Montain Ninja (Minji)

Mile 0


(1) Where are you from and how would you like to be identified?

I'm from Seoul, South Korea. I prefer to be named Minji. Even though i got trail name; mountain ninja, i could barely hear Ninja.

My pronouns are she and her.

(2) Thinking back to your “day-1 self,” what is going through your mind at the start?

anxiety, nervousness, racial isolation, excitation.

In Korea, there's big test like SATs in high school for university. we normally studied only for this big test.

it was similar nervous feeling with starting to PCT. I couldn't sleep well last night in the yard.

I was staying at famous trail angels(frodo and scout)'s house for last 2 days before heading to southern terminus.

it seems like frodo and scout had an orientation for hiker who's started to PCT next day at dinner.

they explained what do people prepare for; water, gear, emergency situation, LNT, attitude to others(thru-hikers or locals) and etc.

it made me double-check my gears. on the other hands, that orientation made me feel like it's real.


during staying at frodo and scout's house for 2 days, i realized that i'm the only asian.

it's first visit in america and long-term&distance travel in various culture. i usually traveled SE Asia and England. i didn't expect to feel like this at all. 

everyone was kind and looked nervous + excited like me. they can easily start to talk to each other and seems like english was their first language or comfortable language except for me.

even though my personality was outgoing, i didn't talked to people very much. but it just made me lonely at the beginning.

(after starting to hiking, i met amazing friends. So, it wasn't big deal on the whole trail)

one of the big reason was to escape from comfort zone(a.k.a. Mom's control zone).

i already fully feel free and am glad not to be under mom's zone. i was excited to do whatever i want. 

the fact that i had enough money and time made me confident.

(3) Do you feel ready?

Yes 70% No 30%

i should be ready even though i thought very a little delay 1 day. because i knew that i started quite late. So, there was no option for me.

(4) What are you most afraid of?

At the beginning, Water. 

There's not many water and i didn't bring water report. i just relied on guthhook's water point.

except for being worried about water, i had no worries, haha, it was so weird


(5) What are you most confident about?

Physical strength

i love running, doing workout and hiking. i didn't specially exercise for PCT but i normally do any workout once a day.

(6) Does anybody not want you to go?

Mom and Mom

My mom is really conservative person. she really doesn't like it whenever i went to park or tournament for workout.

she doesn't like my tanned skin. she always pushed me to live "normal" Korean woman's life.

she always wanted me to save money for marriage even i didn't have BF.

except for her, my dad seemed like giving up to control my decision. my normal-friends thought it was so minji's decision. 

my brother and ultimate frisbee friends supported me fully. (i have played ultimate frisbee for 5 years and still love to playing ultimate)

(7) What made you decide to take this hike?

i want to be independent and wonder my personality in zero-base; no family, friends, connections and need some time to step out from life.

i'm 29 year old and was living with my family in whole time. i always wanted to live by myself. but there's no reason to escape from home.

my university and workplace was in Seoul, My City. the older i am, the more trouble i have with my mom. 

our relationship was worse and worse. she didn't accept that i was adult and could make a decision by myself. i was looking for doing something completely apart from mom, a comfort zone.

i have working holiday visa in Australia. my plan was going to AU after finishing PCT. it was really great trial before living by myself.

i thought it's good time to know about myself in English cultured zone and different place. i wondered how did i survive and how did i make a relationships with people who had different background and language. 

last 1 year before coming to america, i have bad relationships with my mom, company and friends. i always doubted my decision because there's lot of trouble with people and myself. i started to be worried about myself, career and future.

i was distribution center analyst in Polo Ralph Lauren Korea's Supply Chain Team. there's good salary, reputation and welfare. but i was confused about my job with lots of stress. someday, i felt it wasn't life that i dreamed. i wrote what life i dreamed. the words were nature, independence, laugh, relax.

and then started to make a plan to hike PCT.

(8) What do you expect to get from it?

being myself who i want, being safe, making a smart decision.

actually, i just thought simply. be myself without thinking how do i look, don't push myself in dangerous situation.


(9) Have you ever done anything like this before?

No, it's my first long distance hiking. 

(and it's my first visit in america)

(10) What have you done to prepare?

money, time, courage

i used to search gears, resupply plan and each section.

it made me afraid of doing PCT because there's so many information and possibilities that something's happened.

So, i stopped to search and read blog or any post related to PCT and i stopped to follow facebook group " 2018 of PCT Class"

i started 7th May and worked until 23th April. i didn't want to be afraid of stop doing PCT with seeing negative post/information about PCT and 

stopped to compared with others who already started PCT or had fancy/ more expensive gears than i had.

(11) What are you looking forward to the most?

Trust about my decision, Confidence.

those two things were the most things what i really wanted. and i think i earned those :) 


(12) When/where did you leave the trail?

3th Oct: i started to turn back to the snoqualmie pass from 30 miles ahead.

5th Oct: i arrived at Snoqualmie pass. it took 2 days for coming back to town.

(13) What caused you to leave the trail?

bad weather

2th Oct, i got hit by huge-snowy storm above 5,500 ft by myself. for the first time, i felt in the most dangerous situation on the trail.

i didn't hike with others and just got panic facing with massive snowy-storm. i yelled in the air "help me, any god" thousand times.

found some flat place with frozen gears. everything was frozen due to rain. after setting tent, what i blew in my mind was THAT I DID MY BEST.

this thought made me heading back to town without regrets. 

there's two moments that i couldn't forget; 

one was to make eye-contact with rettina who's also heading back to town when i headed back.

i thought i was alone rettina and dominic were far from me and kept going. but they made same decision like me.

when i saw rettina, i was drying my all gears and we didn't talk anything for around 30 secs and then just hugged and cried.

can't explained the feeling at that moment but felt there's some deep connection between us.

the other was feeling that being proud of my achievement with crying lol

it was great feeling and i learned success can be defined in various way.

(14) Would you like to add anything else?

i was so lucky to meet and hike with AWESOME PEOPLE.

i'm so proud of hiking by myself and with people! 

but sometimes, i avoided hiking with others from Nocal or OR. i really wanted to achieve by myself. it was my mistake.

i should have let it be ( didn't avoid hiking with others). I should have did a favor/asked hikers to hike together in WA, especially, in dangerous conditions. i couldn't say "help" to be independent. it wasn't independent. it was... silly.

if i could turn back time, i wouldn't hesitated to say honestly my feeling/condition; i need some help, company to hike.