One year ago today on October 7, 2013, I completed my 2,663-mile hike from the border of Mexico and California, to Canada – along the Pacific Crest Trail. I’ve come to realise over the past year that there is no real ‘end’ to the trail; as it continues to remind me of the lessons I learned, and teach me about who I am, well beyond the day I said goodbye to the monument at the Northern Terminus.
I refer to the PCT as ‘The Trail’. For me, there has been no other pathway through life quite the same. Like many who spend close to six months living in the wilderness with nothing but a backpack, the trail changed me. Not in a way that is visible from the outside (although I continue to wear my bandana and hiking clothes in the civilised world); not necessarily noticeable in my personality, (because yes, I’m still wandering the world looking for answers to life’s big questions); but it changed something deep in the core of my being, in the way I see the world and the people within it, that will always stay with me.
One of the hardest parts about getting to the end of The Trail is saying goodbye. You’re not just saying goodbye to the extraordinary wilderness, mountains, forests and deserts that were once your home; the community of people that became your family; or the generosity of the individuals who helped you along the way. You’re saying goodbye to the person who you were before the trail. The person who once had a dream of walking the entire length of the United States from South to North. That person no longer exists, and it’s the beginning of a new life, with the person who did just spend six months in the wilderness, walking all those miles.
Day 1 on the PCT:
Day 174 completing the PCT:
What I miss about The Trail is not just the environment, the freedom, the beauty or the mystery. It’s not the independence, the solitude, the energy or the unknown. What I miss the most is the feeling of accomplishment – the realisation that for 174 days I was achieving something exceptional. I was pushing the boundaries of what I thought possible. I was proving to myself what I was capable of, and I was growing stronger with every step.
Re-entry into mainstream life after the trail:
It’s an inevitable transition for life to go from extraordinary back to ordinary after realising your dream; and I really struggled with this when life went back to ‘normal’ after the trail (post from January 5, 2014, about reminiscing). But there’s a common saying amongst thru-hikers that ‘the trail will provide’. When you hit the bottom and were at your lowest, the trail would always come through with a little bit of magic. I also believe this to be true with the roller coaster ride we call life; and that like the trail, everyday we move a step closer to achieving our dreams (even if we don’t know what they are yet).
The trail provided me with countless gifts, and many of those are ones that will last a lifetime: an unprecedented appreciation for nature; an understanding that when you live with less, you live more; an introduction to the best of the human spirit, and to the most inspiring of people; and the belief that if you want something bad enough, you’re the only person who’s going to stand in your way.
I want to thank the trail for all it has given me, the people who shared the experience and became like family, and the support network that helped carry me (many of whom still travel along with me today).
22 thoughts on “The end of The Trail”
Amazingly well written!
Happy PCT anniversary Rozanne! Such an incredible journey you have been on. Super inspiring. Hope the rest of your travels are going fantastically xoxo
Fi Chong, that is 🙂
What a great memories to share!! And a great achievement to look back to. Happy living! Hope to see you soon.
Bless your dear, honest and open heart. You bring the world home… and with it, joy, wonder, hope and inspiration. The Trail does provide.
Congrats on your PCT Anniversary! Very well said. Looks like your hiking today, too. What a great way to celebrate! I love your adventures, celebrations, and world explorations. I hope you keep living life and taking it all in. Best wishes always.
Great to hear from you! Thanks for checking in and best of luck!
Perfectly said. What a journey we followed you on, and what a journey we STILL follow you on. You are a special soul, Muk Muk 🙂
Great juxtaposition with the first day and the last on trail. You never fail to bring a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat on the monument video, even when I know what’s coming.
A well written entry today, thanks for sharing your reflections a year later.
Best wishes to you. Life has changed and you have changed your life. Jon’s life has really changed since the PCT. Good luck Ros
Great one Muk. Happy anniversary L1.
Thanks again for sharing your adventure with us. Your journal, with its mix of video and writing, is one of the best presentations of life on the PCT that i have ever seen. It was backpacker reality TV–an engaging character taking on a life-changing challenge with the PCT as the backdrop. You unabashedly shared the joys and sorrows of the journey. (Quick story–I usually viewed your blog at night before going to sleep. During a particularly difficult segment, my wife said to me “is she crying again?”) The last days on the trail when you were out of contact and dealing with heavy snow that was turning back others was a great cliffhanger!
I am working to arrange life to do the PCT in 2016. Although not tech-oriented at all, I have started to practice with video and blogging to try and replicate the production values of your blog. It truly provided a unique insight into PCT life. But even more importantly, it will serve for you as a priceless documentation of an accomplishment that will be celebrated for a lifetime. I want that experience and that record for myself, and you showed how it can be done.
May the trail be with you.
Wow Herb, thank you so much for your kind words! I’m excited that you still have the adventure of a lifetime ahead of you. Please share your blog link with us once you’re up and running! Happy trails, Muk 🙂
Great to hear your reflections and your timing as always perfect.
The Tramper ladies were working on the piece of the PCT in and
around Lassen National Park this sunny weekend. We hiked the burned trails that you followed last year, as I recall you were able to spend the night in Drakesbad which must have been wonderful after all you had been through the week before. We got to the place on the trail where thru hikers had left their messages and Jana found after much searching your message which was a simple :). Will send photos later once I figure how how I can do that. Happy Trails
Muk, your journey has truly changed my life. Thanks to Jan who introduced me to your blog, you reassured my passion to hike the PCT (which is coming up so soon, I need you to come help me get ready!). Every time I get your updates I feel like they’re from an old friend. Please do keep in touch, and if you’re online and bored, follow my story and please, please, please, offer advice! Thank you for everything, I wouldn’t have found the courage and inspiration to do it without you.
Woooner! Whenever your name pops up it also feels like I’m hearing from an old friend. Your words brought a tear to my eye and I can’t tell you how excited I am for your adventure next year (and utterly jealous!!) I’ll be keeping an eye on your blog for sure. Thank you for sharing it with us and success with your planning! Muk 🙂
I have over the last few days read through and watched all your videos of your great adventure, and I am simply in awe of your incredible achievement. Watching you take those first tentative steps and all the joy and pain, highs and lows truly inspired me. I laughed and cried with you as you pushed on through weather, pain and fatigue.
It has long been a dream of mine to do the PCT but like so many others, jobs, kids and the chains of ordinary life that bind us prevent me from doing it. You are truly blessed to be able to lead the life you do and the adventures you chase!
In one of your blogs you doubted yourself and your ability to “give back”, and I can say without a doubt you do. You allow complete strangers to live those adventures through you and inspire us to keep dreaming that maybe one-day we can all walk in your footsteps. We can all take strength in your determination and press on with our dreams.
I know it will be a proud moment for me as I am sure it will be for others.
Keep trekking girl….
Thank you for your very kind and thoughtful words! Muk
Wow! Just like sauconydad (comment above), I have spent the last 48 hours reading every pct blog post you wrote and watched every video you uploaded and am truly truly inspired by your adventure. I heard about the PCT last year from someone who had completed it, and the seed was planted… But the more I read, the more I thought it would be impossible for me to tackle it alone, but your blog has given me the confidence I needed and I want to get out there and do it… Now!
Thank you Muk Muk for documenting your journey, you’re an incredibly brave, strong and determined woman and an inspiration xxx
Hi darling, a few weeks ago it was your 1 year anniversary of the completion of “The Trail” and it is only now that I congratulate you because I was myself on a holiday trail and could not read your blog properly. It was great looking again at the video of your first day walking there in the beautiful nature. Your were there full with excitement – wanderlust – determination – good feeling of starting it – happy smiling face and an openness for the unknown of what this Trail will give you. Then looking at you there at “The Monument” at the Northern Terminus. I wanted to hug you, if I only could have been there, but wasn’t. Tears were rolling over my cheeks back home. So many feelings you had to deal with and the happiness of fulfillment for finishing “The Trail” Because of you keeping us in tune with your blog, “The Trail” became a part of me and so many others. Thanks for letting me and others deal into your wonderful experience it may help us only a little to understand how it was. I am very proud of you. Love you darling, Mutti xx
Congratulations, Muk Muk! I loved your blog while you were on the Trail and today I decided to check back for any updates. Savor the anniversary. My thru-hike of the AT in 2005 affected me permanently, and for the better. Like it or not, you develop some of that Zen dispassion that our culture doesn’t know what to do with. I met you very briefly in 2013 in Idyllwild during what for me was a thru-hike but the Trail decided it would end at Wrightwood. Since then I have kept in touch with some other hikers I met – would it be possible to update you offline? I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org. All the best on all the adventures to come! – 3Cats
Wow! reading through the comments above I see so many have watched your vids and followed your blog and come up with the same things I’d like to say..congrats on such an epic adventure, and on just being the inspiring person you are. Thank you for sharing your spirit journey with us. I’ll be following in your footsteps in a few years (i’m ready now grrrr!!!). I will think of you when I come across the location where you stood off the lion with a toothpick and a lot of pluck, and remember always…mind body trail!