Hello, world of The Trek!
I’m Vienna, and I’m super excited to be joining The Trek’s team of 2024 trail bloggers.
How I Got Here
My parents got me started backpacking at a very young age — back when I was more likely to be in a pack than to be carrying a pack. I’ve kept it up ever since, and these days, you will be pleased to know, I can and do carry all my own gear.
I was born in Sweden and spent my early childhood in the Pacific Northwest, so being outdoorsy was just part of the package. Some of my earliest memories are of hiking amongst giant cedars, watching the yearly salmon spawn, camping in the San Juan islands, and so much more. Then my family swapped mountains for oceans, moving onto a sailboat that took us from the PNW to Nova Scotia (via the Panama Canal) and finally washed us ashore in Virginia. It took several years; sailboats aren’t all that fast. And there was still hiking along the way, from the cloud forests of Central America to the uninhabited islands off the coast of Nova Scotia.
On the east coast, the Appalachians are our closest mountain range, so off we went into the ancient hills, accompanied by our faithful Standard Poodle, Gwinna (the best dog ever). My sister and I, to everyone’s excitement, could actually make a reasonable contribution to the carrying of the gear by that point.
As anyone familiar with US geography can tell you, the Appalachians are a whole different world than the mountains of the west coast, with their own set of quirks, challenges, and rewards. Although we’ve learned to appreciate — even love — them for what they are, the siren song of the west coast continued to call.
After several years in Virginia, I moved to California to attend Stanford University and stuck around after graduation to join the ranks of Silicon Valley. While I was out there, I took the chance to get acquainted with the magnificent Sierra Nevada. Those years gave rise to my first solo backpacking trip, a trip involving several feet of snow on the PCT, dodging numerous wildfires, and more stories than I could count.
Uinta Highline Trail, 2021 • photo by my sister
In 2021, my dad and sister and I thru-hiked the Uinta Highline Trail in northern Utah. We did the trail in 12 days, with no resupply along the way. It was pretty cool. At ~105 miles, the Highline is far from the longest thru-hike out there, but it was quite a spectacular one. The highs were high (literally and figuratively) and the lows were low (more figuratively than literally) and we learned a lot and no one got disowned, so all in all it was a great success! We already have plans for return visits.
Where I’m Going
These days I’m back on the east coast and tromping around the Appalachians again. I miss the Sierra, though, which brings us to this year’s goal: the High Sierra Trail.
It’s not a long thru-hike like the PCT or even the JMT, and it’s not a full-on high route like the Sierra High Route, but it covers some similar territory. I’ve had my eye on it as a nice approachable return to the Sierra that’s not quite as well-known as some of its neighbor trails; I’ve always liked getting off the beaten path a bit.
The backup plan in case of not getting HST permits was the aforementioned return visit to the Uintas, not to do the Highline again but to more generally explore that area. That will have to wait, though — the wilderness permit gods were generous, and the HST permits are in hand! Well, the reservation is in hand, anyway. The permits themselves need to be picked up en route to the trail.
If you meet me in the wilderness, you can recognize me as one of those occasional weirdos who carries a full-sized camera around (even though I have a phone with multiple quite good cameras). As with backpacking, I got my start in photography young. Yes it’s extra weight to carry, but you can pry that camera from my cold dead hands.
Lots more to come soon. Welcome aboard!
Feature image: Sierra National Forest, 2017 • photo by my dad
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