Exposure

Portraits of Pacific Crest Trail Hikers

Reporter Kathryn Miles and photographer Ian Tuttle caught up with some of the people hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this year and asked them why they're hiking

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Photo: Ian Tuttle

Finn

Age: 25
From: Raleigh, North Carolina
Occupation: Home sales
Luxury Item: Conditioner and a razor

“I didn’t want my career anymore, so I figured maybe I’d walk five months and figure out what I really want. The Appalachian Trail is in my backyard, but the PCT is longer and harder, so I figured why not start with that.”

Photo: Ian Tuttle

Steve

Age: 62
From: Raleigh, North Carolina
Occupation: Home builder
Luxury Item: Sleep apnea machine and a solar panel to run it

“Hiking the PCT has been a lifelong dream of mine. I have arthritic knees now, so I don’t know far I’ll be able to go. I figure I’ll be able to tell after the first 100 miles or so if I can make it.”

Photo: Ian Tuttle

Maya and Dario

Ages: Both 30
From: Zurich, Switzerland
Occupations: Assistant at a law firm and a software engineer
Luxury Items: Fleece hoodies

“There are certainly challenges to doing a thru-hike together. We know we’ll probably go at different paces, so we have figure out how to know when to stop to eat or sleep. If one of us is having a low moment, the other person can pick them up. Hopefully those low moments won’t happen at the same time for us.”

Photo: Ian Tuttle

Saichon

Age: 27
From: Thailand
Occupation: Recent college graduate
Luxury Item: Pillow

“I hope I’m going to meet great people, but really I am here because I believe that maybe I can learn something about myself in the wild. I just want to do a great thing once in my life.”

Photo: Ian Tuttle

Catherine

Age: 56
From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Occupation: Retired English teacher
Luxury Item: Large artificial flower in her hair

“I spent two years researching ultralight gear before deciding I would just make my own. Everything I’m carrying—my pack, my pants, even my belt—was made by hand. I started with a pattern but then included my own creative modifications. After all the busyness of getting ready, I’m looking forward to slowing down and having a meditative experience.”

Photo: Ian Tuttle

Olivia

Age: 23
From: Dallas, Texas
Occupation: Uber driver
Luxury Item: Stove

“I’ve always wanted to tour the West Coast in an RV, but I couldn’t afford it, so I decided I’d walk instead. Turns out that’s almost as expensive. I’m definitely worried about money, but I would rather do this and have the personal accomplishment than start a full-time career right now.”

Photo: Ian Tuttle

Naomi

Age: 27
From: Lennox Head, Australia
Occupation: Bartender
Luxury Item: Ukulele

“At this point in my life, I thought I’d be a wife and a mom. I don’t have that, but I don’t want to dwell. I want thrive with where I am right now. I want to make the most of being single and find joy in that.”

Photo: Ian Tuttle

Brett

Age: 31
From: Parsons, Kansas
Occupation: National Guardsman
Luxury Item: iPhone

“I just got back from a deployment to the Middle East, and I told my commander I’m going to come back with a beard and a ponytail. I know I’ve wanted to do this hike for a long time, but I still feel like I’ve had catfish in my stomach for the past two days.”

Photo: Ian Tuttle

Erin

Age: 23
From: Anchorage, Alaska 
Occupation: Actress
Luxury Item: Amazonite crystal

“I studied acting in Ireland, then moved to New York City. There, I battled alcoholism and depression. I’m mentally good now, but I need to rebuild my confidence and know my strength. This crystal is supposed to help release toxic energy. I’ve been carrying it since I started my journey back to health. My plan is to throw it off a cliff somewhere on the trail.”

Photo: Ian Tuttle

Casey

Age: 24
From: Chicago, Illinois 
Occupation: Wilderness educator
Luxury Item: Deck of cards

“For my entire life, hiking the PCT is the only thing I’ve ever known that I really wanted to do. I brought a deck of cards because I figured it’d be a good way to make friends. If that doesn’t work, I can start hustling people.”

Photo: Ian Tuttle

Justin

Age: 29
From: Brea, California
Occupation: Lift operator 
Luxury Item: Colorado state flag

“I fucking love walking. When you know you love something, you’ve got to do it and you’ve got to do it now. Otherwise, you’re going to run out of days. The time is now. That’s the big message for all of us.”

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