Hiker's Highlight - Kristen "Glowworm" Clements
Im sure y'all can imagine my excitement when I was browsing through the incredible hiker community on Instagram, and stumbled upon our Hiker's Highlight, Kristen "Glowworm" Clements - a fellow hiker and yogi! As a solo hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail, she touches on what its like being alone in the forest and facing your fears!
"Spending time in the wilderness has always been a huge part of my life, so when I found out thru-hiking was a thing that existed, I just knew it was something I had to get into."
How have you mentally and physically prepared for your solo hike on the PCT?
Physically, I just tried to stay in the best shape I could. I normally keep pretty active with running, hiking, and yoga, but knowing that I had a big hike coming up just gave me more motivation to stay in shape. I ran or hiked several times a week (well, I lived in a big city, so my 'hiking' was really just walking around town with my backpack on), and tried to keep up a daily yoga practise. Mental preparation is more difficult. I definitely recommend yoga and meditation. My practice has helped me cultivate a mindset that keeps me sane out here. I knew going in that I'm an extremely determined person (sometimes too determined), so mentally preparing for me was mostly telling myself that it was okay to be flexible and let plans change.
What was your inspiration to start thruhiking?
Blogs! I discovered PCT trail journals one day while stuck somewhere in the depths of the Internet (probably procrastinating doing something for school), and started devouring as many stories of solo female hikers as I could. Reading about their journeys really convinced me that this was something I could actually do.
What was your biggest fear when starting to solohike?
When I first started doing short overnight trips solo, I was pretty much scared of everything. Getting attacked by a bear, injuring myself and not being able to get help, going outside of my tent in the dark, the list goes on. All those fears had pretty much passed by the time I started the PCT, and I honestly think my biggest fear was that I wouldn't make any friends (it kind of felt like the first day at a new school, haha). But that fear quickly disappeared as well when I realized that the people on trail are some of the most amazing, friendliest people out there.
What are your long term hiking goals?
There are so many trails out there that I want to do! The West Coast Trail in British Columbia is definitely on the list, and I'd love to do some international trails as well, like the Laugavegur in Iceland or parts of the Te Araroa in New Zealand. But I also want to try my hand at some other types of adventures, so we'll see. There's so much to see and do out there! I just want to spend as much time in the wilderness as I possibly can. If I can cultivate a lifestyle that allows me to spend large chunks of time outside, I'll be happy.
How do you apply yoga to your hiking on a daily basis?
I don't often find the time to do a physical yoga practice on the trail, but what I do apply to my hiking on a daily basis is the mindset I've cultivated through my yoga practice. Things like not being attached to outcomes, or being able to connect to my breath in a difficult moment keep me sane out here, and I definitely have yoga to thank for the fact that I'm able to do that. I think I would have experienced a lot more frustration on this trail if I hadn't had a consistent yoga practice before setting out.
What are your favorite yoga poses when out hiking?
Almost any yoga pose feels incredible after a long day of hiking, and I crave different things depending on what's hurting on a given day. Pigeon pose or firelog pose to open up my hips always feels amazing. Triangle pose is another favourite. Even a simple downward dog feels great after the repetitive motions of hiking.
How has meditating helped you to accomplish your trek so far?
I think meditating has played a huge role in how I've reacted to hardships out here. Although I don't really practice regular meditation on the trail, I often find hiking to be like a form of moving meditation. The mindset that I've cultivated through my yoga and meditation practice has really helped me to stay calm through the frustrations out here.
What has been the scariest moment on the PCT for you?
My hiking partner/boyfriend got airlifted from the base of Mount Whitney with high altitude pulmonary edema, and I think the 24 hours leading up to that point were definitely the scariest I've experienced on trail so far. We were separated from the friends we had been hiking with and didn't know where they were, and we were trapped in the Sierra with no feasible exit route (the closest bail out point was a 16 mile hike over a 13,000 foot pass, which just wasn't going to happen when he couldn't even walk 10 feet without having to sit down and catch his breath). The helpless feeling of not knowing what to do was terrifying. Luckily, I had my InReach with me and was able to call for help. The situation could have been much worse if we didn't have that option, but it was still pretty scary.
What lessons have you learned on your trek that you would recommend advice to others?
I think the most important lesson I've learned is to be flexible with your plans. Things will fall apart, and you just have to be prepared to deal with that and go with the flow. That's always something I've struggled with, and something the trail has really forced me to work on. I would really just recommend not getting too attached to plans you've made, because out here everything can change in an instant.
It was such a pleasure getting to know Glowworm, and wish her the best of luck finishing her thru hike! To follow along with her adventure:
Namaste, Fellow yogi,
Back Country Momma