Rode bike 7 miles to and from work every day
Hart’s Pass with 2 other women – north to Canadian border, arrived on on July 7th, turned around and headed south.
Reached So. Kennedy Mead.
Made it to the US/Mexico border
Moving out to Washington State to farm the year before introduced Crusher to her love for hiking and established her relationship with nature as a great teacher. Although she had no backpacking experience, she was determined to become the type of person that could and would do a thru-hike of the PCT, and more importantly to become a woman that was comfortable and confident in the wild in spite of society’s limiting beliefs on what a woman is capable of. She had a lot to learn and with the help of the hiker community she learned very quickly, and this thru-hike became a life changing journey. Almost every day there was a moment where she didn’t want to continue on with this crazy hike, but every day also presented countless reassuring moments for why it was so worth it.
THOUGHTS FROM A FIRST TIME BACKPACKER
"Most people thought I was crazy for jumping into this journey with absolutely no backpacking experience. It was a little crazy, but I didn’t have the patience to slowly become a long distance backpacker. A friend I made along the trail compared this to jumping into the ocean without knowing how to swim. In those situations you quickly learn what you need to know to survive because you have to. I started with nothing. I had no gear, no knowledge of gear, no understanding of what it took to do a trip like this. Looking back, I realize how many stupid questions I asked. They feel stupid now because I gained experience, but at the time they were life or death questions. I certainly couldn’t have succeeded without an incredible support system. Before heading out on this adventure I gained backpacking mentors that would answer all of my stupid questions in great detail and never once made me doubt whether or not I could do this. While on the trail I learned an incredible amount from experience and especially from fellow hikers. It all became doable very quickly.
"There were a few gear choices I started to regret - since I had to buy everything at once, I ended up with the less expensive, heavier gear instead of the more expensive, lightweight gear that others were able to acquire over years of backpacking. But not having the perfect gear didn’t make the trail impossible; in fact I’m thankful for the learning experience that it provided. I learned from lesser gear and know how to improve my backpacking experience in the future. My close hiking buddy definitely made fun of me throughout most of the trail for my lack of knowledge and certain ‘beginner’ gear choices, but she was also one of my biggest cheerleaders. Once I made it halfway through the PCT, one of my backpacking mentors confessed that she didn’t think I was even going to make it through Washington but was extremely proud to see how far I had come and how much I had grown. I imagine there were plenty of others who also didn’t think I was going to make it. Thinking about that only made me push myself harder though, and eventually I made it to the southern terminus wondering how 2650 miles went by so quickly and how someone without any backpacking experience could gain the trail name ‘Crusher’…"
THOUGHTS FOR OTHER FEMALE HIKERS
"As a woman I got many comments before, during, and after hiking the trail. Before the trail, I received many concerned comments like, “you’re not going alone right?” And, “aren’t you scared?” A few people asked if I was bringing a weapon - a gun or a knife. During the hike I would often run into day hikers or people in town who would again ask if I was alone, or if I was with one of my female friends at the time they would say, “well at least you have each other.” It got to the point where us women wished that we were alone just so we could say YES and blow their conventional minds. I loved my friends that I hiked with for part of the trail, but it was infuriating that people didn’t think I could do it alone. One time, we encountered a couple of older men out for a weekend trip and they left us with the comment that we shouldn’t get up early to tackle a snow section but instead should get our ‘beauty sleep’. It was especially funny to us since beauty was the farthest thing from our minds while we were on the trail. These comments would always frustrate me and were part of why I chose to do this hike. Despite whether or not it was intentional, the sentiment that as a woman I was not capable of accomplishing this feat was felt through comments like these.
It was extremely satisfying during the sections that I did hike solo to be able to say, “yes, I am by myself” and watch the shock wash over their faces. The solo sections of my hike were especially important to me. To be absolutely alone in the wild and be comfortable with my own survival skills and content with my own company and thoughts was a key part of my journey. Those moments were extremely empowering for me and gave me a bold confidence that I can carry with me throughout the rest of my life. The idea of being alone in the wild can be unsettling since throughout history much of society has suggested that that is not the place for a woman, but most of us felt safer out in the wild than we would in the city. I never once felt threatened by a human while on the trail. I never felt like I needed a weapon at the ready – I didn’t sleep with a knife under my pillow. Hitchhiking can make some women pretty nervous, understandably so. Any time a big white van pulled over my heart would beat a little faster. For the most part I hitchhiked with other people until I was comfortable doing so alone. You learn how to evaluate a hitch situation, whether or not to trust the ride and act accordingly. There were rarely any sketchy situations though, since so many of the little trail towns are aware of hikers and have generous people willing to help out."
"Starting in Washington was definitely challenging. It made me wish I had done better training and conditioning beforehand. It seemed more like an obstacle course with the never ending passes to climb, the frustrating unstable scree, half the forest fallen down on Cutthroat Pass (aptly named) forcing one to army crawl under a tree or awkwardly haul yourself over a massive trunk. We often thought to ourselves, “I did not sign up for this obstacle course,” but then you’d turn a corner and see an incredible view to reward you for your struggle. I think the biggest challenge of Washington though was that we began to take it for granted. After the initial excitement about the journey fades into the pain of constantly pushing your body, you can become slightly jaded. We started to look forward to Oregon, where it was rumored to be flat, or at least flatter than Washington.
It wasn’t until we got to Oregon though that we realized how good we had it in Washington. The magnificent, grandiose views stood out even more once we were in Oregon’s more simple landscapes. The days and nights of being completely soaked seemed to fade away as new struggles filled your thoughts. You barely remember how wet your socks would be upon waking up in the morning as you painstakingly pulled them on and squished your feet into your soggy shoes before stepping out of your tent to get soaked all over again only 5 minutes into your day. Okay…so maybe I do remember, but for the most part the first thing that pops into my head when thinking about Washington is how breathtakingly gorgeous it was and I regret not stopping more to soak in the views like my clothes soaked in the rain. "
HER TRAIL ADVICE...
“Take training and conditioning seriously. You put your body through a lot. Don’t forget to stretch!
Prioritize taking moments to stop, look, and soak it all in. You’ll get the miles done. But it all passes too quickly.
Towards the end of the hike, start setting yourself up for life post trail. Of course don’t let planning for the future take away from appreciating the trail and being in the moment, but it’s a tough transition afterwards and making sure you have some of life figured out will be helpful.
Get a good headlamp - especially if you’re planning on summiting Mt. Whitney in the middle of the night to catch the sunrise.”