Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: The FAQs – Megan Lemon ’18 and Julia Nelson ’20

Categories: Blog

Levine Alumni Megan Lemon ‘18 and Julia Nelson ‘20 hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 2023 and
2021 respectively. Throughout their hikes, they received countless questions ranging from the
simple “What do you eat?” to the more abstract and hard hitting “Why are you doing this? Did
you ever want to quit? What has been your toughest day?” Megan and Julia are here with us
today to answer all your PCT questions (within the confines of a blog word limit).

What is the PCT?
JN: The pct is a long-distance trail traversing 2,650 miles through California, Oregon, and
Washington. The end/beginning points are at the US borders of Mexico and Canada.

Did you hike alone?
JN: Yes and no. I started the trail alone and ended up meeting so many people. I hiked and
camped alone sometimes and was with a ‘tramily’ (trail-family) other days.

Trail names?
ML: Lemon, The Mayor, and Cabbage Pack Kid (don’t pack out shredded cabbage, trust me)

How many miles do you hike in a day?
ML: In the beginning, I was happy with 15-20 miles a day, but by the end in Washington, I was
pushing 30+ miles everyday.

What do you eat?
ML: In the beginning, you could catch me enjoying salami roll-ups, but after my salami turned
gray a few too many times, I gave those up. Instant mashed potatoes, ramen, and Knorr
pasta/rice sides are some of the most popular options because they’re lightweight and cook
quickly. But that’s just on the trail. Once in town, you pretty much eat everything you can get
your hands on!

What was the best part of trail?
JN: I had a couple big motivators going into the hike. The first centered around the simple goal
of wanting to see and explore all of these stunning areas that I have never seen before. The
other main goal was to be fully independent and self-sufficient. My biggest take-away and
favorite part of the trail was the relationships I formed and how I learned to lean on others, ask
for help, and to be vulnerable when I needed to be.
ML: It really gave me the time to reflect and think about the future. I was in a really pivotal time
in my life: moving back to the US after living in Fiji for almost 5 years and about to start law
school and get married in August. It was incredibly therapeutic to have nothing but time and
space to think, while also being forced to live in the present.

Do you have a favorite section of trail?
JN: I honestly cannot pick! 
ML: I only did the desert and Washington, so between the two, I’d choose Washington. I did
really enjoy the desert though, which was surprising.

Toughest part about the trail?

JN: Heat waves. Mosquitoes. CHAFING.
ML: I’d just add meeting really cool people who aren’t going your pace!

Have you ever done anything like this?
JN: NOLS of course!
ML: Living in Fiji prior to the trail really helped me deal with the lack of service, clean water, and

What’s next?
JN: The spring after the PCT I hiked the 400mi Oregon Coast Trail. Backpacking remains a part
of my day to day life. I often am in the backcountry as a part of my work as a biologist and I try
to get out on my weekends and when I get time off. There’s lots of other long trails I’d love to do
such as the Idaho Centennial Trail, Great Divide Trail, CDT, the AT of course, and the list goes
ML: I just started law school in August, so for now, I’m focusing on studying. Luckily my school
is only about 20 miles from the Appalachian Trail, so I’m planning a few weekend trips!