine girl. Born and raised. I’ve hiked and camped parts of the Appalachian Trail my entire life. Because of this, I didn’t feel the same intrigue. I’ve been working on my 48 4,000 footers in New Hampshire, and when I hike the AT, I’ll cross off peaks that I honestly might not be ready for. I see my 4,000 footers as a long-term goal. I have my whole life to day and section these trails.

The PCT also offers one thing that the AT cannot, crazy different ecosystems. I am a nature girl through and through. The idea of spending weeks in the desert, nights under the stars calls to my soul. I’ll experience the Sierra’s and finally the Northwest rainforests. How cool is that? I say it’s wicked awesome, but that’s because it’s late and my accent comes out when I’m tired.

There are no definite reasons why I chose not to hike the Appalachian Trail as my first thru hike. There were only more positive reasons to pick the Pacific Crest Trail. Hopefully I’ll be fortunate enough to experience both. But for now, it’s PCT or bust!


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Comments 3

  • Zach : Nov 3rd

    Excellent intro post, Sierra. Not that I would’ve ever questioned your desire to hike the PCT first, but those are compelling reasons. Looking forward to reading more.

  • Sydnee Tigert : Nov 23rd

    Hey Sierra!

    I’m a NOBO PCT ’18 hiker as well. Hope to see you out there! I just read all of your posts so far (I’m also a blogger for The Trek this year) and I just have one thing to tell you: come up with your own trail name. Ignore the people who say it has to be given to you. Hike your own hike, and name your own experience!

  • Kevin : Dec 20th

    Every time I hiked parts of the PCT I want to hike again. The one time I hiked the AT (Fontana Dam up to top of Smokies) I swore I would never hike it again. Boring, bland, ugly, steep, claustrophobic being engulfed by woods. I wouldn’t hike the AT if you paid me $100,000 to do it. I don’t think I’d could anyways. No way I could find the motivation to hike such a boring trail.


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