My bond with the Californian Wilderness

Of all trails on this planet, why the Pacific Crest Trail?

Well, follow me back to when I was fourteen years old. I was living a happy life in my home town Nijmegen. With my parents and sister we had a cozy family. I loved wild swimming, going around with my friends. But then one day…

My father announced we were going to the United States for a year, for his work. Berkeley, California was soon to be our new home.

Now, if you know the Bay area, San Francisco and the Sunshine state, you know this a superb region. Nature and culture are both booming. Berkeley is probably the most progressive city of the country, so even for USA critics a wonderful place to be.

But me and my sister, we didn’t want to go. “I will miss my friends, I don’t want to live in Berkeley.” we reacted in choir.

However, it was a done deal and grumbling we grew into the new challenge.

The year in Berkeley turned out to be one of the best in my life. I loved my new group of skateboard friends. Under the blue Californian sky we adventured our way through the ever sunny days and starlit nights.

During holidays, my parents took us to explore the Great Outdoors. We hiked and wild camped in the Grand Canyon. We langlaufed around Lake Tahoe. We trekked through Yellow Stone, Grand Teton and Yosemite.

I was enthralled by the beauty of the wilderness. It stole my heart .

As grand finale for a magnificent year, we drove from San Francisco to New York. Meandering through the desert, mountains, cities, towns and villages. And finally flew back home.

After the dust settled, I felt a bit like a Dutch American. -Maybe also because I was born in America? Even though I was made in Holland… Maybe because “Welcome home sir”, were the first words from an official when I set my first foot on the new soil?- Could also be because of my new warm friendships?

Anyway, in the years that followed, I kept longing for Berkeley, and missing my friends more and more.

After high school, I wanted to visit them, but it was too expensive. That’s why I searched and found a job in a USA summer camp working as Life guard and sailing / swimming teacher. I was super excited I could go! Afterwards, I traveled the country and visited my friends.

This wonderful adventure strengthened my bond with my friends. And with the amazing landscapes in this intriguing country.

The following years, I planned to ’emigrate’ more than once. One time, I even quit my job, rented out my apartment and bought a one way ticket to San Francisco. But I stayed for love. That’s another story.

Fast forward to 2021. I read an interview with Tim Voors about his epic journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I had never heard of the trail before. But vivid memories of the Californian wilderness sprang into my mind straight away. And stirred my heart. I was mesmerized.

Also by the invitation of Tim Voors to listen to your heart, follow your dreams and if there is a sleeping adventure somewhere deep inside, it’s never too late awaken it. And go!

“That’s what I ought to do”, this thought came and grew in my mind.

So there you have it, it went as simple as that. I did not research nor compare different long distance hikes to pick this one.

Sometimes it even feels like it’s the other way around, like this journey picked me. Serendipity! Things happening at the right time at the right place for a ‘higher’ reason. But now I am crossing a line and becoming too floaty, too kumbaya. Let’s first take my first steps on the trail and see what happens.

Too wrap it up

Many words to say in short 🙂 I picked the Pacific Crest Trail because I have fond memories of the Californian wilderness. Besides, it’s also nice to hike from one side of the country to the other side. Plus, ‘from Mexico to Canada’ sounds cool 😉

I tell a short story about my USA summer job Life guard adventure in this episode of Echt Gebeurd, the Dutch version of ‘The Moth’, where people tell real-life stories,


  1. Mooi verhaal!

    En nu lekker op avontuur.

    Veel succes en plezier!

    Ik probeer te zwaaien vanaf Pakistan Karakoram Mountains.

    Hug, Ad van Dortmont

    1. PP says:

      Dank je Ad! Safe journey, but not too safe… looking forward to your sustainable journey adventures ✨

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