This is not a beautiful hiking video. It’s more about heat, pain, hunger, mountains, lakes, sweat, dirt, freedom, and friendship. Actually, it’s about walking a long distance, for a long time. 2016: I decided to pack everything I need into a backpack, take a plane from Vienna to California, and start my biggest adventure so far: hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. The PCT is a long-distance trail from the Mexican to the Canadian border. The total length of 2650 miles, or over 4200 kilometers. For Europeans, that’s like starting a walk in Lisbon and walking through Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Bulgaria into Turkey, and reach Istanbul without hitting the full distance of the PCT. Many people ask me, “Why?” I started my hike end of April with high ambitions. My goal was to walk through California, Oregon, and Washington in less than five months. But just after four days, my body tried to tell me to stop. The desert in Southern California was brutal and I had to take a break already. I had [inaudible] experience, and I started too fast. But I couldn’t give up yet. One reason that kept me going were the people I met on trail. People with names like Dude-Man, Danger Noodle, Shepherd, and Pepe Le Pew. I got called Chopper. Why Chopper? Well, because I’m Austrian, and some people thought I sound like a fellow country man. Simple names to remember because life on trail is simple. Walk, eat, sleep, repeat. So I kept going. Days and weeks went by as my legs got stronger. But blisters, hunger, and thirst were my daily companions. Carrying six days worth of food and sometimes six to seven liters of water in my backpack are heavy. Who would have thought? Hitchhiking into town every couple of days is the only option for food resupply. “Yup. That’s slowing down. No it’s not.” But despite all the struggles, I realized that this is where I want to be: out in the wild. [soft acoustic music playing] “Come on boys!” “Together now!” The landscape changed, and so did I. My mental power surpassed my thoughts and reaching the Sierra was like going into Wonderland. Mountain lakes to dip in. Amazing sceneries after every pass and water sources everywhere felt great. [soft acoustic music continues] “Time to go pee.” “Oh fuck!” It’s no wonder trail can be tough to deal with. But it’s hard not to be happy when going down a slope after a long and energy [inaudible] way up. Hiking the PCT has the same total elevation as climbing Mount Everest 17 times from sea level. No wonder I lost about 10-15 kilograms in the first weeks of my hike, while eating as much and as calorie-intense as possible. My diet mostly consisted of tortillas, salami, ramen, and lots of chocolate bars. Most of the time, dipped into chocolate cream. A teenage girl’s dream. In Northern California, reality hit me. I was on trail for almost three months and I still hadn’t crossed the state border yet. Scorching sun and going up and down mountains ranges for weeks and I began to question, “Is this really worth it?” At the mid-point, I wasn’t sure. “Canada: 1325 miles away.” I was happy to come that far but for every step I took to this point, I had to do another one. But I kept going, step-by-step, mile-by-mile. Coming into Oregon was a huge milestone. I often heard that a thru-hike is more of a mental challenge than a physical one, and this is very much true. New state, new energy. Oregon was great and enjoyable. I felt much better and 35 more days were no problem. I reached Washington and soon Washington did what it’s known for. But I was too close to give up. I wanted to finish what I started. Putting cold and wet socks on in the morning isn’t a fun thing to do, but sometimes, a necessity. One time, the kind people that support hikers “trail angels” saved me. They give rides in the trucks, shelter, offer a drink or a sandwich. Kindness like that can turn a miserable day into a good one. Eventually the weather cleared up and Washington offered great last days on the trail. “Oh my god man. Look at that.” After 135 days in the wilderness, I reached the Canadian border very happy, because I had done something special, but the odds weren’t always in my favor. On the other hand, I was kind of sad. My new life and newfound freedom ended at that point. But, that’s alright because there are many other adventures out there. Mexico to Canada: 4200 kilometer.