Gore Bay girl Danielle Brunetti hikes entire Pacific Crest Trail

The Recorder

GORE BAY—They have done it! Danielle Brunetti and her friend Darren Quesnel have completed the 4,200 kilometre hike of the entire Pacific Coast Trail (PCT).

“We did it! We successfully walked 4,200 kilometres!” the couple enthused on their Facebook page on August 25. “Surprisingly the last day and the last few hours of hiking the PCT did not lag on but instead flew by! We were reminiscing about the trails, sharing our favourite sections and telling stories from the hike. It was exciting to walk up to the monument although we were still 12 kilometres from any civilization so we had to continue walking to get to the first town. When we got to Manning Park we celebrated by indulging at the restaurant with multiple plates of food and were finally able to dry our clothes.”

“We walked through 25 national forests and seven national parks and hiked up and down a range of elevations from sea level to 14,000 foot mountains! We started at the Mexican border on April 20, and walked into Canada on August 15. Taking almost four months we were proud of ourselves for finishing and staying as dedicated and passionate about the mountains as it only got harder each day!”

“It was difficult to imagine being done the trail since we made hiking and camping our lifestyle for so long,” they wrote. “We learned a lot through the hike such as how to reduce our pack weight and go ultralight, properly read topographic maps, improve our ability to navigate and predict weather, ration food and water, know what it’s like to go without simple luxuries, and the valuable things we learned about ourselves and each other.”

“It was an amazing and forever memorable experience! It opened our eyes up to the wonders of the world in nature and people. Everyone we met along the way were amazing and hospitable. Knowing how much there is to experience in the world it will be hard to decide what’s next! First things first, visiting our family while putting our feet up and feasting!”

“Once we downsized what we took with us we lost 14 pounds of weight, without food and water. Basically what we had was a tent, one sleeping bag, storm rests, a flashlight, toiletries, camera, and passports and that was about it,” Ms. Brunetti told the Recorder. “We only wore the clothes we had on and a rain jacket as well. Our camera was a luxury.”

“When we arrived at each town we would go to a grocery store for food to take along and that provided us with a lot of variety,” said Ms. Brunetti. “While we were in a town we would enjoy a feast…I could eat a tub of ice cream,” she quipped.

She was surprised “that it was a lot more of a social trip than we expected it would be. We met lots of nice people and received lots of support, especially in areas like California where ‘trail angels’ would leave tubs of water for us. We would get to a river that was dry and they would have left water for us, or a cooler with pop or chocolate, they call it trail magic.”

The couple travelled an average of 30 miles or 50 kilometres per day. “On the mountains you could look back at the beautiful scenery and see the 15 miles we had already walked; it was one of the best feelings ever to see this.”

There was a lot of wildlife to be seen on the hike, said Ms. Brunetti. “We saw three bears, all black, and a beautiful fox, which came right out in front of me on the trail. We also saw lots of coyotes, mountain goats, sheep and elk. The elk blended in so well in the surroundings that when you spooked them you would hear them walking through the forest.”

There were also deer, ants, snakes, black flies and mosquitoes. “The rattlesnakes were scary to me,” continued Ms. Brunetti. “Darren was a manager in a reptile department and was comfortable with them, but I wasn’t. Some of those we saw were thicker than my fist.”

“There was incredible scenery everywhere, and you had to remind yourself to stop and look because I’ve never seen this before or probably ever again,” said Ms. Brunetti. “The nature, scenery and people made it amazing,” said Ms. Brunetti.

Last summer, the couple kayaked Lake Superior from Thunder Bay and the North Channel to Manitoulin Island. Previously, they toured the outback in Australia and hiked Tasmania in 2012.

“There is definitely no shortage of adventures we can choose from next, the only problem is just choosing one,” said Ms. Brunetti. “We want to continue to travel, and maybe on Facebook we will ask people what we should do next.”