This past weekend Reese Witherspoon almost claimed a second Oscar for her portrayal of Cheryl Strayed in Fox Searchlight’s Wild, a film highlighting the real-life story of a woman’s 1,000+ mile attempt at rebirth on the Pacific Crest Trail.


Within the first five minutes of the movie we see Cheryl peel off a battered toenail and send one of her boots tumbling over the edge of a cliff… It’s clear that she’s frustrated, ill-prepared and that she didn’t get her footwear fitted properly.

On April 21 2015, GOPC’s very own Jaala Freeman will hit the PCT without any of these issues and without pursuing an Oscar.  No Jaala and her husband Tommy will be gunning for a far higher honor (in our opinion), the Triple Crown.


What Is The Triple Crown?

Well in this case it’s not a thoroughbred horse capturing the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.  The Triple Crown of Hiking involves completing:

1) The Appalachian Trail
2) The Pacific Crest Trail &
3) The Continental Divide Trail.

That’s just under 8,000 miles of trail, over 1,000,000 feet of vertical gain, and a casual 22 states visited.  Having already knocked out 2,180 north bound miles on the AT back in October of 2012, Jaala and Tommy are chompin’ at the bit to knock out part two, the PCT.

The Pacific Crest Trail

Spanning 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada by way of California, Oregon, and Washington, the Pacific Crest Trail showcases some unbelievable landscapes.  Thru-hikers will experience glaciers of the Sierra Nevada, volcanic peaks in the Cascade Range, expansive desert terrain, and deep forests of the pacific.¹


Managed by the US Forest Service, the PCT crosses 57 major mountain passes, dips into 19 major canyons,  and winds through more 1,000 lakes and tarns, all while maintaining its remote, untamed nature, throughout.²

Conquering the PCT is a colossal undertaking, as the failure rate amongst thru-hiker is exceptionally high; around 50% according to the Pacific Crest Trail Association website.  This being the case we’re going to send Jaala out to tackle it with the right kind of gear.

The Right Pack and The Right Shoes

We’ll continue to highlight Jaala’s PCT gear as we move closer to her expedition but at this point we’ve already picked out her pack and her shoes.  The pack? It won’t look like this:


No, while we can’t knock the ole external frame pack many young hikers have never experienced the pleasure of shouldering, Jaala is keen on the Aura 65 from Osprey, one of Trusty’s favorites.  A women’s specific design combined with Osprey’s new anti-gravity suspension system make the Aura a seamless, comfortable, fit for multi-day backpacking trips, or in this case multi-month.

Osprey Aura 65
Osprey Aura 65

In regards to shoes, we’ll start with making sure they fit.  We’d rather not have Jaala or Tommy prying off each other’s big toenails 50 miles into the trip.  Not a very romantic notion.

As an experienced thru-hiker who’s tackled diverse terrain Jaala is aware that an expedition like the PCT may require a multi-shoe arsenal.  This being the case she plans to start with the Pearl Izumi N2, a trail running model built for a smooth ride with superior traction to battle the toughest terrain has to offer.  Once she hits the Sierras the plan is to switch to the Salewa Firetail, a robust approach shoe for increased support and a more substantial footbed.

Pearl Izumi N2
Pearl Izumi N2
Salewa Firetail
Salewa Firetail


So Where Do We Go From Here?

We’ll have more updates on Jaala’s PCT tip as we draw nearer to her expedition launch.  In fact it’s likely that the next update will be from Jaala herself on the GOPC blog.  And while Reese didn’t emerge from Sunday night a winner, it was great to have some trail action present on Hollywood’s biggest night.


1) Pacific Crest Trail Association.  “Discover The Trail.”  Accessed 2/20/2015
2) Pacific Crest Trail Assocation.  “Long Distance Hiking.”  Accessed 2/20/2015.