The First 100 Miles: Trust, Kindness, and Time

I’m 100 miles in! It’s been an incredible experience already. The trail’s kindness and trustworthiness have moved me to tears. It has also been so interesting to experience a shift in the meaning of time while on the trail.


In life, we are told, “Trust is earned.” and “Don’t talk to strangers.” Having both statements challenged in just a short few days on the trail has been refreshing. And trust me, I know to trust within reason.

Trust on the trail is so different. You begin to trust others and yourself in new ways. On my first night, it was pouring down raining, and I set up camp next to another tent. I never questioned my safety even though I didn’t know who was there. I believed someone like me was in the tent – a thru-hiker or section hiker, and I was right. As the rain passed, I chatted with the guy as if we had known each other for weeks.

You trust that those who traveled before you are there to help and guide you. Trust came as an arrow drawn in the dirt, directing me to the correct intersection. The trail angel gave me water, and the older woman gave other hikers and me a ride into Julian.  The grocery store owner let us camp on the patio because all the hotels were full. You trust the comments in the FarOut App. Trust is inevitable because everyone is there for the same reason.

You begin to trust your body more. Yes, you are sore, and yes, you have blisters or hotspots. Your pack is heavy and crushes your shoulders. However, you trust that your body will get you to the next water source, town, or campsite each morning.

Trust on the trail is a beautiful thing. It’s remarkable how so many people are there to support and encourage you. You can trust them, and they won’t lead you astray. There is a whole community out here!


Unfortunately, people often overlook kindness. At times, people look out for themselves more than others. They forget to say “please and thanks” or even hold the door open for one another.

Kindness on the trail from hikers, trail angels, and random strangers in towns encourages me daily!

Kindness came from a guy I hiked with for a ½ a day who gave me a small can opener in case I needed one in town. Someone I hiked with for a day and a half gave me a lighter because I lost mine. So many strangers say such kind remarks like “You got this!” and “So great to see you out here.” It’s as simple a gesture as tape for hikers to use at the post office in Mount Laguna. Trail angels show kindness and provide water or rides to town. In a world where people only sometimes prioritize kindness, the trail has given me a whole new appreciation.


In life before the trail, I calculated my days, weeks, and months down to a T. Everything was planned and organized. This sense of time was determined by what came next and what needed to be done next.

On the trail, time is a powerful thing. Your day is not based on what time a clock says. Time almost becomes irrelevant. Your day is established by how your body feels, the weather, the next water source, and elevation. You determine the time by how much food you have left and when you’ll resupply. The sunrise and sunset frame your day.

You begin to hike; you go for hours without even knowing it. You get into a rhythm and a groove. On day 2, I hiked with someone, and we arrived outside of Hauser’s Creek and knew we needed to do another 8 miles before camp. We continued the hike and took much-needed breaks, and before we knew it – we hit camp. You get so into the hike that time passes quickly and don’t even realize it. Your sense of time almost goes blank at times. Time is measured by the miles you hike and the milestones you reach!


I wake up, hike, and sleep in my tent with a grateful heart. It still seems unreal to me that I am on the PCT. I remember on the climb out of Julian stopping and staring at the mountainside. I got goosebumps because this journey hit me. I’m on the PCT! A stranger in Lake Modena left an imprint on my heart when she said, “Hey! You must be a thru-hiker.” Yes, I believe I am!  I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and appreciate the kindness and ability to reevaluate what it means to trust while on the trail.

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Comments 1

  • Keetha Graves-Brank : Mar 18th

    Erik…I know your Mom through Anoka-Hennepin.
    Love your reflection’s of your journey so far!
    We should all take a page from your journal to alter our lens for every heading you reflected on.
    Each one of them! Love reading about your adventure!


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