Coconut (Jessica)

Mile 2,591


(1) Where are you from?

Born and raised in the SF Bay Area, but have been living in Southern California for the past 8 years. I’ll be moving back to the Bay soon!

(2) What day did you start?

June 4th

(3) What day did you finish?

November 4th – My hike was 5 months long, but I skipped miles in both Southern and Northern California, so it wasn’t a true thru hike.

(4) Do you have a trail name?


(5) If so, where did it come from?

A couple days into the trail, my coconut oil exploded. It got all over my pack so I smelled like coconut for weeks. People would walk by and say, “Mmmm what’s that smell?”

(6) What did you dream of when things weren’t going well?

When things weren’t going well, it was almost always due to foot pain or the rain/snow. I tried to think of all the other people that have gone through the same type of discomfort, and how they persevered. I reminded myself that a lot of people have taken long treks and survived worse which helped my own situation seem like less of a big deal. Not in a polly-anna-ish way, though. It’s important to be clear about what’s happening and respond appropriately!

(7) Did you experience anything miraculous?

Yes!! The kindness of strangers, the peace of the wilderness, and a far greater grit then I knew I had.

(8) Any memorable encounters with the elements, or wildlife?

I learned that bears make a big ruckus! Just south of Lake Tahoe, I heard a huge noise coming from a grassy hill next to the trail. I saw a bear cub barreling towards me like a gigantic St. Bernard puppy. It took a while for him to see me, but when he did, he got scarred and clumsily ran back up the hill. Such a cute butt, too.

(9) Think back to your “pre-hike self.” Now think of yourself here at the end. Has anything changed?


I’m more protective of who I spend my time with now. Of course, it’s important to have fun and lighthearted relationships with other hikers, but I came to realize how much the people I spent time with affected me, and I didn’t want to share my hike with just anybody!

I have more clarity about who I am, what I want to do with my life, and what’s important to me. I realized that I was allowing myself to be pulled in too many directions before, and now just focus on the things that move me forward.

I used to spend time everyday changing the way I looked to be more beautiful (hair, nails, clothes, etc.), which I don’t think I’ll go back to. I’m confident now that people will like me just the way I am.

Just a general sense of being comfortable with myself, and being more fearless.

(10) Now that you are off the trail, what do you miss most about it?

I miss the comradery of the hikers and being outside every day. I will never get tired of watching the transition from night to day to night again!

(11) Before you started, what were you most afraid of?

River crossings & back country injuries.

(12) Now that you are finished, what are you most afraid of?

Same, but I’d also add surprise snow storms!

(13) What’s the difference between life on the trail and life off the trail?

On trail, it’s really easy to feel close to humanity, and a connection with nature. For me, there is a clarity about what it means to be human and where I fit in the world. Off trail, I feel like our culture is moving really fast in a bunch of directions, with less clarity and closeness. That said, I love people and hot showers and clean laundry, and am happy to be re-engaging with our current society again.

(14) Would you like to add anything else?

I fully recognize how fortunate I am to be able to take time off work and do this hike. Taking this time is best thing I have ever done for myself, and hopefully will allow me to show up better for the people around me. Thanks and much love!