Imagine you have a permit for the thru-hike of your dreams and five months of free time to prepare. Do you meticulously plan every detail, train every day, and obsess over gear choices? Or do you say ‘screw it,’ hit the beach, and surf your heart out? Spoiler alert: I did the latter – it may not have been the wisest choice, but it sure was a hell of a lot of fun. And now, with six weeks left until my flight to San Diego, it’s time to face the music and get my gear, body, and mind in shape for the adventure of a lifetime.
From the Canaries, Hawaii & Central America over a pit stop at home to the US-American backcountry: A sabbatical fairytale
Hey there – I’m Katharina, a Northern Sea native based in the south of Germany. After some years of being a desk jockey, I am currently on a 12-month sabbatical from work to see what else the world has to offer. Since last November, I’ve been hiking & climbing on the Canaries, explored the Hawaiian islands with my best friend, and went solo traveling in Central America, not really focusing on hiking, but rather on improving my surf skills. Let’s just say that the only thing I’ve been hiking up lately is my surfboard onto the waves. However, I’m now back home in Germany, visiting friends and family, and really getting into the details of planning my dream hike – the Pacific Crest Trail!
Who I am … and who I am after the picture I want you to have of me
Now, I’m a super organized, tough, and determined person who’s always on top of things – you know, the whole shebang… but let’s be real, that’s the dream, anyway. In reality, I embrace the chaos, always heart over head, and react highly sensitive to the world around me. Considering myself a happy-go-lucky character, you will find me having miserable days, too, but easily bouncing back to my inspirable and optimistic nature. I worked very hard (and successfully) in the past years to go from scaredy-cat to being a bit less but still fairly risk-averse, which is what almost everyone laughs at when I also tell about my plans to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (which in most people’s opinion is apparently the opposite of risk aversion). I have a million ideas and dreams, but my follow-through is…well, let’s just say, not always great. I’m either all-in or all-out, there’s no in-between. However, when I really want something, I will go above and beyond to make it happen – so obviously, once I got hooked, it was clear I would try to hike the Pacific Crest Trail one day. My love affair with the great outdoors began just a few years ago, but I’ve truly fallen head over heels and can’t imagine ever breaking up. In addition to hiking, I enjoy running, climbing, yoga, reading (preferably in cozy cafés), and taking my mountain bike for a spin. And while I may have grown up by the ocean and I occasionally even attempt to surf (keyword: attempt), I won’t be catching any waves on this trip. I’ve got a date with the mountains!
Finding and facing freedom on the Pacific Crest Trail
I got hooked on the Pacific Crest Trail thanks to a friend that gifted me a German hiker’s book back in 2020, saying that if she knew anyone who would quit her job, go for a hike and never return, it would definitely be me. Little did I know that from that day onwards, I would non-stop think about all the possible trail adventures out there. I slowly gained more outdoor experience, but then life happened and, after some foreshadowing events in the previous years, went fully downhill in 2021 to an extent I could have never imagined. The urge to make a clean cut and experience something not attached to anyone’s expectations or determined by responsibilities towards others grew inside of me. I’m attempting my thru-hike for a bunch of reasons: For myself and to experience full freedom and independence, to commemorate those who will not have the chance anymore to explore the beauty of our world and to show that you can bounce back from negative life events and outgrow yourself. Because let’s face it, if I can survive five months without my favorite coffee shop or my Netflix account, anyone can.
Hike your own hike or: How to not get freaked out by the gear heads
Now that I’m back in Germany, I am fully immersed in the preparations for my upcoming adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail. But I have to admit, I’m feeling a little anxious. I haven’t focused on hiking since November and instead spent my time surfing, exploring new places, and hanging out with the people I met while traveling. The record snow year and the resulting weather conditions that will await thru-hikers have only increased my respect for this challenging trail. In addition, social media has been both a boon and a bane in the past months. While it’s great to exchange tips and tricks with other hikers, the constant posts about gear lists, specialty training and trail strategy planning make me question whether I’m prepared enough or if I was naive to think I could take on this adventure. But then I remind myself of the catchphrase “hike your own hike.” For me, this means doing things in my unique way, even if it’s not the same as everyone else’s. I am always ready on time in full, but will never start one minute too early with any task – a classic deadline junkie. I may be chaotic in nature, but be sure that I always have my sh*t together for when it really matters. Plus: If there is one thing I trust in, it is my intuition which has never let me down in any critical life situation so far. So, I guess “hike your own hike” applies for the trail itself as much as for the journey towards it.
T-minus six weeks and counting
It’s hard to believe that the time has finally arrived and my Pacific Crest Trail adventure is about to begin. With just six weeks left until my flight to San Diego, I’m in the midst of a flurry of activity. Doctor appointments, visa applications, gear checks and trail strategy planning, starting my fundraiser, exercising body and mind and spending time with my loved ones all vie for my attention. It’s a (sometimes overwhelming) marathon, but I know that with a little determination and a lot of heart, I’ll cross the finish line.
Despite the mounting pressure, I’m excited for what’s next. The trail awaits, and I’m ready to take it on – doing it my own way. I may not have all the answers yet, but that’s okay. As I learned from my travels in past months and the numerous adjustments I had to make to my plans, it’s the journey itself that matters most. And with each step I take, I’ll be one step closer to my dream.
So here’s to what’s next – to the adventure of a lifetime, to the people who support me, and to the unknown challenges that lie ahead. With each passing day, I’m growing more confident in my ability to handle whatever comes my way. And as the clock ticks down to zero hour, I know that I’ll be ready to hike my own hike and make my mark on the trail.
Thanks for following as I take you along & happy trails!
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