32 days until kickoff

To follow along via email, scroll (all the way) down for the subscription box. You’ll get periodic updates filled with both woe and celebration. Not dissimilar to trail mix.


I’m excited. It’s finally here, sort of. The view from here is quite imposing, I can’t think of much else. Last week I finished my associate’s degree. Today was my last day at a job I’ve had for two years. The changes are beginning to feel stark. I’m not very anxious, although my heftiest fear is getting injured on the trail, and I give that fear a lot of attention. Injury is the reason most folks leave. The PCTA estimates a 20% thru-hike success rate. I often wake up thinking about that.

Thru-hiker veterans have mentally prepared me for bug swarms, shadeless desert stretches, sleepless nights, raw feet and a protesting body. They’ve also shared stories of generosity that restore one’s faith in humanity. Mental preparation is key, and finding an overarching reason to keep walking when miserable is essential. This is my rite-of-passage, I’ll walk to Canada until I get there.

A couple of years ago I was Googling things like “minimalist survival camping,” looking for someone in the military to train me, and calculating the cost of fuel to drive cross-country. I ultimately came across another thru-hikers blog and realized the Pacific Crest Trail fit the bill–less populated than the AT, and less desolate than the CDT.

Training. I walk the Stairmaster with a weighted pack, and go on walks with a weighted pack. If a family member walks into the kitchen they are often startled to see a figure in the doorway to the basement– doing calf-raises on the top step of the staircase. Thru-hiking veterans tell me lower miles in the desert will train us newbies. A 40 minute-per day workout is “enough”, with some longer days once a week.

I hope to update here once more before leaving by Amtrak for San Diego, on April 19th. Until then, I’ll be packing up food for a few resupply boxes, going to the dentist, skiing, and learning to self-arrest on a snowy mountain. Thank you all so much for the encouragement and support!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Eric Falk says:

    Rachel, I think it is great that you have the courage to undertake such a journey in life. I’m sure it will be one of your most cherished memories and subjects for conversations in the future. As I said before, trust your instincts at all times. If you sense the slightest bit concern, whether its from a person, wild animal or nature itself, go with your instinct; it will never let you down. I am so envious of you and wish you the best of luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rachel says:

      Eric, I have taken your advice to heart and promise to trust my gut. Thank you for the sendoff, support, and wise words. I truly appreciate it!


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