It’s with a renewed sense of conviction Alyssa Kroeker has resumed her 4,270-kilometre healing and awareness journey along the Pacific Crest Trail between Canada and Mexico.
“That determination just comes from the trauma I still have to work through. I’m not finished what I started and I still have more to learn about myself,” said Kroeker, 26, in a recent phone interview during a stop in Tehachapi, Calif., southeast of Bakersfield.
“For me, the trail’s not finished with, so I just have to keep plugging along these miles. It’s my dream. “I’m happy for what the trail did for me and others last year, raising $11,000 and raising awareness.”
Kroeker was twice the victim of sexual assault which left her in a suicidal state but eventually led to her decision to hike the trail in 2022 to find the person she once was.
“What was so important last year on the trail was getting messages from people who had been sexually assaulted,” she said.
“The messages saying that I was giving them hope and inspiration to get out of bed in the morning.”
Injuries and a volatile fire season forced her to end the trip after five months and 1,600 kilometres on the trail which runs from southern California to Manning Park.
The importance of what her 2022 trip did for her emotionally? “I like the person I started creating and getting back that person I lost, but there’s more to get. The person who I was on that trail, I love that person and I don’t want that person to go away.”
The former Penticton resident, who now lives in Vancouver, donated the money she raised through her GoFundMe page last year to the South Okanagan Women in Need Society (SOWNS) and the Vancouver Women Against Violence Against Women Rape Crisis Centre.
While she’s not directly involved in fundraising this time around, she still urges people to donate to those organizations. As it turned out, some of last year’s not-so-great experiences on the trail are helping her a lot now.
Among the many challenges she faced the first time around was difficult terrain along with sickness and injury, one incident requiring an airlift to hospital.
“Last year I started right off the bat, I was pushing 14 miles, 18s and that’s really when the first injury came into play. Pushing too hard, pushing too fast,” said Kroeker.
“This year I’m taking it really slow, turtle slow. Last year I had to take pain killers right from day one and so far, I’m 17 days in and haven’t taken one and no blisters. So, it’s slow and steady so I’m ready to do the 15 to 20 miles a day when I need to.”
Kroeker, who grew up in Penticton and later moved to Vancouver, has resumed her trail blog on her website (thebcbackpacker.com) with more frequent accounts of her trek available on: instagram.com/thebcbackpacker/?hl=en