Bobcat By the Numbers
2,665 miles
$1,435 for scholarships
98 days
27+ miles a day!
3 pairs of shoes
10 pairs of socks
7 lbs of gear
500+ energy bars
19 bears
6 rattlesnakes
0 mg of painkillers

What was your route?
I hiked the entire 
Pacific Crest Trail—2,665 miles from Monument 78 on the US-Canada Border to Campo on the US-Mexico Border over terrain ranging from high alpine to desert. I traversed eight mountain ranges: Cascade, Klamath, Sierra Nevada, Tehachapi, Liebre, San Gabriel, San Bernadino, San Jacinto and Laguna. I also made a side trip up to the summit of Mt. Whitney, as I was only a few miles away from the highest point in the lower 48 states.
What inspired you to make this trek?
My successful 2012
 Appalachian Trail thru-hike was a huge inspiration. I felt so good after that hike. Some physical ailments that I had been struggling with in previous years were gone and I felt so connected and energized by the land. I also just love walking. Three miles per hour is a speed that lets you take in the world with immense detail. It also leads to connections with other people that are lost in other speedier forms of transportation. I have learned so much from all of my long distance adventures and they have made me a much happier and healthier person. I really thrive when I’m taking on these huge challenges.
What was in your backpack?
You can check out my gear list on my 
blog. I started in the snow of Canada with 10 lbs. of gear and finished at the Mexican Border with less than 7 lbs. The more miles I hike, the less I carry with me. There’s a saying among ultralight backpackers that, “you pack your fears.” The more you confront these fears the less you need to carry.
What were some of your biggest challenges?
My biggest challenge was navigating and traversing the first 200 miles of trail south of Canada. I was on snow most of the time and the icy side hill sections were quite treacherous. My ice axe saved my life on several occasions. Some of the river crossings were quite challenging, since the rivers were extremely swollen with snowmelt.
In Oregon, the hordes of mosquitoes emerging from the melting snow really started to get to me. In Yosemite, smoke from the Rim Fire made breathing difficult for a week or so, but it was great lesson in forest dynamics. From locals to park officials, everyone seemed to have a different opinion concerning fire politics.
One challenge that was less difficult than I imagined, was the water situation in the deserts of Southern California. At this point in the trip I was dialed in, moving and thinking like a desert animal. I started my days early and used my naturalist skills at times to locate water. It’s amazing how much a little knowledge about vegetation can help you. Willows mean water; so grateful for that tree.
Can you share some of your wildlife encounters?
My most nerve racking wildlife encounters were with rattlesnakes. There is something so visceral about the reaction our bodies have to that buzzing sound! Four miles from the end of my journey, I stepped next to a speckled baby rattlesnake. I think my mind registered the snake as a rock, which is why I didn’t crush it. I was startled and pirouetted away when I realized what had just happened. It was a great reminder that my adventure required awareness and vigilance to the very last moment.
Back in snowy Washington at the beginning of my trip, I took a slide on a very steep section of trail. I self arrested with my ice axe and when I came to a stop I noticed a series of beautiful bear tracks going straight up the hillside. It was humbling to witness the power of this incredible creature. I also followed Mountain Lion tracks up over very steep terrain and along the tops of cornices.
One day, in Southern Washington, I trailed a large herd of Elk for several miles as they thundered on like an earthquake in front of me. It is always a powerful moment when you realize that animals are following the same path as hikers.
How did this journey change you personally and as a naturalist?
I learned a deeper sense of patience as well as more confidence to deal with anything that comes my way. Knowing that you have what it takes to survive in a diverse array of ecosystems with only 7 pounds of gear creates a deep sense of calm. Not only did I survive, but I had some of the most fun I’ve ever experienced.
I also learned about the western states’ environmental dynamics through intimate and extremely sensory experiences. I traced the water source of Los Angeles from its beginning high up the Sierra into Owens Valley, where the snowmelt is directed into a lake that feeds the L.A. aqueduct. I even walked along the aqueduct and amongst hundreds of wind turbines in the Mojave Desert. It’s experiences like this that deepen your perspective on what our impact on the earth really is.
What personal stories do you share with Outdoor School students?
I connect my adventures to those of the famous naturalist 
John Francis, also known as The Planet Walker. Mr. Francis gave up petroleum-fueled transportation for 22 years. He didn’t speak for 17 of those years. During that time, he became an expert on oil spills and was able to complete three college degrees including a PhD in Land Management. Additionally, John Francis is an avid musician.
I also tell my students stories of my wildlife encounters and observations about human impact on the land. I hope to inspire them to follow their dreams and learn from experience, directly from the earth.
What’s next?
I’ve really fallen in love with exploring urban areas on foot. Last year I routed and hiked a 110-mile stairway thru-hike of San Francisco. This year, I’m looking at possible routes in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. The big hike I have planned this year is a thru-hike of the 3,000-mile 
Continental Divide Trail which stretches from the Montana-Canada Border to the New Mexico-Mexico Border. I’ll leave for this adventure in late June. I’m always looking for more challenge and connection in diverse environments.