Advice From a Hiker Who Finished the Pacific Crest Trail

We sent Amanda “Zuul” Jameson to the PCT to share what it’s really like to live the life of an end-to-ender.
Avatar:
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
8
We sent Amanda “Zuul” Jameson to the PCT to share what it’s really like to live the life of an end-to-ender.
Amanda Jameson finished her PCT thru-hike on September 29, 2016. Photo by Louisa Albanese

Amanda Jameson finished her PCT thru-hike on September 29, 2016. Photo by Louisa Albanese

You get the brain trust at the beginning. Everybody wants everyone to make it, and everyone’s talking and sharing info. There’s a lot of camaraderie out there.

I found a tennis ball in a hiker box around mile 300. At night, I’d stretch and roll my muscles out with it. I still have it.

I found myself saying all the time, “That’s a problem for tomorrow’s Amanda.” Oh, man, there’s going to be a 20-mile water carry? That’s a problem for tomorrow’s Amanda.

Do you need a trail family to make it? No. Is it really, really nice to see people during the day and have people to talk to and camp with? Absolutely.

You see people and you say, “I’ll see you at lunch,” and you never see them again.

Pain becomes a low-grade constant. But once you start walking and your endorphins kick in, you can pretty much ignore it.

There were many points where I was like, “This is rough and I just want to go to sleep and tomorrow will be different. It won’t necessarily be better, but it will be different.”

Sleep is the great reset button.

You think, “It can’t get better than this,” and then you round another corner and it does.

Northern California will teach you how to be alone—and how to be alone with yourself. You are stuck with you.

You’ve got one decision in everything you come up against: You handle it or you quit. I chose to handle it.

There are things you do every day that can injure you and end your hike. Half of any thru-hike is just luck.

On trail, the temptation is always to compare yourself to other people. “Yeah, I made 25 miles today, but this person made 38, so I must be a terrible hiker.” But no, I’m just a different hiker. They made it to Canada and so did I.

My heart did a couple of flip-flops when I first saw Monument 78 and the terminus, but other than that it was just stillness. Quiet. Until I broke out the inflatable T-Rex costume I’d carried 80 miles from Stehekin to do a celebratory dance.

Best not to take yourself too seriously.