Big ideas start with a single spark. My adventurous spirit caught fire three years ago, when I found out I had the audacity to attempt (and succeed at) a cross continental bicycle tour, all while raising money and awareness for affordable housing. That trip drastically shifted the course of my life – and now I find myself at the beginning of an equally large trip: walking across the USA from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Pacific Crest Trail

My partner, Avry Martinson, and I will be taking off on April 18th of this year for a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike. This backpacking and pack animal trail slopes and meanders 2,650 miles through California, Oregon, and Washington, through 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas, and 7 national parks, and passes through 6 of North America’s 7 eco-zones.

While the adventure statistics on this trail are boggling and exciting, the most important and motivating part of this trip for us is that we are creating 20 scholarships to get low-income youth into wilderness trips. Our cycling tour taught us that we could make a change in the world and that we could transform a selfish experience (cycling around for fun) into something that truly made a difference. All – yes, 100 percent! – of the donations we raise go directly to the scholarships. With our goal of $10,000, 20 kids can have life-altering, leadership developing experiences in the wilderness. And they will have a chance to learn what we did on our first adventure: that with their own strength and ability, they have the capacity to accomplish amazing things.

Pacific Crest Trail
Girls Rock program, with the girls and their instructor.

GOLD/BOLD, the incredible Seattle-based YMCA program we are partnering with, teaches kids leadership skills in the great outdoors. The program gets a diverse group of kids, aged 11-18, into the wild to learn about themselves and the world around them. More than 90% of the youth say they gain new skills, build confidence, appreciate the environment and value difference in others through these trips. They’re the next generation – and we believe youth that wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity should be able to experience the magic of wilderness firsthand. After all, the youth in and around Seattle now will be those who decide what happens to the trails and wilderness that we love so much in the future.

Pacific Crest Trail
Girls Rock program, teaching girls to rock climb.

Avry and I are currently in the final stages of preparing for our trip. Our house is a bustle of selling off possessions, purchasing new gear, pouring over maps and sweeping up dirt and mud from our endless hiking trips. We have our tentative itinerary in place – which we created by looking through a trail guide and many blogs, and by using an online tool ( to log the mileage we hope to cover each day.

Pacific Crest Trail
Testing our gear in the desert – Photo By Avry Martinson

Next on our list of items to tackle are mail drops. We are putting together boxes prepped with food and gear to be mailed by family to particularly tiny resupply stops. And, of course, we will continue to train up to our lift-off date. After that, all we have left to do is put one foot in front of the other and catch fire on the next adventure.

Editor’s Note – If you’re interested in learning more about Arielle and Avry’s adventure or donating to this fantastic cause, visit their site or their donation page.

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