078: Laura Johnston- Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trail through hiker and Trail Steward

February 20, 2018

Laura tells us about her thru hiking experience on the PCT and Appalachian trails and her work as a Trail Steward for The Pacific Crest Trail Association.

Show Notes

First Exposure to the Outdoors

I grew up in a family that was into traveling and into the outdoors but wasn't exactly a backpacking or camping family. So I got more into all of that as a young adult in college and then afterwards my parents had traveled with us all around. They liked to be active outside but we just weren't exactly like the camping family. So when I was in college I went to Virginia Tech University in southwest Virginia, the Blue Ridge mountains in Appalachia area. I used to get out and go with friends for day hikes down there. Parts of the mountains down there are a part of the Appalachian Trail so that's really where I got my first exposure. I also started to really enjoy hiking and then after college I just got a little bit more into it  and transitioned from a day hiker to small weekend backpacks. I really wasn't doing big trips yet. The biggest trip I did before I started the Appalachian Trail was a five day supported trip in Glacier National Park with a large group. Otherwise I would just kind of go out on my own or with small groups here in Virginia Maryland D.C. area for a weekend trip. It's kind of like a little seed got planted and started growing my hunger to do bigger hikes.

Things we talked about

Salazon Chocolate

Pacific Crest Trail Association

Leave No Trace

Friends of the Inyo

The Pacific Crest Trail

Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Advice, tips

Yeah I would say just start hiking on the weekends and see if you actually like hiking. You know sometimes people they think they want to hike because it sounds exciting it sounds like a big adventure. But the main thing you have to do is figure out do I like hiking. You can't figure out if you like you're right except by striking out and go hiking.

And the other thing is if you have one bad experience when you think you might still like it just get out and try again, or go out with different people, or seek out another opportunity. Don't let bad weather or bad companionship or sore feet turn you off. It's good. Another thing it is really important and I think is becoming more and more of a voice in the outdoor industry is go out there even if there's other people that don't look like you or don't sound like you. They're not the same colors as you or they're not the same ethnicity background, sexual persuasion or physical model. There are other people out there that look like you and somebody who's through hiked long trails. I feel like there still are a lot of people that look similar but there is a lot more diversity than you think.

Another important thing is we can all invite other people. There's so many great organizations out there now that are trying to amplify the voice of this. I got into it because I was into it and I liked it. But there were people that influenced me. I did have friends that were more experienced or that they knew the ropes and they invited me out. And so I kind of feel like now anything I want to do I make sure that are other people that might be thinking about it.

Other Outdoor Activities



Favorite Books

Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

The Nature Fix by Florence Williams

Best Gear Purchase under $100

Darn Tough socks

Sawyer water filter

Patagonia Baggies

Apps, Tools, Podcasts

Sounds of the Trail podcast

Connect with Laura



Laura's website


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