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There she goes... there she goes again.

I've got some big news, friends - I'm embarking on another long distance hiking adventure!

This time around, I'll be attempting the 1,200 (ish) mile Pacific Northwest Trail, also known as the PNT. The PNT stretches from the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park westward to the Pacific Ocean. It ends at the westernmost point of the continental US, Cape Alava.

While this trail is less than half the distance I traveled on the PCT, I still anticipate it taking 2.5-3 months for me to complete - it's also one of the most wild and rugged long distance hiking trails in the US.

Steph stands on the trail staring out at layers upon layers of forested and snow capped peaks in Northern Washington.
This picture was actually taken where the PNT follows the PCT! And it's one of my favorite views of the whole trail.

So, why? Why do this again?

Well, here's a little bit of my heart behind this new journey. Many of you who know me well or have followed my journeys know that hiking the Pacific Crest Trail over 2019-2020 really was a transformational point in my life. I was feeling stuck and just unsure of where I wanted to be, but hiking the PCT brought clarity and new discoveries about myself.

It led me to change careers (web design to wilderness therapy) and make a move out to Colorado. I absolutely love the life, ministry, and community I've found out here, so in that sense, the desire to hike another trail is sparked by something a bit different. Honestly, I think part of it is that I feel myself come alive in a whole new way when I am out on a thru-hike. Maybe it's something about the way thru-hiking brings together my love of wilderness, a physical challenge, deep community and conversation with other thru-hikers, and the God-given awe I find in the wild.

Another aspect is the need for emotional rest and nourishment. Working with teenagers in wilderness therapy is really emotionally draining. And while my off-season provides time to recover, my last season found me already feeling burnout partway through. In some ways, I do think this hike is me proactively scheduling some time to nourish my soul and reflect on where my path leads next, even as I anticipate staying in Colorado and most likely still returning to Seeds for the following season.

I have really come to value the rhythms of rest and work that my seasonal lifestyle has encouraged. I think our culture places so much emphasis on productivity, and simply walking for the sake of enjoyment, peace, and communion with God in nature is a wonderful way to embrace a lifestyle of unhurried joy and contentment. Of course, there are other ways to do this besides thru hiking, but since I am still at a place in life where it's doable, I want to take advantage of that.

Why the PNT and not another trail like the Appalachian or Continental Divide?

I fell in love with the Washington section of the PCT so quickly. The Pacific Northwest is such a beautiful and lush place to hike, and I've also never been to Glacier National Park! I'm very scenery motivated, and if I'm going to spend months hiking, I want to enjoy the views to the fullest.

Both the AT and CDT feel a bit too long to be away for me right now (at least in one season). I don't think anything will quite compare to the 6 months I spent on the PCT in 2019, and so I don't really feel the need to be away quite that long. I am interested in hiking sections of both trails. But I feel like the combination of length, scenery, and unique challenges of the PNT are the right fit for this season. Plus, since I start near the Canadian border, I can't start until late July, giving me the perfect amount of time to work the early season at Seeds helping train new staff for a few months before I leave.

Are you hiking for charity again this time?

Yes! This time around, I am hiking to support the Mooky Project, a charity created by my friend Pebbles to donate sock monkey buddies to kids as they go through treatment at Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis. You can donate on my GoFundMe fundraiser here.

Thanks for reading all this, friends! I'll once again be keeping a journal here on the blog and posting some updates on Instagram as I have service. But I'd really appreciate your prayers as I embark on this new, challenging journey.

You can explore more about the PNT on this page I created.

Westbound we go!


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