(1) Where are you from?
I am from Santa Ana, California.
(2) What day did you start?
My start date was on the 20th of April.
(3) What day did you finish?
The day I finished was October 5th
(4) Do you have a trail name?
My trail name is Squirtle (like the Pokémon).
(5) If so, where did it come from?
My trail name came from the fact that I was carrying around a small plush animal of Squirtle. Another hiker also said that I looked like him because I was wearing all blue and my pack at that time was huge, which was supposed to be my shell.
(6) What did you dream of when things weren’t going well?
When I was having a tough time with the hike, there wasn’t necessarily a go-to thought or mantra for me. I would just try and focus on the positive aspects of my experience. I would think about how lucky I was to be out in nature for 5 months and also having the opportunity to be where ever I was at the time.
(7) Did you experience anything miraculous?
Many of my experiences with trail magic were amazing. Before this hike, I had never even heard of trail magic. When I was greeted with a free root beer float at a trailhead after hiking in the sun all day, I was blown away with how awesome people can be. The best trail magic would have had to of been the spaghetti dinner that was the day before going into town via Kearsarge Pass. It was even better because the other people I was hiking with and I were all out of food. We had been rationing a bit and we show up at an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner with a campfire and everything. Thank you so much to the people who did that for us and every other hiker that passed by in the several days you were doing trail magic.
(8) Any memorable encounters with the elements, or wildlife?
The most memorable encounter with the elements would have to be the last 4 days of hiking. After hiking past Rainy Pass in Washington, we encountered snow. I was not too familiar with hiking in these conditions, but I learned quickly. Between waking up to a pair of frozen trail runners and learning how much I appreciate using a synthetic sleeping bag, there were many memorable lessons taught to me by this unforgiving element.
(9) Think back to your “pre-hike self.” Now think of yourself here at the end. Has anything changed?
When thinking back to where my mind was before the hike, I had plenty of doubts. Was I going to be able to complete the hike? Was I going in way over my head? Was I going to be prepared with all the right gear? What am I really capable of?
Now that I have completed the hike and I look at where I am now, questions like this don’t pop in my mind. I really feel like I am capable of anything I want to do. If I want something bad enough, then I can do it.
(10) Now that you are off the trail, what do you miss most about it?
Now that I am looking back to my time on trail, what I miss most is the sense of adventure and discovery. I loved knowing that I was going to go somewhere new under, my own physical power. I also miss the amazing people that I was lucky enough to meet along the way. You will not be forgotten.
(11) Before you started, what were you most afraid of?
Before I started I was dealing with an injury that I was afraid would have kept me from doing the hike all together. I broke my right fibula a month before my original start date. I was in a cast for 4 weeks and then was told that I should either be in a cast for another 4 weeks or use a walking boot. I opted for the walking boot. When mid-April came around, I decided that it had been long enough and started walking in a normal shoe. A couple days later I was on the trial. My greatest fear was that it would rebreak while hiking and I would have to quit the trail.
(12) Now that you are finished, what are you most afraid of?
Now that I have finished the trial, I am most afraid that I will have a difficult readjustment back to everyday life. So far it hasn’t been too difficult
(13) What’s the difference between life on the trail and life off the trail?
The difference between life on trail and off trail is that when you are living off trail, there are many more things to worry about or keep track of. There are more deadlines and people you must call. There are also far more distractions off trail like television and advertisements. All of these things seem a bit ridiculous now. Also, getting around all the time by car seems like a strange concept to me. I’m sure that the readjustment will take some time. However, seeing things differently has given me the opportunity to make some changes in my life. For this I am grateful.