1. I’m 25. I live in Arizona. I’ve been working as an editor but quit my job to do the PCT.
2. I did not grow up hiking. I went on a handful of hikes and camping trips as a kid. I found hiking arduous and not fun. I’ve been fishing once and managed to hook a fish through its eyeball. That ended it for me. For most of my life I didn’t see the appeal of nature.
3. I’ve been hiking and backpacking for 2 years. I’ve been on a hundred or so hikes, mostly by myself, and 12 backpacking trips total. Two of those backpacking trips were solo.
4. The longest mileage I’ve done on a backpacking trip is 16 miles.
5. I’ve never seen a rattlesnake, a bear or a mountain lion. I’ve seen two nonvenomous snakes, massive muddy bear prints and heard a bobcat. (They don’t sound like what you think they sound like.)
6. I’ve only ever briefly walked on snow in the Rockies and Chiricahuas. I’ve never used an ice axe or micro spikes. This is one of the highest snow years for the PCT on record. I will have to learn quickly.
7. I am afraid of basically everything. Hiking has, in many ways, been a practice for me of putting my fears in context.
8. For example, I am afraid of heights. I have spent most of my life avoiding panic-inducing heights because my body tends to freeze. This year I have been actively putting myself in scary, high, scrambling/climbing situations to try to learn my way past it. It’s been working pretty well.
9. I hate bridges and walking on logs.
10. I have wide feet and tried on and tested about 20 pairs of shoes (yes, including Altras) trying to find one that would work for the PCT. I ended up with a pair of Inov8s. We’ll see how that goes.
11. I’ve been married for eight years. My husband is staying home and I’m hiking the trail solo. It’s the first time both of us will be alone.
12. My biggest fear for the trail is that I’ll let myself get too afraid of the idea of something and I’ll quit. It’s also part of why I’m going out there. I want to show myself that my fears don’t have to steer the ship.