The Pacific Crest Trail is renowned in the Oregon outdoor scene for its rugged terrain, wild beauty, and vast expanse. But it is even more significant to us at Skout Backcountry. It was right before her thru-hike of the PCT that Amy Buglione first contacted us, unaware that four years later she would be a vital member of Team Skout Backcountry! This is her story.
In November of 2013 I finally committed to the crazy idea of thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. The idea of quitting my job, taking 6 months off from the 'real world', and hiking across the US from Mexico to Canada sounded like the best thing in the world but also the scariest. My partner, Seth, had wanted to do the PCT in early 2013, but after a series of unfortunate events, he was unable to do it that year. It worked out for the best as I decided I really wanted to do it too, so we were were able to do it together the next year!
Prep work began quick; Seth and I were suddenly spending every minute of our spare time researching gear and dehydrated meal ideas. I wanted to make sure I was fueling my hike with nutrient-dense food and not just resupplying at gas stations with candy bars, so I took on the daunting task of planning every meal for the 5-month adventure, making 21 resupply boxes. Before I knew it, I was running 3 dehydrators in my living room 24/7 for a couple weeks.
I also put a lot of time into researching bars and other snacks that I wanted to have on the trail. I spent hours in the trail/protein bar aisle at New Seasons, writing notes and thinking about what kind of bars and snacks would be a good addition to our diet.
Skout Backcountry Trail Bars stuck out to me as they are organic, date-based with a super simple ingredient list, and they're local. I reached out to Skout to see if they could support our hike with some of their provisions and they were the absolute best people to work with— their enthusiasm for our adventure was motivating.
Once all 21 resupply boxes got filled with dehydrated meals, bars, snacks and extra gear, we were about ready to embark on the adventure!
We got to the Mexican border at 6am on April 18th, 2014. I could never have prepared myself for the amount of growth that would come from the five months on the trail. The trail community was one of the most amazing and instrumental pieces of our PCT experience. I grew close with other hikers after hours and hours of walking and talking, and we quickly had a little trail family that we hiked with, or stayed in touch with, for the entire trail. The trail angels along the journey were just as pivotal to our sense of family on the trail. They'd open their homes to us, feed us amazing food, and boost our spirits.
Hiking the PCT became a lifestyle; we'd wake up, have a trail bar, hike about 6 miles, make breakfast and coffee (yes! we had pour over coffee every single morning!), would hike another 10 miles, find a spot with a view for lunch, and then finish up the day. We started at about 20 miles a day and worked our way up to almost 30 daily, with 39 miles being our longest day. Walking became a meditation for me — hours would pass and it would feel like 2 minutes. I needed the solitude and time to be introspective more than I thought. I felt so connected with the earth as hiking is such a slow and beautiful way to take it ALL in and be with your own thoughts.
As we approached the Canadian border, I was expecting to be happy to finally be done, but instead it was anticlimactic and I was entering Canada with mixed emotions of sadness and excitement. It wasn't about 'finishing' the PCT that sticks out to me about the journey — it was more the everyday experience. I will be forever grateful for the beauty, community, physical challenges and slow paced hiker trash life experience.
Once I finished the trail, I accepted a position back at the job I was at before the hike. Seth and I also started a business of our own. It was quite the intense transition from trail life to a really serious, busy, stressful life. After about a year and half we decided to sell the business, and I wanted to make a huge job change to pursue something that aligned more with my passions and would be more conducive to an adventurous, fulfilling life.
Deciding to leave the job that I had been at for almost 6 years was terrifying. I learned from the PCT that when I take risks and jump into something with all the best intentions of making it work and following my heart, it will work out. So I quit my job and contacted companies that I would want to work for. I told business owners a little bit about myself and proposed ideas for how I could see myself working for them.
One of those business was Skout. Having had Skout Backcountry as such a great supporter with delicious products had been an important part of our journey. I immediately connected with Jason, the owner, and I found myself so excited about the possibility of working for such a rad company that aligns with my values and passions. I'm now five months into this job and I'm happier than ever, living a life full of adventures, connecting with the coolest outdoor community in Portland and waking up everyday excited to think about our next great Skout project. Taking risks, jumping in and following what really feels right is so vital for me to live a fulfilled life. I'm so grateful for Skout and the community that has come with it!
PCT by the numbers...
1 mountain lion
Millions of mice... that would eat our food at night in Washington!
4 pairs of shoes for Amy
3 pairs of shoes for Seth
2 holes in Seth's air mattress
4 worn down trekking pole ends
1 rip in Seth's backpack
4 pairs of contacts for Amy
2 times running into a tree for Amy
12 rolled ankles for Seth
4 bee stings for Seth
3 bee stings for Amy
4 breakdowns for Amy
2 wounds that left scars for Amy
21 resupply boxes
500 granola/protein bars
152 cups of coffee each
100 chocolate bars
112 homemade oat mix/super breakfasts (so sick of it by the end, so we'd add hot chocolate to it)
Countless amazing memories
Endless wandering thoughts
Many new friends
A million smiles
Skout Backcountry is a proud supporter of the Pacific Crest Trail Association. We are honored to have the chance to sponsor the PCTA and help preserve the Pacific Crest Trail for hikers for years to come!
Want to talk about the trail, or need suggestions on gear and food? Contact Amy! She loves talking about adventure and is excited to help plan your journey! firstname.lastname@example.org