Three years ago, Julie Klazynski had never been backpacking, but then she read “AWOL on the Appalachian Trail” by David Miller.
That book, which tells the author’s story of hiking that entire 2,200-mile trail, made Klazynski want to backpack.
A year later, with a handful of short backpacking trips under her belt, the Columbia woman decided she wanted to hike the 2,653-mile Pacific Crest Trail.
“It just formed in my mind that this would be so cool,” she said. “I think what really solidified that decision is three years ago, my parents and I went to Lassen Volcanic National Park in California, which the PCT runs through. I just decided ‘this is my goal. In the summer of 2019, I’m going to do this.”
She is not sure why the idea of thru-hiking such a long trail appealed to her, though she acknowledges the challenge of it was intriguing.
“I love backpacking and I love being outside, so all that attracted me,” the 39-year-old Freeburg High School math teacher noted. “Some people have a midlife crisis and buy a Corvette or something like that. But I’ll turn 40 on the trail, hopefully, in September. So maybe that’s it.”
She does know why she picked the PCT, despite it being farther away than other long trails like the AT.
“I knew it would be super different from the terrain back home,” Klazynski explained. “The Appalachian Trail, they call it the long green tunnel. It’s very wooded and that’s how hiking in Missouri is. So I knew doing the PCT there would be desert and mountains, and if I was going to have this crazy experience I wanted to go for the most different thing from what I’m used to.”
With her mind made up, Klazynski got to work.
She began reading books and blogs from those who have done similar hikes.
She got more backpacking experience, including backpacking on a glacier in Alaska so she could practice hiking on snow and ice.
She also persuaded her school board to her an unpaid leave of absence so she could complete the hike.
Additionally, she planned the hike, including deciding how to manage resupply boxes, as much as she could.
With that work done, she left her home for California on April 12. She was on the trail on April 14.
Klazynski has hiked 745 miles so far…