Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lena Sessions: Reaching for High Adventures on the Pacific Crest Trail

Let me introduce you to Lena Sessions, an adventurous young woman who definitely is paddling her own canoe. Lena, 24, radiates enthusiasm and embraces challenges. She has traveled to more than 20 countries in Europe, South America and Asia.

Lena has just embarked on the biggest challenge of her life. On April 26, she and her friend Adriana began their journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches 2,663 miles from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. They expect to spend five months hiking the trail.

She is capturing her thoughts in her blog, Honey Bear Hikes. She also is raising money for

In her blog, Lena writes: "Every mile I hike is one dollar donated to SheJumps, a non-profit organization that provides community and support for more women (like me) to experience the outdoors. Please consider a donation and help me reach my goal of hiking 2,663 miles and raising $2,663 for SheJumps."

I had the opportunity to meet Lena at my church, Camas Friends, when she was visiting her dad, Henry Sessions, shortly after she returned from her backpacking trip in Nepal. I peppered her with questions about Nepal, and she shared some of her adventures with me. Before Nepal, she had spent the summer working in Alaska, shuttling tourists around and backpacking when she could.

Lena was only seven when her dad took her on her first backpacking adventure. "I had my own little backpack," she said. "We hiked one mile in and camped."

She has been camping and communing with nature ever since.

"Being out in the woods answered so many questions for me," Lena said. "I love the trail culture, meeting interesting people and seeing beautiful scenery along the way." 

She first began considering backpacking the arduous Pacific Crest Trail after her college graduation when she and some friends backpacked along the Colorado Trail.

Here is Lena's advice to girls or young women who are considering trying something new or scary: "If you have an idea in your mind--something you're really excited about--whatever idea you have is probably something that will bring you a lot of joy. Just starting it is the scariest part. Hiking is just putting one foot in front of the other."

But planning a 2,600-mile backpacking trip was a new challenge for her. Deciding how much clothing and gear to carry on the trip took much consideration and research. She blogged about her decisions here.

"The more weight you carry in your backpack, the more pressure on your joints, so you want to make your load as light as possible," Lena said by phone just a few days before embarking on her journey.

When Lena researched the PCT she found that from every two to seven days, they will be near a town with a post office or a little store to purchase supplies. So she mailed herself a new pair of hiking shoes every 400 miles along the trail.

"When you start backpacking, there's a sense of simplicity. You discover you really don't need much to be happy. Backpacking is a good reminder of that," she said.

She added, "In my life I have been blessed with many inspiring friends and mentors who have made it possible for me to undertake the Pacific Crest Trail. As a way to express my gratitude for these wonderful people, I am raising funds to benefit SheJumps, a nonprofit organization that provides young women with opportunities to test themselves in the outdoors. Finishing this trail with the knowledge that my efforts have provided support for other women to reach their potential will make this experience worth it for me."

If you'd like to donate to SheJumps on Lena's behalf, click here.

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