Weekend Warm-Up: It is the People

Pacific Crest Trail from start to finish. Photo: Elina Osborne

Do you remember what it was like to fall in love for the first time? In 2019, Elina Osborne did just that. And no, this is not an Eat Pray Love or Wild story about heartbreak and self-discovery on the open road. This love story is a dramatic and radical succession of first times: getting cozy with strangers, hitchhiking, getting hurt and of course, surviving “homelessness with intention”, collectively known as the Pacific Crest Trail. Oh, and it features a lot of hiking, too.

Oregon’s mountains and sky. Photo: Pacific Crest Trail Association

The 4,720km thread linking California and Canada is mostly popular among those who need to figure life out. Whether it is a mid-life crisis, a big financial decision or just a choice to abandon all practicality to pursue adventure, it offers a chance to reset or at least take a break from ordinary life. After facing personal tragedy and betrayal in her native New Zealand, Osborne felt the need to be reborn halfway across the world. 

The trail also gives you an adopted family. Like many others before her, Osborne  found like-minded comrades with whom she shared illness, injury, hunger, bad moods and every human experience you can think of. As they transitioned from state to state, the misfit group of 12 hikers tackled deserts, mountains, plains and forests for 137 days. 

San Felipe Valley. Photo: Charlie Willard/Pacific Crest Trail Association

Like many first loves, the PCT is also a painful journey. Help is not easily accessible. Rattlesnakes, exposure, frostbite and heatstroke were only a few things to worry about. The cold and unexpected rainfall in the desert inadvertently made Osborne feel superhuman in her capabilities.

Yet, amid the swollen and blistered ankles, the hunger pangs and nagging itch of dozens of mosquito bites, the kindness of strangers shone through. The painstaking hard work of traversing the land and avoiding the harshest elements was replaced by the occasional treats of hitchhiking, a motel, a refreshing swim in a lake and a warm pizza from friendly locals. 

What did she gain in the end? As expected, an intense love affair that came to an end. The heartbreak set in, “everything hurt”, and she unlocked a part of herself that she never thought existed.

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About the Author

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu is a writer (and occasional photographer) based in sunny Trinidad and Tobago.

Since graduating from the University of Leicester with a BA in English and History, she has pursued a full-time writing career, exploring multiple niches before settling on travel and exploration. While studying for an additional diploma in travel journalism with the British College of Journalism, she began writing for ExWeb.

Currently, she works at a travel magazine in Trinidad as an editorial assistant and is also ExWeb's Weird Wonder Woman, reporting on the world's natural oddities as well as general stories from the world of exploration.

Although she isn't a climber (yet!), she hikes in the bush, has been known to make friends with iguanas and quote the Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish.

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