For context on dates, I always was a section hiker...or a LASHER (Long Ass Section Hiker). In the beginning, my friend that I started with, Rooster, and I began in the Mt. Whitney area (Cottonwood Pass) and intended to do about 1,200 miles on the trail. Because we were not concerned with our continuous footpath we had the freedom to develop our own itinerary throughout the summer. We woke up one morning in Burney, CA, decided the smoke was overwhelming, and unhealthy, and planned a trip to the coast. Over the next week we hitchhiked 500 miles to complete the Lost Coast Trail and to reconnect with the PCT in Ashland. Then we hiked to Canada and finished with about 1,500 miles, somewhat evenly divided between the three states.
(1) Where are you from?
I grew up in San Diego, California.
(2) What day did you start?
June 19, 2018
(3) What day did you finish?
October 5, 2018
(4) Do you have a trail name?
(5) If so, where did it come from?
A "shoey" is something I learned from some Australian friends. It is where the individual takes their show off, pours their beer into it, sings a song, and drinks the beer. We were in Mammoth on the Fourth of July, I met some Aussies, and got inspired to do one. It was not my first shoey, but the ~100miles through the Sierra provided for some different tasting notes.
(6) What did you dream of when things weren’t going well?
I most often would think of some of my favorite memories on trail, how much better things would be in just a few hours (or even minutes), and how this was still so much better of a lifestyle than anything else I could be doing.
(7) Did you experience anything miraculous?
The entire culture of the PCT is pretty miraculous. You are reminded of the good nature of people every day. It is hard to pinpoint one thing, but I would say every day I had at least one if not many moments where I was reminded why I was walking.
(8) Any memorable encounters with the elements, or wildlife?
So much wildlife! Seeing a mama bear and her cub was one of my favorites. Waking up to a mouse in front of my face was shocking. Deer encounters were frequent.
As far as the elements, both vivid memories were of heavy snow fall. The first snow we had was hard and icy on the Knife's Edge in Goat Rocks. A section that is built up as having some of the most beautiful views was the first time we were reminded that summer ends. The second was actually two hours after you took our photo. We got to the top of the climb after the portraits and were treated some clear, gorgeous sights of golden larches and massive peaks. Thirty minutes later we were in cold, windy snow that lasted until night. The following morning my socks were frozen solid.
(9) Think back to your “pre-hike self.” Now think of yourself here at the end. Has anything changed?
I think that anything that challenges you to go outside your comfort zone will help improve your character. This truth coincides with meeting amazing people that will also change who you are.
(10) Now that you are off the trail, what do you miss most about it?
I miss the freedom and the feeling it provided. Every day had a fulfilling, simple purpose. I think that once hikers accept the lifestyle it allows for them to become the best version of themselves. There's no room for BS out there and that's why you get so close with the people you hike with.
(11) Before you started, what were you most afraid of?
I was most afraid of the mental aspect. Not being able to fall into the rhythm of the hike.
(12) Now that you are finished, what are you most afraid of?
I am most afraid of not retaining the mindset I had on trail. The ability to live a lifestyle that avoids anxious and meaningless distractions from an otherwise peaceful, purpose-driven existence.
(13) What’s the difference between life on the trail and life off the trail?
A lot more people suck off the trail. But, life off trail is just more hectic. Never have I had a vacation like this where I could truly disconnect with what others were doing or with the person that I was before I started. It was like starting over.
(14) Would you like to add anything else?
I think it is important for people to know that anyone with a positive mindset can hike for this long. Yes some days will not be great but that will follow you in any lifestyle. These three and a half months felt far more fulfilling than the six months previous.