I grew up hiking. My parents took me on my first overnight backpacking trip when I was six years old, and we returned to Colorado together every summer after that for the next ten years. These were short trips—maybe four days on an out-and-back trail—but they permanently connected “summer” and “vacation” and “where would I rather be?” to “MOUNTAINS.”
The long trails have been on my radar since college, when I read A Walk in the Woods and made an aspirational purchase of a book called Hiking the Triple Crown. I vaguely considered an Appalachian Trail hike as a post-Peace-Corps plan—I’d basically been “camping” in a mud hut in Senegal for two years, so I figured five more months would be a piece of cake—but moving to California and starting grad school took precedence.
So my first thru-hike was the John Muir Trail in 2012, 210 miles from Yosemite Valley to the top of Mount Whitney. I hiked it with my boyfriend Andrew and our friend Kalia. We went very slowly and our packs were too heavy and there was a surprise side trip to the emergency room in Mammoth, but it was amazing because helloooooo Range of Light.
Andrew and I have done other long hikes since then—a loop through King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, the Collegiate Loop in Colorado—but this is the big one, for us. We’re both lucky enough to be in a position to step away from our careers for six months and do this big crazy thing that we’ve both wanted to do for years.
The plan is to walk northbound from the Mexican border starting on April 8, 2015, and make it to the Canadian border by the end of September(ish). That’s 2660 miles over six months, averaging about 20 miles a day.
What. the. shit.
The numbers still don’t sound any less insane than they did before I decided that, yes, this is something I’m actually going to attempt. But right now, this is what I want to be doing more than anything else: waking up in the woods (or the desert, or the mountains) and walking all day and then doing the same thing again the next day and the next day and the next.