What is hikertrash?

When Daniel “Ratatouille” Hepokoski first contacted me because he was interested in covering the topic of “hikertrash” on his new podcast series, Trailside Radio, I was happy to oblige…trying to define hikertrash for those who aren’t hikers can sometimes be a confusing discussion. Yes, it makes sense why we self identify as dirty on a long distance trail, but Ratatouille, like others I’ve spoken to over the years, wasn’t sure he wanted to call himself trash.

Thus the podcast. What is hikertrash?

Mountain Logo for visors_whole letters

Ratatouille will be getting on his first long distance trail, the PCT, in a few weeks, and will be attempting to continue this podcast series; an ambitious but exciting proposition. When he asked me why someone would want to call themselves hikertrash, I suggested he hike for a month and then we revisit the issue.

Take a listen to the Trailside Radio podcast:

Thanks for listening!

To expand on the podcast a bit, here are some photos detailing more about my hikertrash origin story:

first screen

My first screen: a curtain stapled onto a picture frame from goodwill.

My first designs included bikes and a kayak for Kirk, ever the water lover.

The first designs included mostly bikes. Did I mention I love bikes?

Back in 2009 on Lint's second thru-hike of the PCT I printed my first "hikertrash" on his pack when he passed through Bend.

Back in 2009 on Lint‘s second thru-hike of the PCT I printed my first “hikertrash” on his pack when he passed through Bend.


Kirk helped me build a screen printing press out of 95% recycled materials for 2014’s PCT Days.

Now we make a variety of products in a rainbow of colors.

Now we make a variety of products in a rainbow of colors.


and TEMPORARY tattoos! (I love temporary tattoos)


Hikertrash has had a good first year…2 trips to the OR Show and hikers wore our hats on the triple crown trails. Dude!

Brian and I continue to come up with new designs

Brian and I continue to come up with new designs (this one will be available soon!)


and I’ll be gathering more design ideas on the CDT in a few short weeks

As I said, getting dirty on the trail is the big equalizer. we are all hikertrash.

Having Fun on a Thru-Hike

One of the reasons I keep coming back to long distance backpacking is the pure enjoyment of it all. Sure there is pain, and dirt and a fair amount of suffering, but there is a lot of fun.

When experiences are as intense as thru-hiking can be, you learn a lot about your fellow hikers in those times. Seeing a person’s true colors leads to deep connections that often span years between hikes, and often those most memorable times include a lot of laughter.

Friends, and very funny guys, Squatch and Jester are great at putting those ridiculous moments on film. You should check out Squatch’s series, Walk, Still Walking, Even More Walking and Walked. He caught me on film in Even More Walking at the Hiker Heaven hostel in 2006…while he was interviewing me he was also deploying a fart machine.

Jester’s series Wizards of the PCT and Embrace the Brutality are freaking hilarious, for anyone looking to learn about the non-serious side of thru-hiking, check out these two guys’ movies.

Having fun can include carrying ridiculous things (you gotta find out what the Wizard is in Jester’s movie). I won a whoopie cushion in a raffle at the PCT kick-off in 2006 and carried it for most of the trail.

Why? Cause.


Mags deemed my whoopie cushion not useless, so I carried it.


Yep, still have it on the Oregon/California border, 1700 miles later.

Oh yeah, did I mentioned that I shaved my head prior to hiking the PCT? I had a going away party where for every $5 someone donated to my hiking fund, they could take some scissors to my hair. At the end of the night we shaved it all off and also shaved “PCT” into the back of my head (my friends cut enough of my hair off that I was able to buy the digital camera I took on the trail that year!). That lead to lots more shaving that night…




Why not? Lint did it too.

So one of the best parts of the PCT for me was meeting my dear friend NEMO. That girl knows how to have fun. Along the hike she taught me how to knit.

Really, knitting is a pretty good hobby to have on a long trail. Yarn doesn’t weigh much, and you can make useful things like hats for hikers while you walk!


We would knit on all the passes in the Sierra.


I finished my first hat at VVR for my AT hiking friend little g (he later wore it on his PCT hike!)

Before long we had a whole crew of hikers knitting. We started calling ourselves the High Alpine Knitting Club...here we are on Donohue Pass.

Before long we had a whole crew of hikers knitting. We started calling ourselves the High Alpine Knitting Club…here we are on Donohue Pass.

And then there was the sword. When we got to Ashland, NEMO and I decided to see a Shakespeare play (Ashland is well known for their Shakespeare Festival each year). Well, it just so happened that NEMO found a lightweight sword that she had to give me. (My trail name is She-ra after all, Princess of the Power).


I decided to knight her on the street in Ashland. (Yes, those really were our hiking clothes, we would hit up thrift stores along the trail for new duds when our old ones were wearing out)


And I carried that sword to Canada.

The point of all this (oh man, I have so many more stories!) is to have fun on your hike. Sometimes the seriousness of day-to-day life doesn’t allow for ridiculous antics that you can get up to on a long trail.

Life is far too short to be so serious.


Donna Saufley got in on the shaving action in 2006 too.


Bama & NEMO at Hiker Town. Not quite sure what’s going on there.


Calf tats courtesy of NEMO

Transformation as Inspiration

What 2015 really means.

The new year, as I expressed in one of my last blog posts, isn’t just about hiking the Continental Divide Trail in 2015, it’s part of a progression I have come to see as normal. Work, hike, study, hike, work, hike, work, work, work, hike, hike.

Yes, my resume to some seems scattered and patchy…and some might see that as flighty and unreliable…but if you ask me, everything I’ve done since college has had a logical progress based on what I’m passionate about.


Like working with the teachers in my village of Zogore, Burkina Faso, during the two years of my Peace Corps service to paint world maps at the schools.


Or getting a masters degree in England in design. Why not! Knowledge!


And leading backcountry trail crews in Colorado.


And helping 3 backpackers lighten up in backpacking class I taught at Portland Community College (hiking part of the Oregon Coast Trail was part of the class!)

Summed up? new experiences, creativity, knowledge, wilderness, optimism, people, passion.

And seeking that has taken different forms: long distance hiking, writing, design, travel, volunteerism, graduate school, real jobs.

But at the core of my progression from Peace Corps to hiking to museum work to grad school to a design job, back to hiking, trail crew, hiking, wilderness therapy, hiking and now a sweet job as the editor of a local arts magazine (and then some more hiking), has been that quest to learn something new, to see a new place, and have a new experience; it has always been a progression.

Sometimes the progression is literal, like hiking from Mexico to Canada on the PCT in 2006.

Sometimes the progression is literal, like hiking from Mexico to Canada on the PCT in 2006.

2015 means continuing the progression.

And I can’t wait to find out what I’ll get up to next!