1) Where are you from?
Fort Collins, Colorado
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 did push ups every morning with my pack on to keep some of my upper body strength. This practice became rarer and rarer as time went on; the trail made me incredibly lazy about anything other than hiking.
6) What did you dream of when things weren’t going well?
I dreamt of home mostly. I thought about cheeseburgers, my dog, and being around girls my age (I'm 18, young for the trail).
7) Did you experience anything miraculous?
I almost died in a car crash, but came out of it scotch-free. I was sitting on the back of a convertible with my legs inside the car and the rest of my body outside. Eventually got tired of bugs slapping my face so I decided to sit on someones lap instead. Not 5 minutes later, we hit another car at about 40mph. If I had been sitting on top I would have been thrown out face-first over the windshield and died. Instead, I got a bloody nose from the airbag and walked away unhurt. Very sobering when I thought about how close I had come to death.
9) Think back to your “pre-hike self.” Now think of yourself here at the end. Has anything changed?
A lot has changed. The PCT opened up a whole new world of opportunity for me. I interacted with tons of people from all walks of life; many of whom live unconventional lifestyles that I wasn't exposed to in my "normal" high school life. I realized that there are many different ways to be happy and that I had previously held too narrow a definition of what success was. I no longer want to be normal. I want to explore as many facets of life as I can before I die. There are an infinite number of things to do, people to meet, places to go, ideas to think about. The trail has made that really clear to me.
10) Now that you are off the trail, what do you miss most about it?
I miss the people. I miss being with my friends all the time, every day. I miss the good vibes and kindness I received from trail angels, fellow hikers, and other strangers I met. It's hard to make so many great friends and then have them all suddenly disappear from your life at the terminus.
11) Before you started, what were you most afraid of?
I was afraid that the lifestyle would be miserable. I had no real idea how I would respond to trail life—starting the PCT was a huge leap of faith.
12) Now that you are finished, what are you most afraid of?
I am afraid of losing the person I became on the PCT. The trail changed me so much that I felt like I was really drifting away from who I was beforehand. The further I hiked, the more I felt as if I had two personas. I was part Matt (pre-trail me) and part Kickass (trail me). Currently, I live almost the same exact life as before the trail, and I'm afraid that I'll forget about Kickass amidst the familiarity of Matt's normal life.
13) What’s the difference between life on the trail and life off the trail?
On trail, you have freedom from things, while in normal life you have freedom to do things. The trail eliminates all the things that tie you down: school, work, difficult relationships, and other commitments. Normal life comes with all of those ties but allows you to do things other than walk. Now, I have the freedom to pick up hobbies, go to the gym, make money, and move in whichever direction I want. The trade-off is that I'm now enslaved to all the things previously mentioned. There's more I get to do, but also more I have to do.