Sparrow (Debbie)

Mile 2,591


(1) Where are you from?

I’m from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

(2) What day did you start? 

I started on April 28th.

(3) What day did you finish?

I finished on October 3rd!

(4) Do you have a trail name? 

Yes! My trail name is Sparrow! 

(5) If so, where did it come from? 

It has a few meanings....I would whistle to the birds on trail in the mornings and see if they would sing back.  Also, I kept changing the lyrics of songs to fit a situation on the trail-my favorite was changing Europe’s “The Final Countdown” to the final switchback:) 

I even got a chance to pull a Captain Jack Sparrow and fill a friends fuel canister when the gas station employees gave them grief for not having a ‘California approved gas canister’.

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

When I was having a hard time on trail, I’d think of friends struggling with issues at home, and I’d dedicate the next mile or miles to them. I’d tell myself “You think this is hard? Think of what they are going through.” And it always put my struggle in perspective, and it always helped me find the strength, to hike for them.

(7) Did you experience anything miraculous?

Every day. The natural beauty of the trail itself was miraculous. Just sitting on trail and watching wind blow the mist rising from a lake on an early morning. That was miraculous. Watching the sunset from the top of a ridge. Looking out over a sea of clouds, because we had climbed so high! That was miraculous. The generosity of complete strangers! People who would go out of their way to bring food to the trail, people who would offer rides to hikers. Things big and small, they all made such a difference. That, too was miraculous! 

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

I was pumping water from Timothy Lake and saw the water ripple as if something was under the water. So I stood up and watched and waited. After a minute I saw three river otters fishing and playing pop their heads up above water. One had a fish in his mouth and I watched him munch on his breakfast right across from me! It was amazing! They played around for a bit before swimming off, but it was brilliant! 

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

Yes! The time on trail gave me loads of time for self reflection. I realized how dedicated and determined I am.  I realized I’m tougher than I give myself credit for.

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

It’s funny, but I miss seeing how far I’ve come. At the end of a day on trail, it’s so easy to see, to quantify how far you’ve come. Everyday you see the small progress you’re making on achieving this huge goal.  

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

I was most afraid of hitchhiking-I had never hitchhiked before! 

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

I’m afraid I won’t be able to put into words how much this experience has meant to me. I’m afraid I won’t be able to sum up the experience of the last 5 months into anything meaningful to relate to my family and friends. I’m afraid I won’t be able to ever adequately thank everyone who helped me, who cheered me on, who sent me snacks, who took me in and gave me a place to sleep or to shower. It all meant the world to me!

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

There are only slight differences. There are miracles every day off trail, too! you just have to look a little closer or dig a little deeper or pause a little longer to glimpse the beauty. 

Also, sleeping in a bed! it’s great! Clean water at the touch of your hands! Brilliant! Bright lights at the flick of a switch! Amazing! Traveling at speeds of three days per hour! Awesome! 

Maybe I’ve been given new eyes to see the genius that’s around me everywhere, everyday.

(14) Would you like to add anything else?

Thank you for this opportunity to try to articulate my feelings about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I hope it makes sense-both to fellow hikers and to non-hikers alike.