Here are my thoughts, realizations, feelings, lessons etc after hiking the first 100 miles of the PCT as a sexual assault survivor.
The fun facts
Starting with the fun stuff.
I’ve seen 2 rattle snakes, 3 bunnies, 3 garden snakes, 1 frog, and countless lizards and butterflies. And some kangaroo mice someone said they were called?
So far I haven’t had any blisters or hot spots.
I’ve taken 3 zero’s (if you haven’t read my blog “double zero on the PCT make sure you do!)
I’ve eaten countless ramen and ramen bombs, chocolate bars, candy, etc. As a personal trainer I’m dying with how much unhealthy food I’m intaking, but when else in your life can you eat basically anything you want and still lose weight?
I am on my third pair of shoes trying to find what works for me.
It truly is the people
I’ve also met some really amazing people.
If anyone hasn’t seen Elina’s “It is the people” YouTube video. Go check it out after reading this blog.
Most of you know why I’m hiking the PCT by now. But if you don’t know; I am hiking to work through the trauma of sexual assaults and with that I am also raising awareness and donations for sexual assault survivors.
Now with saying that… These people. These hikers. I need to say thank you.
I haven’t felt unsafe yet around the hikers, hitches, or trail angels I’ve met. So, if I have met you (especially if you are male) then I need to thank you. As I, a sexual assault survivor who is relearning that not all humans are bad. Thank you. Thank you for being good and kind and making me feel safe. Whether it was in a quick exchange as we hiked by each other, we had a conversation somewhere, or took my photo, or we camped in close proximity, or hiked together a day or multiple days. Thank you.
I feel safer out here hiking the PCT as a solo female survivor then I do in society.
A few people I’ve met that I feel the need to shout out are; Dave, Tom, Jeremiah, Forklift, Orion, Twinkletoes and his tramily, the Asylum tramily, Butterscotch, Kungfu, Bill and Ty, Carol, Emmaline, Lifesaver, Tanner, Noodles, Hiccup, Laura, the UK couple, Jessica and Jessie, Morgan and Honey, Micheal, Sarah, and if I missed you it’s because I couldn’t possibly name every wonderful person I’ve met so far.
Now some things I’ve learned about the Desert
The. Desert. Is. Hot. My first thought is well no shit Alyssa of course it is. I wasn’t prepared. I tried my best to mentally and physically prepare myself, but until I was in it. I had no idea.
The heat is relentless. The desert tries to swallow you up and spit you out.
All you think about is water, shade, and praying a breeze passes you so you can feel cooler for a moment. But Water…. Back to the water. My worst water moment was when I was 12 miles away from water with only 1 litre left. Absolutely brutal. My longest water carry was 18 miles. Dry camping is excruciating on your mind because all you want to do is chug your water in the middle of the night because you are so incredibly thirsty, but you need to be stronger then your mind and body telling you to do this. Because you need that last 1.5 litres to get to a water course the next day that’s still 6 miles away.
My feet are constantly sore.
You must massage your feet (and other muscles) and clean your feet everyday to keep them happy and healthy. My feet have also already swelled up a couple sizes more then I usually am… Usually I’m a size 6. I’m wearing a size 7.5 now.
Your feet health are the most important for a successful thru hike. That’s why as I’m writing this I’m on my next set of zero days to wait out the pain on the top of my foot. I always am reminding myself that this is a marathon, not a sprint. I will finish this thru hike. Who cares if it takes me longer then I wanted.
Rest. Rest. Rest. Take rests during the day when the heat is too much in a shaded spot. Take rests in town’s to heal up overuse injuries. Take rests and take your feet out of your shoes! I am getting better at this action called “resting”. Usually I’m the person who wants to GO GO GO. So that is something the desert has taught me.
Thoughts, Feelings and Realizations
Healing doesn’t happen in a straight line- some days I am feeling on top of the world and I think I made a huge breakthrough in my trauma. And then the next day it’s all I can think about. However, I know that I am healing.
The sun still rises even with the pain- this is true about both the physical and emotional pain I am in. Everyday I am sore. And I know everyday to come during this journey I will be sore. Some days less than others, but it will always be there.
As a survivor this is also true in my daily life. I still get scared being on trail sometimes, and every hitch I get. But I am not alone in those thoughts. I am doing this for all survivors including myself, and sometimes that is where I draw my strength from if I can’t find it from within me.
I am stronger then I think- almost every day I have thought to myself that I am not going to make it to the next water source or campground or up this mountain or down that mountain. And every day I end up doing it. My resilience is building and becoming stronger with every step I take on this journey. So after over 5 million of those steps after 2,650 miles of walking I should feel like wonder woman right? I guess I’ll find out.
I’m remembering who I am- I’m uncovering that person who was stuck under a giant mountain of rocks hiding from the world. For years, I hid and started to become bitter and hateful and I stopped thinking how beautiful life was and how the little things in life, those little moments, make life feel absolutely invigorating. Being on the PCT for only a couple weeks has started to uncover that person. It’s now the little moments that keep me going on the PCT. The little acts of kindness from strangers along the way, the messages from friends and family or even strangers cheering me on at home, the slightest breeze on a mountain, a smile from a hiker passing by, the sweetness of a piece of candy I eat while in a shaded spot taking a rest, the sounds of birds, frogs, owls etc.
I love the little moments of life, and the PCT is helping me remember that.
What is your favourite little moment of life that you’ve experienced lately?
Thank you for reading!