Record snow packs along the Pacific Crest Trail may have deterred some of the toughest hikers in the country, but one Alamo woman is stepping up to the challenge.
In the near future, 22-year-old Katie Herron will complete the 2,663-mile trek from the California-Mexico border to Canada after five months of scorching deserts, raging river crossings and monumental snow covered mountain passes. Herron is approximately 180 miles from the finish line.
“There's only one way for me to walk to Canada and there's only one way for me to walk through life. Sitting & thinking doesn't get me there. Wanting, wishing, & waiting, doesn't get me there. No one can do it for me. Only I can do this," Herron said. "It's simply a matter of choosing to keep going and putting one foot in front of the other, no matter what challenges I face, until I get there."
Herron first thought about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) during a solo backpacking trip from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe two years ago. During her trip, the Monte Vista High School grad was inspired by "through hikers" and their stories of community and trail.
"The hardest trials of these days are the one's we'll remember best and the one's we'll be most proud of when we look back and know that we were strong enough to choose to continue," Herron wrote on her blog, California Down. "And that's why I'm still on this trail now -- because it's hard, and the hardest thing of all, the greatest challenge yet, is to finish it, and that is what I'll be most proud of."
In addition to walking over 1,700 miles across California, Herron has climbed thousands of feet of mountains, carried 11 pounds of water through dry deserts, forged raging creeks and made "joint-grinding descents into poison oak choked valleys." Herron averaged 26 miles a day throughout the state and wrote about the resulting sore feet and legs.
"I've concluded that I'm crazy. This is insane, I must be insane," Herron ruminated. "It's the kind of crazy that only a god-blessed member of the human race would reason themselves into. No tree would see the sense. No wild-minded black bear would ever dream to see the point."
After having so many choices made for her, a restlessness took over Herron and spurred the conclusion that hiking the PCT is an impassioned and spiritual pursuit. In her blog, Herron called the journey a "full mind-body commitment to a symbolic quest."