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How I Decided to Hike the Pacific Crest Trail

My Journey from Desire to Reality

By Niche VeraldiPublished 7 years ago 3 min read
Top Story - August 2017
I'm not as cool as I look.

The first time I had ever experienced camping, I was six years old. I was with my family and we stayed at a state park somewhere below Houston, Texas. We played football, climbed trees, made s'mores, and slept in a gigantic seven person tent. In the mornings, I would steal Pop Tarts out of the trunk and drink cold Gatorade from an ice cooler. If we had to use the bathroom, no worries! The fully air-conditioned bathroom of the service center was a car ride away. That was what camping was to me, in the summer of my sixth year of existence.

Fast forward to April 21, 2017. I'm 24 years old and on my first day backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail. I thought I had trained for this in the harrowing hills of Fort Worth, Texas. The hills whose elevation of 1,240 feet I had thought was a significant jump up from my normal elevation of 45 feet in Houston. It's now 9 AM, I've been hiking since seven, and I've already hiked nearly nine miles. In this time period, I've developed two huge blisters on my feet, I've been stung by a bee, and I've climbed up a 1,250 foot mountain that I wasn't expecting to cross my first day. I stop and touch my face only to have a terrible realization cross my brain: I don't have my glasses on. In the panic of being stung by a bee, I threw them off and hiked nearly a mile without realizing what had happened.

During my time hiking back to get those glasses, that image of a six-year-old me sitting at a campfire eating a Pop Tart starts playing in my head. I'm silently cursing that little kid out, "You wouldn't like camping if you knew how hard this was. Why did I even come out here?"

Around mile 400

That story may make it seem like I had decided to hop on to the Pacific Crest Trail with about two weeks of thought. In reality, I had been planning this adventure for nearly two years.

I had first heard about long-distance thru-hiking when a neighbor of mine told me about how he hiked the Appalachian Trail. The idea of being self-sustaining sounded really appealing to me, so I researched it. After a few days of research, I concluded that it was too difficult for me to do and went about my everyday life.

Then, a few months later, I saw a YouTube video from a hiker named Redbeard about his hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. It looked beautiful. It started in the California desert and was longer than the Appalachian Trail, but for some reason I couldn't stop thinking about it. I watched documentaries about the trail, YouTube vlogs of hikers on trail, and read countless blog posts about the misadventures of everyone who stepped foot on the trail. I was obsessed. So I vowed then, in 2014, to hike the trail.

A promotional sticker for my Pacific Crest Trail documentary

Two years later, I found myself directly in the midst of an Indiegogo fundraising campaign to support not only my hike but the documentary I decided to film while on trail. My producer-fiance was helping me with the final push of my campaign, and before I knew it, we raised all of the money I needed to go on the trail. I was over-the-moon ecstatic.

Let's go back to April 21, 2017. I find my glasses laying on the side of a rock with a sizable drop-off next to it. After hiking back a mile, I stop to grab some more water and wipe off my glasses. During this rest stop, I'm looking out over the side of a mountain at a huge mountain range with hikers coming out of a valley. I couldn't help but laugh at my situation.

"Why did I even come out here? For moments like this."

solo travel

About the Creator

Niche Veraldi

An indie filmmaker, graphic designer, and wanderer.

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    Niche VeraldiWritten by Niche Veraldi

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