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Steph's 2023 in Review

hiking the olympic coast

Hello friends!

Thought I was overdue for a life update on here, especially since I completely failed to update this blog during my Pacific Northwest Trail hike this summer 😅 All I can say about that is that the trail really kicked my butt to the point that I had zero capacity to make my regular blog posts in town. So here's a little overview of my year!

At the start of the year, I decided I was ready to go for it with another thru-hike - this time the 1200 mile Pacific Northwest Trail. I knew it would be a very different experience than the PCT, with rumors of extreme solitude, road-walking, and bushwhacking as normal parts of this trail. But I was not deterred :)

In the winter off-season, I once again worked as a video editor for my mom, freelance designer, and bagel shop employee.

I took a little trip to Bryce and Zion in March with friends Rob and Catherine... had to sneak in some National Parks time before my pass expired!

I planned to help with training at Seeds for the spring, but when it got pushed back due to us not having a therapist, I had some unexpected time free to go on a hiking trip on Catalina Island with an awesome group of other thru-hikers. It was so beautiful!

In May, I quit my job with Seeds after much thought and prayer. It's a long story, but basically we weren't able to find a therapist, and I had concerns about moving forward without some essential roles in our company being filled. It was hard and sad. But I was thankful to have good friends and coworkers to process that with.

thankful for good friends

Nacho Mountain night with my housemates!!!

I squeezed in some sweet Colorado adventures with friends, including sunrise/sunset watching at the Black Canyon, hikes in Ouray, and a backpacking trip with my friend Dannie.

In June, I made the long drive to the Midwest to sing at my friend Kaysi's wedding, and then spent a bit of time with family in Indiana before I left for my big hike. I also enjoyed short visits in St. Louis with my childhood bestie Ashlyn and her family, plus my great aunt and cousins.

I celebrated the 4th in Ouray at the water fight parade... so FUN!

And then, I departed for my grand adventure on the trail! My dear friend Kiki drove me there and we spent a few days just being tourists in Glacier National Park, where the trail begins.

I looooved Glacier, but the next stretch on the PNT had me almost wanting to quit, or maybe find a different trail. I had forgotten how tough that adjustment period is when your body is getting in shape, and this time I faced it without any moral support from other hikers. The trail was very rough, unmaintained and wild. I was alone in grizzly country with just my bear spray, singing into the tunnels of brush to scare away the wildlife. I tripped and rolled my ankle multiple times, so I had a little breakdown upon reaching Eureka, MT.

Thank goodness for that old thru-hiker wisdom: "Never quit on a bad day." I called my mom, called friends, and then reached out on the PNT hikers Facebook page to see if I could find any kindred spirits to hike out with. And sure enough, God provided. Strider and Will rolled into town the next day and offered to hike out with me for the next 3 days. I really think having a bit of company and validation in the midst of that low saved my hike.

The trail was still hard, but I felt my body getting stronger and my resolve strengthening. I celebrated my 30th birthday in an awesome fire lookout on trail, and actually felt super grateful and happy to be out there. I overcame a crazy bushwhack section in Idaho, met some incredibly sweet trail angels, and kept connecting with the small but mighty group of thru-hikers I was meeting.

Things got interesting in central Washington, where fires were raging near the trail in the Pasayten wilderness and North Cascades National Park. I was a bit bummed, but chose to skip around that section to avoid hiking near active fires and in heavy smoke.

yellow midday sky, thick with smoke

That allowed me to slow my pace quite a bit and take more rest days. Western Washington was super beautiful and interesting - I picked up the trail near Mount Baker where I got my favorite campsite of the whole trail by Park Butte.

favorite campsite... Mt Baker, plus new friends!

Past Mt. Baker, the trail became more urban as I hiked through towns near Bellingham, Anacortes, and across Whidbey Island. The following photos illustrate the wacky variety of "trail" you will find on the PNT...

the trail

also the trail

The Deception Pass pedestrian walkway = trail

beach trail... watch out for high tide!

this ferry ride was also technically "the trail" 😂

I took the ferry from Whidbey to Port Townsend, and then the last bit of trail took me through the epic beauty of Olympic National Park, a place I'd definitely love to revisit someday. I reached the Pacific Ocean and then had 40 miles of coastline to the finish at Cape Alava. That last bit was more of a test than I imagined, having to deal with some oceanfront storms, ropes and ladders on the bluffs, and miles of slippery rocks. But I did it!

My mom and sisters me me at a trail angel's house in Port Angeles where we celebrated with a girls' weekend. It was so good to spend some time adventuring together and reconnecting before I headed back to Colorado.

Reintegrating to life was a lot easier for me than the last time I came back from a long hike. I am super thankful to live in such a beautiful place with such a caring community of friends.

I worked at a garlic farm for a bit and then went back to the bagel shop/video editing gigs, but my unexpected surprise of the year's end was landing a new full time job at The Nature Connection! I will be managing outdoor programs for kids in local schools - our goal is to help kids from underserved communities have better access to outdoor opportunities. Our first program of the year will be cross country skiing with 4th-6th graders!

haha... this will be my first 9-5 job since 2019 😂

Once again, life proves to be full of surprises, some welcome and some unwelcome. But in it all I still find that God is faithful and kind. I'm so grateful for this life He's given me, even though I sometimes marvel at how different it is than the life I thought I would have.

So may God meet you too this year in the gaps where your reality has fallen short of your hopes. I pray you'd have the courage to dream, to create, and to embrace rest, knowing that you don't have to hustle for your worthiness and that God calls you Beloved.

-- Steph (aka Calzone)

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Lauren Susie Martin
Lauren Susie Martin
Jan 16

Thanks for the year in revue, So faith building when God sent you a couple hikers for just a bit, to keep you going. I also appreciate your weird little job pick ups, garlic farm, bagel shop, that you don't think the work and your co workers are beneath you. You see it as a provision of God and a chance to minister.

The 9-5 job will be the like the beginning of your hike, tough at first but body and brain will get into the new life shape. Excited for your new job and your experience you will share will inspire the kiddos to just get up and keep going.

May you see God's hand in your new adventure.

Stephanie Seitz
Stephanie Seitz
Jan 20
Replying to

Thank you Sue :) So far I am really liking the new job!

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