What did you do this past summer? Cameron Hill, 20, of Snohomish, hiked the entire length of the 2,660-mile Pacific Crest Trail.
His solo journey began April 4 at Campo, California, on the Mexican border, and ended Sept. 18 at Manning Park, British Columbia. Along the way, Hill dealt with snow, swollen rivers, fires and a long, hot dry spell. It wasn’t the easiest year to through-hike the trail.
Because he was only 19 when he started, Hill was given the trail name “Baby” by fellow hikers he met on the way. His dad, Glacier Peak High School teacher and coach Brian Hill, said Cameron came away from the trip with the confidence to tackle anything.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Ellensburg, and grew up in Bothell and Snohomish. I graduated from Glacier Peak High School in 2015. When I was a sophomore, I started working as a lifeguard at the Snohomish Aquatic Center and stayed for four years until I left for the Pacific Crest Trail.
When did you decide you would hike the entire length of the PCT? Had you done a lot of hiking previous to that? Why did you want to go solo?
My dad brought up the idea of hiking the PCT in the fall of 2016. He didn’t have to convince me. I loved the idea of the adventure and meeting new people from all across the country and the world. Before this, I had little hiking experience. My family is big on hunting, fishing and camping, so I’d go on small hikes to places like Eightmile Lake. It takes time to prepare for this journey. I spent months, with my dad’s help, researching the trail, acquiring the gear and getting ready for the trip. It’s hard to find someone else who wants to do the hike, let alone has the time off from life, so I went solo. But it didn’t take long to meet people on the trail.
Who took you to California?
I flew down to Los Angeles the day before. My cousin Brandon picked me up and drove me four hours to Campo where the trail starts. He dropped me off and said, “Walk home, cuz!” That was a weird feeling.
What was the most difficult part of the trip?
This year was especially difficult on the trail. The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains melted so fast, the river crossings became very dangerous. The wildfires in Oregon and Washington made it difficult to breathe. There was a section near Mount Jefferson where I had to detour around because of the fires. Sometimes, the hard part is not the physicality of the trail, it’s the mental toughness it takes being away from home, alone and sometimes just being bored. It’s knowing you’ve walked so far, yet you have so many hundreds of miles left to go.
What was the most enjoyable?
After a long, hot day I ended up in the small town of Belden, California. They were having a festival. Everyone was naked and I was able to swim and sleep along the river. But the most enjoyable part really was meeting people, not just on the trail, but in all of the small towns I crossed through. They brought back my faith in humanity. So many strangers were willing to help me when I needed a place to stay or a hot meal. On my birthday, a couple brought me a cake and gave me a tour of the town Lake Isabella. There were so many times people took time to be trail angels and help hikers, it was amazing.
How did you get your trail name?
It was simply because I was the youngest of my “trail family.” It officially stuck when we hitched a ride into town one day and the only seat left for me was a child’s car seat. There was no escaping “Baby” after that.
Who picked you up at trail’s end?
My mom and dad (who are divorced) drove together to Manning Park in Canada to pick me up. After more than five months of thinking about being home and excited to be done, actually getting home was disappointing. Reality sunk in that my adventure was over, and all the friends I met were all going home. I hope to stay in contact with many of them.
Now will you hike the Appalachian Trail?
Time will tell, but as of right now I don’t plan on it. As the days drag on, the itch for another adventure sets in, so it could be a possibility.
What keeps you busy right now?
I am working a part-time job staging houses, and I plan on continuing school in the winter. I took a year off from Everett Community College to hike the PCT. I plan on finishing my associates degree and then continue my education to work in health care.
What else do you like to do?
I like to rock climb. I also love music, so I enjoy going to concerts. I spend a lot of time with my friends hanging out and, of course, love my family time.
Three things you always have in your fridge?
Well, I’m 20 and broke, so three things I always have in my fridge are pizza sauce, chocolate milk and LaCroix soda.
If you could dine with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
Very tough question. He doesn’t go very far back into history, but I’d say Chris Farley because he was so funny. Dinner with him would be so entertaining; we could get into some trouble.
What is something most people would be surprised to know about you?
I come from a very athletic family; both my parents played sports and my dad’s a basketball coach. I don’t play sports, but I love to run.
What question should I have asked you?
Do you still like peanut butter? NO!! And no more protein bars, trail mix, beef jerky, oatmeal, dehydrated food and tortillas for a long time.