(1) Where are you from?
Born Newport Beach, California. Grew up on a small farm on a hill in Yorba Linda, California until I was 10 then moved to a suburb in Irvine, CA. Moved to Spokane, WA for college, then moved to Seattle directly afterwards.
(2) What day did you start?
(3) What day did you finish?
(4) Do you have a trail name?
(5) If so, where did it come from?
I was dubbed 'Eric the Red' on the second day of the trail because I was getting annoying nosebleeds. I shortened it because the real Erik the Red spelled his name with a K and I'm an anti Eric-with-a-K guy. I liked it for a few reasons:
1. My girlfriend I was away from while on trail has bright red hair and the name reminded me of her.
2. I was cleanshaven in the beginning but I knew when my beard grew out it would be a bright red and the name would be more apropos in the future.
3. I never was a nickname guy and red seemed like a simple name.
4. I am a big fan of the Minnesota Vikings and of Viking culture in general. I've been to Iceland and England and Norway while travelling.
5. Morgan Freeman's character "Red" in the Shawshank Redemption is my favorite character in that movie.
(6) What did you dream of when things weren’t going well?
I had intense cravings for real food and motel beds and showers. As such I mightve stayed in more motels (and spent more money) than anyone else on trail. I'm not a big outdoors guy in general so taking a shower was a big deal for me.
(7) Did you experience anything miraculous?
Trail magic was sometimes offered at extremely opportune times.
(8) Any memorable encounters with the elements, or wildlife?
42 mile day in the pouring rain on Mt. Hood and terrified of the night noises.
(9) Think back to your “pre-hike self.” Now think of yourself here at the end. Has anything changed?
I weighed 241 lbs pretrail and ended at 189, a loss of 52 pounds. I also took a physical immediately pretrail and immediately aftertrail, the blood test differences are incredible. I was diagnosed with steatohepatitis after the first physical and it was gone afterwards. All my numbers (cholesterol, liver enzymes, etc) were way above the healthy range and now they are all right in the middle of healthy.
The biggest difference is all the knowledge I gained from listening to audiobooks throughout the trail. I listened to books for probably 97% of my time hiking and ended up finishing 71 whole books. If you want to see a list of the books I read check out the audiobook updates I posted on my trail instagram @epctrail. After reading so many, I've been inspired to write my own book about the business idea/learning method I was working on pre-trail with the PCT playing a large cameo.
(10) Now that you are off the trail, what do you miss most about it?
I'll start by saying that Im not an outdoors guy and I really truly missed all of the comforts of society, I was inspired to do the trail because I wanted to listen to audiobooks, get in shape and my best friend from college "Bard" has a terribly cruel disease called Huntington's disease that runs in his family. It's like alzheimers, ALS and parkinsons combined, you deteriorate both physically and mentally and it's also hereditary. He grew up watching his grandma with the disease and his mother (a single mom) was just diagnosed.. meaning that he and his identical twin brother both have a 50% chance of also having the disease. He is the one that is outdoorsy, not me. Understandably, he was in a YOLO mindset and we supported each other throughout the trail. Hiked with him for around 95% of it.
That said, I will not miss trail life at all. It was very difficult for me and I was prone to complaining. What I will miss is the sense of accomplishment of meeting your hiking goal after giving 100% effort during the day. The sense of productivity you have while accomplishing the day's goal (say 20 to 30 miles) is hard to replicate while you're off trail. It's a really good feeling and I think post-trail depression stems from no longer having this feeling after constantly feeling it for so long.
(11) Before you started, what were you most afraid of?
I was afraid of wild animals (especially at night) and, honestly, I was afraid that I would get a stupid injury in the first few days ontrail and be forced to sulk back home and feel like a pussy. I had never been on a multi-day backpacking trip before but have had plenty of injuries through a rugby and football career. I'm reminded of a Teddy Roosevelt quote right now: It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
(12) Now that you are finished, what are you most afraid of?
I had a decent amount of confidence before the trail, but the confidence meter has definitely shot upwards. I'll always be afraid of open water (a deep-seated phobia) but society doesn't scare me in the least right now.
(13) What’s the difference between life on the trail and life off the trail?
I'm finding it much harder to be a "self-starter" offtrail than I did while I was ontrail. Simply not having the option to be lazy (I have to hike 40 miles in the next two days or I'm going to starve to death... I have to make it to Canada in 200 miles in 2 weeks or I'm going to freeze to death) is a great motivator. I wish there was some way to replicate a deadline like this so I could find it easier to be productive offtrail.
(14) Would you like to add anything else?
Everyone should do something like this. Leave your comfort zone and challenge yourself.