Why I’m Hiking

I’m a college freshman. I have a full-color map of the Pacific Crest Trail right next to my dorm room door, which I tap on the way out to classes every day, just like a football player on his way out of a locker room. My dream is to complete a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. All 2,668 miles of it. Mexico to Canada. In four months, because I have to get back to university before the Fall 2018 semester starts.

And so, on April 26th, the day after Winter 2018 semester finals conclude, you’ll find me at the Mexican border, staring north in the general direction of Canada. My friends and family think I’m a lunatic. I, too, have my doubts. But why do anything if it doesn’t scare and challenge the hell out of you? I know that this is a little bit longer of a post than I’ll normally do, but these are just some of the reasons why I’m hiking for four months.

Learn to Love My Body

I’ve struggled with disordered eating and body image issues for years. Though I believe I am well on my way to recovery, I still think I need a challenge to solidify my newfound confidence, appreciation, and love for my body. Over the course of the hike, not only will my body inevitably become stronger; but my mind and thoughts will also toughen up to match the incredible power of my body.

Set a Precedent for Success

Once I’ve hiked on my own two legs from Mexico to Canada, what won’t I be able to do? I will have accomplished such an incredible feat that I’ll be able to face any challenge put in my way with the mental toughness to conquer it all. Or, at least, I’ll be confident walking into exams or future job interviews. As other hikers have said, this adventure will set a massive precedent for success in my future endeavors, whatever they may be.

Appreciate Nature and Space

In early September of 2017, the Eagle Creek Forest in the Columbia River Gorge caught fire. The devastation that I felt, along with the complete devastation of everyone in the Pacific Northwest, was absolute. I didn’t pay attention in any of my lectures that day because I was so distraught. And though I will be hiking through that devastated area, and will probably reminisce on when I went backpacking there with my mom during the summers, I’m ready to face that challenge. I’m hiking to gain deep and unwavering passion for the rugged beauty, the unforgiving peace, and the ultimate fragility of the nature that we so often take for granted. I’m also a huge astronomy nerd, and am absolutely thrilled to get away from the city lights and identify constellations and ponder my place in the universe until I fall asleep, every night, all summer long.

I want to learn to live with what’s on my back. I want to test my physical and mental limits to prove to myself that I am unstoppable. I want to practice my wilderness survival skills. I want to escape technology and the mundane laziness that usually marks my summers. I want unforgettable experiences that will stick with me for the rest of my life. I want to be so tired at the end of each day that I fall asleep, under the stars, almost immediately. I want to learn to appreciate the small things. I want to challenge myself and find myself and learn to accept situations that are out of my control.

I am utterly ecstatic to hike this trail. And though I know that there is no way to truly prepare for the magnitude of this hike, I do know that as long as I can maintain an image of my victory, I will be unstoppable, and I will complete this trail. I am ready. Let’s go!

PS: The featured image is me hiking in the Pacific Northwest!

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Comments 3

  • Curtis Murley : Dec 21st

    Good luck Anna!

  • Eliza Swackhamer : Jan 2nd

    Hey! I’m hiking as well and I’d love to get in touch with you and discuss your prep plans along with other things! Happy hiking?

  • April : Feb 24th

    Nice, see you out there!


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