PCT Southbound

Go your own way

Filtering by Category: Female Hikers

Spice Rack

Backpacking Experience
A ton of 2-5 nighters the year before trail along the PCT and AZT. One 10 day Pct trip back in 14' which started it all.

Lots of backpacking. Lots of talking to thru hikers. Listening from the best.

Harts Pass up to Canadian border, kissed the monument, turned south on July 7th

Date Reached So. Kennedy Meadows
October 22nd

Hike Result
Lived a 5 month long dream. Made it to the US/Mexico border


With the discovery of the AT, Ally had wanted to thru hike since she was 18. But taking half a year off and saving enough money just never quite seemed attainable. She started her own art print business in 2012 with the goal of having one of those lives with more than a weeks worth of vacation time a year. A good friend of hers passed away suddenly at the age of 33 in 2014 and she decided that thru hiking was moving up on her list. Saving became a priority, the PCT was discovered, and the decision was set. She met a woman thru hiking the PCT southbound solo almost right at the halfway point and during that conversation realized that SOBO was the way for her. It was that same chance meeting with that SOBO where Ally learned that thru hikers were filled to the brim with golden hiking knowledge. She spent a year and a half before the trail traveling around in a self built camper van saving money, backpacking as much as possible, and picking the brains of those wise thru hikers.


"Romanticizing the trail can lead to a huge reality check and letdown once you're out there. Books and the internet are all fine and dandy, and during my prep I read everything that had been or ever will have been written on thru hiking, but the most invaluable parts of prep for me were short backpacking trips learning for myself, as well as sitting down and talking to other thru hikers one on one. That's where the romanticizing dropped off and I truly realized what I was signing up for. I made it my mission to backpack as much as I could and talk to as many thru hikers as I could. I started at the Mexican border heading NOBO with a thru hiker friend of mine, took a notebook and grilled as many thru hikers as I could. I hiked up in WA and talked to every thru hiker I came across who was almost finished with their hike. I wanted to know what they had to say and I wanted to see their faces light up when they talked about those 'only out here' moments. My hike would not have been the same without my own backpacking experiences under my belt or without hearing from the saltiest hikers, the ones smack dab in the middle of their own journey. They're the ones who told me to stop obsessing over gear and just to focus on what I want out of this. They're the ones that gave me the bigger picture mindset going in."


"I personally loved tackling some of the most challenging portion of the trail right in the beginning. Washington and all of her beautiful glory right out of the gate was just the ticket for starting out, with such brutal elevations. The beginning is going to be hard regardless of which way you start, might as well get the tough handled. I would start in Washington over the desert if I could choose again. Hands down."


"I like to think the boost from spending time with loved ones evened out the struggles of getting back into the daily trail grind, but in the future I would avoid long breaks if at all possible. I took three days off at the WA/OR border for a family emergency, three days off in NorCal to visit family, and five days off just after the Sierra for my best friend's wedding. The days following each of those breaks were some of the hardest. The only time I ever really wanted to quit the trail was after the 5 day wedding madness break. I was struggle bussing hard and just needed serious rest. I took a true restful zero and was rejuvenated. I had to swallow my pride and lower miles a bit after each break. There is something truly magical about the rest and rejuvenation a double near-o can bring, maybe even a zero if you need to full sloth it out for a day, but any more than that just didn't work for me at all. I paid for it later. As much as your brain wants to run the show, you seriously have to listen to your body out there. Find what works for you."


"I felt safer those 5 months on trail than I do traveling around in cities solo. I would often text my checkin people, "I'm safe and back to the trail" when I left a trail town and headed back out for another stretch. Know how to take care of yourself out there, and you'll be just fine. Don't let fear get to you. And always have a prepared excuse for not accepting a hitch if you're not 100% comfortable. Even if we're wired for politeness, be firm and stand your ground if something is off."


"My boyfriend met me for the last 650 southern miles of the trail. That was an adventure all on it's own. We had the huge advantage that he was also a thru hiker and had hiked the trail NOBO in 13' so he knew what to expect. We had a bit of a disadvantage with this taking place fairly early in our relationship when we were still getting to know one another. It took effort prioritizing the trail as well as our relationship. There were some growing pains for sure, but I wouldn't have wanted anyone else there with me at the southern terminus other than my main support system throughout the entire trail. Knowing what you both want and knowing what you're both willing to sacrifice will help a lot. And just expect to have more conversations than you could possibly imagine about incompatible pacing issues… it's just going to happen. Share cookies with one another, don't forget that you're living in a dream out there, and just keep walking."


"So out here you poop in the woods. It's just part of it. Some people love it, some people merely tolerate it. I totally embraced it. I held up my bright orange snow stake trowel and snapped a shot whenever the view was just too beautiful to believe for a bathroom view. At the end of the hike, I put together a Places I've Pooped calendar with my collection of photos. A big smile washes over my face when I look as these photos and know that those spectacular views were as normal as morning trail poops. What a life. The trail is all about your mindset. That's all it really comes down to. Have a great mindset, have a great journey."


"Expect for 90% of the trail to be cold, wet, lonely, just suckery, but for the 10% to be so over the top amazing that the 90% doesn't phase you. It'll never be that horrible I promise, but just keep your expectations in check. It's tough, but goodness is the tough worth it for those 'only out here' magical moments."

"Books totally count as consumables; their weight shouldn't count towards your baseweight. They are also friends on lonely days."

"You will start to resent passing so many NOBOs come southern oregon. It's just gonna happen. Try this! High five them and say, "Between the two of us, we've just hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail! Good job to us!" I smiled for an entire day when one of the last NOBOs I came across introduced me to that amazing greeting."  

"Keep a hand written journal every night. Or a doodle journal. Or a music journal. You'll treasure it when you finish."

"Soak as many of those fleeting moments as you can. The blister squirt in your face, being the first human of the day to see the sun touch the top of a pass, the quick hug from a trail family member you didn't know you wouldn't see for the rest of the trail. Don't slow your feet down, you've got snow to race, but slow your mind down and soak it all."

"If the question is, 'Should I pack out guac?" the answer is always an enthusiastic, "Yes!"

"Be thankful for everything you come across along the trail. A grateful heart remembering all of the wonder in past few days will be much more patient when plans go awry. Our lives are dreams out here, the least we can do is be as grateful to the trail as possible."

Bright Eyes

Backpacking Experience

Already in good shape and had always been into athletics and fitness, but did nothing in particular to train for the thru hike.   

Got dropped off at Harts Pass on July 9th. Went straight south.  

Date Reached So. Kennedy Meadows
October 6th

Hike Result
Made it to the US/Mexico border



Bright Eyes had always wanted to explore Western America, many spots which were on the PCT. She had never imagined doing a thru-hike, however the timing was right and the ambition was there.

Although she had no backpacking experience, Bright Eyes set off to do the PCT solo with little expectations of what was going to become of it. At many times she left trail to venture off into new things, thinking she had reached the end of her thru hike, but the trail always called her back. Bright Eyes got to see everything she had imaged plus more, completing her thru hike and falling completely in love with the PCT.  


“Before I even set off, I got a lot of negativity and criticism towards my decision to hike the PCT from family, friends, and other hikers because of my lack of experience. It is really easy to let that stuff get to you but the important thing is to not let it. Yea, I didn’t have any backpacking experience, but I knew what I was getting into, did my research, and had the confidence, motivation and ambition I needed in order complete the PCT. It doesn’t matter where you come from or how you do it. People always make excuses why they can’t thru hike- timing, age, experience, etc. None of that matters. You just have to be able to put yourself out there and say “I’m doing this.”. It’s possible no matter what. Hike your own hike and make it the experience you hoped for and everything more.”


“Just enjoy everything and every moment on trail. Take a million photos. Embrace your blisters, the days you want to quit, stressful town stops, soggy Washington weather. Everything. You’ll miss it when it’s over, even more than you think.”

“Everything is going to work out how it should. You didn’t do enough miles one day? You had to take an unplanned zero? Your box didn’t show up on time? It’s okay. There are going to be a few bumps in the road but each bump is going to get you to a new place with amazing people. Each bump is going to change your journey and craft your trip. One thing is going to lead to another and it will all work out. Some of my favorite moments on trail came out of things not working out how they were “supposed to”. So don’t stress about it, it isn’t going to matter in the end.”

“Take advantage of the mental and physical capabilities you have during your hike. The PCT allows you to surprise yourself in a million different ways… so let it. You have a clear-cut goal that might seem impossible some days, but so doable others. Challenge yourself, be spontaneous, set goals, do things you didn’t think you could ever do. Take full advantage of the shape and state you are in because the outcomes will be amazing.”

“I spent an abnormally long time hiking by myself and had felt I was missing out on the social aspect of thru hiking, especially when hitting the NOBO heard. Don’t let mileage get in your way of missing out on these types of moments. If you find a group you want to camp with, cut your day short. Stop and have lunch with a NOBO passing by. Stay at the Dinsmores and the Andersons even if you didn’t plan on it. Finish your hike with a group even if you had a different end date in mind. These things are parts of the PCT. Skipping these moments just weren’t an option for me and they are easily some of my favorite moments on trail. Mileage is important, but don’t fly through your hike and miss out on these opportunities, because those moments are what you’ll remember when it’s over.”


Backpacking Experience
A lot of 4-5 day trips and a summer working in Glacier NP.  

Some day hikes, mainly just biking a lot and baseline decent shape.

Ashland, OR (Callahans) and went north - July 1st. August 20th at US/Can Border, then back to Ashland and southbound. 

Reached So. Kennedy Mead
October 5th

Hike Result
Made it to the US/Mexico border


Before the trail Huck was working a part-time job and seeing if she wanted to study law. She had talked to a good friend a lot about the trail, and both agreed that unless they were in debt or had children they wanted to do the trail as soon as they could. It wasn’t that either needed the trail to find themselves, but they both thought they'd just really enjoy it. They northbounded from Ashland to the US/Canadian border to avoid the snow, and then Huck's friend left the trail. Huck went to Ashland and continued south alone, spending about three weeks of her hike hiking by herself.


"I hiked the first 7+ weeks with one of my best friends. We were both competent on our own in the outdoors and had similar levels of physical and mental endurance. We both liked to push ourselves, but neither of us was addicted to clocking miles. You're planning the intimate details of life together when you hike with someone - what will we eat, where will we camp, when will we stop for a break, why do you take so long to poop? It's way too much time together to internalize resentment about basic physical wants and needs, especially in a context when you're more tired and worn down and those simple topics are more important. So being comfortable enough with each to communicate was key. People say it's important to each have a full gear set in case you split up, but we shared a tent, stove and other items and it was fine. For us, it wasn't about each doing the trail, it was about doing it together. I'd say our friendship was even stronger when we finished.

My friend stopped, as previously planned, after OR/WA and I continued on in CA on my own. I also really, really liked getting to have that solo experience. I hiked almost 3 weeks by myself in different segments and that was challenging but also empowering. 
In general I trusted people a lot on the trial, and as a woman hiking alone you get a lot of respect. I definitely had that thought in the back of my mind that I was at risk, but overall I was empowered and I trusted people and I felt like people respected me. I feel like women are viewed as equals by fellow hikers, or at least most fellow hikers. In general safety wise I felt fine. I would encourage women to feel fine hiking alone. I think it’s better for lots of reasons to hike with people, but I don’t think someone should feel afraid.

Being alone also opens you up more to meeting people and joining up with others on the trail. It's a great community, and it seems most people meet others to hike with along the way. I ended up hiking with a solo guy and a married couple, and it was a fantastic group. I have heard about many "trail break-ups," though, mainly between friends. One person decides they don't want to do the trail, people hike at different paces, or people just have a falling out. Hiking with a friend can be an incredible shared experience, but communicate a lot! Make sure your friendship is more important than your miles, even if that means splitting up. Also, one thing my friend and I agreed to was that if one of us didn't feel comfortable or safe doing something, we wouldn't do it. And this actually came into play one time when we were deciding whether or not to cross a river (we ultimately kept going down stream till we found a log), and it was a good thing to have established beforehand."


"I made the decision to flip-flop because there was still a lot of snow in the North Cascades and I couldn't push my start date back because of my hiking buddy's post-trail plans. We didn't feel like we had enough experience in snow, particularly with route-finding, and ultimately decided it wasn't worth risking it. We started at Callahan's (Ashland) and headed north to the Canadian border, then I flipped back to Ashland to head south to Mexico. We hit snow a day south of Crater Lake but besides having to use Guthook a bit to stay on trail, it was fine. Snow continued several days past Crater Lake off and on but we didn't have any serious traverses or passes, just following footprints, wearing more clothes, and using Guthook pretty regularly. Northern Oregon was almost completely free of snow, as was all of Washington except a couple traverses in the Goat Rocks. Our time in the North Cascades was spectacular. Not only were there no snow complications, but the weather was beautiful and we had stunning views. We met quite a few NOBOs in OR/WA, many of the front 30 or so of the pack, but we never crossed the herd. It would have been an interesting experience, but I was glad to never have a crowded trail. "

"When I flipped back to Ashland, I was probably 1/3 of the way back in the SOBO "pack" and I continued on with the SOBO crowd. Flip-flopping definitely provides a more solo experience. Very few others will be doing the same route so you don't meet as many fellow hikers and you don't share as common of an experience. People you meet on the trail and hike with really are a huge highlight of the experience so this is a significant con for flip-flopping, in my opinion. Perhaps more of a flip-flopper community can be created and it can become a more established third way to do the trail, whether that's from Donner Pass or somewhere further north. It's a great option for avoiding risky snow and potentially lengthening the time you can take to do the trail. It's also a fantastic option for people who want a solo experience. For those who just want less of a crowd though, I would recommend going SOBO. I loved my experience and the people I met because I flipped, but all things considered, if I had it to do over again, I would have gone straight SOBO."


"Some of my favorite items I brought aren't on a typical gear list. I bought a lightweight waterproof speaker toward the end when there were four of us hiking together. We used it to listen to music, podcasts, a presidential debate, and an audiobook together. Awesome way to pass the time, and great for spurring conversation. I also started carrying a strand of battery operated Christmas lights after my sisters came to hike with me for a bit and brought them along. So great. We'd string them up over wherever we were all eating our dinners and it created a nice little ambiance. My mosquito net was another game-changer. I highly recommend getting the full torso one with long sleeves, not just a head net. Oregon would have been mostly misery without these. One thing I loved but that I ditched toward the end when I was sending home everything possible was a lightweight collapsible bucket. I had two shirts, 2-3 pairs of socks and two pairs of underwear that I rinsed in that, dried on my pack, and alternated each day, especially in the first 2-3 months when it's hot enough to really get sweaty. Rather than washing directly in a water source. It was also great for getting water to put out bonfires, carrying dinner supplies to a pretty eating spot, and for sitting on."

"My friend and I decided to make a bunch of dehydrated dinners for our trip and it was a fantastic decision. Thai peanut sauce with rice noodles, black bean chili and rice, mashed potatoes with ground beef and green beans, chicken coconut curry with veggies and rice, spaghetti... You can do so much with a dehydrator. We learned a lot and some meals were better than others, but overall I really liked my food. It takes a lot of time, cutting up vegetables, making sauces, getting everything cycled through 8-ish hours of dehydrating, packaging the different elements together, but it was worth it for the taste and better nutrition. The total cost wasn't a lot different but I think overall it's a little less than buying pre-prepared everything. I did also supplement most of my boxes at grocery stores for snacks and lunch stuff." 


"Get the app "Overdrive" and a library card for access to lots of free audiobooks and ebooks. You log in with your card number and any ebook or audiobook your library owns can be "checked out" remotely and downloaded directly to your phone so it's even available on airplane mode.

Swim as often as possible. It doesn't take long to take a dip, it feels so good, and it's a great way to experience your surroundings, not just walk through them. 

Make bonfires often (when safe) and invite other hikers to come over and join you. Especially when the mosquitoes are bad!

Spend a night at Evolution Lake in the Sierras if you can. And take at least one on-trail zero!

You become able to do the trail in the process of doing it. 30-mile days sound crazy now, but when you just walk all day, that becomes a really doable distance. You will build up the mental and physical strength to keep going as you go, you don't need to have it all in the beginning. 

Being with other people is REALLY helpful. For enjoyment, for safety, for pushing through and staying motivated."

Pippi Longstocking

Backpacking Experience
Started backpacking about 10 years ago at the beginning of highschool. Since then did quite a few trips from two days to two weeks. Before the trail had never hiked more than 17 miles in one day with a full pack

Didn't have time to train but runs and bikes regularly and was in good shape for hiking

July 4th from Rainy Pass. Went directly south instead of tagging the border.

Date Reached So. Kennedy Meadows  
October 8th

Hike Result
Successfully reached the southern terminus on Nov. 3rd


Pippi Longstocking was finishing up a post-graduate internship in Nepal when Grahamps, one of her college friends, managed to convince her to join him on the PCT. They started from Rainy Pass and went south directly from there, taking about 4 weeks to finish Washington, 2.5 weeks covering Oregon, and the remaining 2.5 months in California. Pippi and Grahamps were lucky to have some friends and family meet them on different sections of the trail, and they also enjoyed meeting other SoBo hikers on the way. Pippi’s favorite sections of trail were (in order from N to S) Glacier Peak Wilderness, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Goat Rocks, Three Sisters, and the High Sierras. She loved being in the mountains all day, sleeping under the stars every night, meeting other hikers, and being disconnected from off-trail stresses.


"Overall, I was happy to hike the trail with a friend. Fortunately, Grahamps and I had done a lot of hiking together in the past and knew that our hiking styles and personalities would be relatively compatible. There are numerous benefits to hiking with a partner; it’s safer, you can share some gear, it helps prevent loneliness, and it’s neat to share such an amazing adventure with someone else. However, there can also be many challenges; people have different hiking paces, it can be hard to stick together if one person gets injured, and being with the same person every day for 2650 miles could be a little annoying. Before starting the trail with a partner, make sure your hiking styles are compatible and have a frank discussion about what to do if hiking together isn’t quite working out. Maybe plan to hike apart for a week or two so that you can experience what it’s like to be on the trail alone."


"Like many other PCT hikers, we decided to make the day trip to go up Mt. Whitney. We stashed some of our food and gear in the bear box at the Crabtree campsite to lighten our loads, as is common practice amongst thru-hikers attempting Whitney. Unfortunately, when we returned later that day, we found that someone had stolen our tarp (our only shelter), a thermarest air mattress, and a few other smaller items. Luckily there was a backcountry ranger at the Crabtree station who loaned us a tent and sleeping pad to use for the night, which was quite necessary since it got down to the single digits F. We were very surprised and disappointed to have this happen; previously, we had had only positive encounters with others on the trail and had perhaps become too trusting of other hikers. We had to hike out to the nearest town and spent a few days and a lot of money replacing our gear before we could get back on trail. However, even though we had some bad luck, I was very heartened by the reaction of the other PCT and JMT hikers and trail-angels in the area who offered their support and even donated some of their own gear to help us get back on track. Unexpected obstacles do happen on the trail, but in general, the good always manages to outweigh the bad, and there will always be other people willing to lend a hand."


"Honestly I didn’t really like So Cal. After coming through such amazing scenery in the High Sierras, I found the desert to be a huge disappointment. I wasn’t very interested in the scenery, didn’t like the dryness and seemingly perpetual wind, and was ready for the trail to be over. To ease the boredom, I relied heavily on audiobooks and podcasts, but the days still felt incredibly monotonous. Just south of Wrightwood we ran into 3 other SoBos whom we had hiked with earlier in Nor Cal. Hiking with others made the days go by a bit faster, so we opted to stick with them for the final days of the trail. There are, of course, PCTers who do like the desert, but unless you’re one of those people, you will have to rely heavily on willpower to persevere through the desert. Hiking with friends through So Cal definitely helps."


"Take the time to enjoy the best parts of the trail (even if it means putting in hard miles in the “boring” sections so that you can take it a bit easy in the more beautiful sections). Side trips and detours can also be worth an extra few days of hiking. I highly recommend side trips in the Sierras to climb Half Dome and Mt. Whitney.

The trail can be exhausting and uncomfortable. Your body gets tired, your mind gets tired, and sometimes, all you want is a fresh salad, a warm shower, and a soft bed. But trust me, all of the pain and discomfort is worth it when you get to the end and can feel the satisfaction of completing such a difficult journey. Focus on the positives to help you get through the difficulties. Set small goals for yourself so that you have something to motivate you each day and can feel as though you are accomplishing something.

Treat your body well. Stretching every night can help prevent injuries. If you feel an injury starting to form, reduce miles or take a few days of rest to let your body heal. Give yourself good fuel; a lot of people revert to eating almost nothing but candy and junk foods, but my body always felt much better when I filled it with healthier trail foods."

Candy Cane

Backpacking Experience
Backpacking since birth, but before the trail had never packed solo, or for more than 11 consecutive days, or over 12 miles per day.

Generally athletic, for 2 months hiked a couple 13ers and walked to work 1-2 days a week (20mi total). Felt very prepared.

Harts Pass to the border July 6th, then south on the PCT w/ 3 other hikers. 

Hike Result
Got really sick and headed home at S Lake Tahoe


Candy Cane was working as a physical therapist assistant as well as at Neptune Mountaineering before deciding that her life needed an overhaul. She planned the trip in two months and hit the trail. Middle and southern Washington were difficult for her due to shin splints. They healed and she got through Oregon. She got sick on trail, rested for a week with family, then attempted to head back out, only to get sick again. She decided she needed to listen to her body and take time for a full recovery which meant leaving the rest of the trail for another time. She hitched back to South Lake Tahoe and found a mother and son who offered her a ride to Oakland the next day. 


"Leaving the trail was the single hardest decision I have ever made for myself. This hike was all about me. I upended my life for this trip. I felt so many emotions, healed so much, forgave so much, learned so much about myself, met so many incredible people and made so many friends along the way. I didn't want to stop short of my goal of walking to Mexico and feel like I had yet again failed at something. I struggled with shin splints through southern Washington which was difficult and painful but manageable. When I got the flu in Oregon I couldn't even sit up in my tent. I contacted family to let them know I might be in trouble. Family rescued me on trail and I slept for a week straight, unable to eat and barely able to drink anything. I attempted to get back on trail. I was so depleted and my body so sick in so many ways I couldn't walk a mile without sitting to rest. I decided to honor the promise I made myself at 18 when I vowed to never push myself so hard that I sustained lasting damage to my body again. Advice I would give others in the same situation is listen to your body. Yes, the trail is a huge suffer fest. It's painful. But it shouldn't be so painful every day that you aren't having fun anymore. The trail will always be there. You can finish it another time. Reach out to people for support. They will be there for you. People you hardly know will be there for you. You have so much support. You just have to ask for it. "


"I think as women we tend to underestimate our ability levels. Know yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses. You know yourself best. Hear other people’s advice, but make decisions based on what you think is best for you. I took to heart everyone else’s terror regarding the snow and lack of melt before I left and thought I was going to die. With my experience, knowledge, and comfort with snow travel it ended up not being an issue at all and I never even used my microspikes. This is not to say that snow or mountains or other potentially dangerous situations should be taken lightly, but again, you know yourself best, so make decisions based on what your experience and comfort level lead you towards. Also, bring a pee bandana. You will want it."


"Northern Washington was surreal. The mountains were so different from the mountains in Colorado. The snow was a nonissue for me, although I was fully prepared for it. The scariest part was the “rainforest”. The trail was so overgrown and I was in the first group of people on the trail so the branches and vines were still completely covering the trail. While it was sometimes physically difficult to push and kick my way through the overgrowth, my main hurdle was psychological. I have a phobia of snakes. I have never allowed it to limit my outdoor exploration, but they are something that I factor in when doing a pro/ con list. Not being able to see the trail, my feet, or animals that might be lying in wait for me was hugely taxing both mentally and emotionally. That being said, I pushed through that fear because the views were unbelievable and so was Washington as a whole." 


"Have fun! Find beauty and be grateful for something every day. Yes you are in pain, yes you are hungry, yes you are more exhausted than you ever imagined. This is your life. This is your adventure. Live it. Love it.

Take pictures every chance you get. Take pictures of the amazing people you meet along the way, even if they are all candids. Everything. You will want to look back on them and each one will have so much beauty and be so amazing 3 months after your trip. You will remember so much from each picture.

Tennis balls are a great, lightweight way to roll out tight, sore muscles and feet. I highly recommend bringing one. 

You can do this! This is your journey. Do what is best for you."


Backpacking Experience

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.
October 22nd

Hike Result
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.


"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’…"


"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. "


“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.”