The Hiker

I’m a would-be runner, an Oxford graduate, a lapsed gamer girl, a standardized test prep boss. I grew up in a solidly middle-class family in the rural Midwest, and spent my youth reading, nerding, acting, and wandering the long road we lived on, usually accompanied by dogs. Moving a lot in my youth – for my parents’ work, to see family, after the divorce – endowed me with a chronic case of “itchy feet” syndrome, and as such, I’ve lived in six different US states and four different countries in the last ten years. I’m a child of the recession and a child of the “post-racial” age; I’m the daughter of an unmistakably brown mother and a father whose “Negro” label on his birth certificate seems at odds with the whiteness of his skin. While the present makes us, the past molds us, and as an anthropologist by training, these varying contexts, how all of us, as individuals, are subject to them and, in certain times and places, masters of them– it’s all fascinating to me.

Having traveled extensively, and being deeply into migration, it only took a bit of exposure – an experienced long-distance backpacker as a Special Gentleman Friend, the Colorado screening of “Embrace the Brutality“, and the Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kickoff – to sell me on long-distance backpacking. Many months of guidebook reading, forum lurking, trail event-attending, gear buying, and shakedown backpacking later, I made it through my first thruhike – the 485-mile Colorado Trail. I was certainly underprepared in some ways, overprepared in others, but I’m still kind of in shock that I had the audacity to attempt such a thing, such an utterly human and ostensibly normal thing, to put one foot in front of the other, for hundreds – now, thousands – of miles.

Having thruhiked the Pacific Crest Trail as well – and now thoroughly hooked on the long-distance hiking life – I’m available for public speaking engagements and writing assignments to support further hiking-and-writing endeavors. Inquire on the Contact page for more information.

7 thoughts on “The Hiker

  1. Alison & Matt says:

    Hi Amanda,
    Congratulations on your successful thru-hikes of the Colorado Trail and the PCT. We did the John Muir Trail this past summer and were a few days behind you. We were hoping we might cross paths to tell you how much we enjoy your blog and your trail reports for Backpacker magazine, but the timing didn’t quite work out. We really loved the JMT and are looking forward to doing something a little longer this summer. We are debating between the Colorado Trail and the Washington portion of the PCT. You, of course, have done both, and we are curious as to which one you would recommend doing first and why. We would love to hear your thoughts on this matter!
    Thank you,
    Alison & Matt


    • Brown Girl says:

      Thanks! And oh, man! It would’ve been cool to meet you.

      Dang, this is a hard one. I think it depends on when you’re going and what you’re looking for.

      Having done the JMT (northbound?), you’re mentally/physically prepared to do Washington. It was probably my favorite part of the PCT, aside from the Sierra. I think I liked it so much because not only is it gorgeous, but during the time of year I was up there, it was challenging, too – a looooad of up and down every day and a lot of thinking about the weather and logistical fun. It’s also got one of the best trail towns (Stehekin, that bakery is worth all the hype), and a hot springs alternate (Goldmyer). I think one of the other reasons I enjoyed Washington so much was because it was the end of my hike – there was a lot of meaning in that for me.

      The Colorado Trail, if you start from Denver, has a bit more of a ramp up – you start at 6,000 feet and go up more gradually. (If you start from Durango, you go from 6,000 to 12,000 in the first 20 miles.) The trail towns are lovely, it’s cool to meet all the CDT hikers for the 305 miles the trails overlap (if you were into that sort of thing on the JMT), and there’s also a hot springs (Mt. Princeton) not too far off the trail. The Colorado Trail is, on average, higher up than the Washington section (averages ~10,000 feet over its length), so if altitude affects you, that might be something to think about – I’m pretty sure my intestinal problems on that trail can be at least partially attributed to altitude, which was… uncomfortable to say the least. I think in midsummer, June/July – if that’s when you’re looking to hike – there’s a higher chance of thunderstorms during the afternoon, and being so high up, lightning is a concern. I think I only really had rain-rain one day on the CT, though.

      You can’t go wrong with either, I think. Let me know which one you choose, particularly if you do the Colorado Trail – I’ll see if I can come out, do some trail magic.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alison and Matt says:

        Thanks so much for the lengthy and detailed reply, Amanda. You make both trails sound pretty awesome, so I think we are definitely going to have to do both eventually. We haven’t decided which one yet, but we will let you know when we make our decision. We are headed to New Zealand in a few weeks and are hoping to hash it out while we tramp around there! 🙂 Cheers!


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