Trip on the PCT is life changing for creator of popular podcast

When Daniel “Ratatouille” Hepokoski decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, his family and friends wanted him to keep a blog about the trip.

He decided that, instead, he’d do an audioblog. He figured it would be easier. And then, he figured, if he was going to be carrying all the equipment, he might as well do a podcast.

It was certainly not easier than a blog. It was, however, the best thing about his trip.

“That experience has eclipsed the hiking,” he said. “It’s been a bigger life changing experience than hiking the trail.”

Hepokoski produces Trailside Radio, a weekly, hour-long podcast. He uses basic audio equipment and does the editing on his phone.

Hepokoski started April 21, and kind of got a slow start. He sprained his ankle early on while retreating from a Mojave green rattlesnake, which he describes as looking like the CGI-definition of an evil snake. That forced him to take some time off to recover and also to skip a few sections to make up time.

He doesn’t mind, though. Setting foot on every step of the trail wasn’t what really mattered to him.

One of his favorite interviews was with hiker Paul Hacker. Hacker talked about Greg Hummel, a PCT hiker and well-respected trail advocate.

It was an emotional interview and Hummel’s family was moved by it. Until that point, Hepokoski hasn’t realized how much he had touched other people with his podcast. The feedback he got encouraged him to keep going, even when it got hard.

“Getting stories from people and sharing them with others is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” he said.

Why Ratatouille? It’s a reference to the chef who happens to be a rat in the movie “Ratatouille.” Hepokoski picked up his name based on his unusual cooking style. He dehydrates food, separately, in advance. Then, once he’s on the trail, he mix and matches out of his many bags to get the exact meal he wants that day.

Favorite piece of gear: An orange ukulele that came from a hiker box, was passed along between hikers and eventually ended up with him. He taught himself to play on the trail.

Author’s note: I met Daniel at Dinsmores Hiker Haven in Baring. I had just finished chatting with Andrea and Jerry Dinsmore. I wandered into the bunkhouse, with the vague plan of cornering whoever was in there and asking them for an interview. With the kind of luck that I’ve started to associate with all my dealings with the PCT, Daniel was the only one in the bunkhouse. And, because he’d just spent months on the trail interviewing people, he was perfectly willing to sit down and answer my questions. Like me, he loves interviewing people. I can totally understand how his podcast has been a life-changing experience.

Talk to us

More in Life

R.J. Whitlow, co-owner of 5 Rights Brewery, has recently expanded to the neighboring shop, formerly Carr's Hardware. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
County craft breweries’ past lives: hardware store, jail

Most breweries in Snohomish County operate in spaces that formerly housed something far different — from boat builders to banks.

Caption: Stay-at-home parents work up to 126 hours a week. Their labor is valuable even without a paycheck.
A mother’s time is not ‘free’ — and they put in 126-hour workweeks

If you were to pay a stay-at-home mom or dad for their time, it would cost nearly $200,000 a year.

CloZee performs during the second day of Summer Meltdown on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 in Darrington, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The psychedelic fest Summer Meltdown is back — and in Monroe

The music and camping event is on for July 28-31, with a new venue along the Skykomish River.

How to cultivate inner peace in the era of COVID, insurrection

Now more than ever, it’s important that we develop and practice relaxation and mindfulness skills that calm our minds and bodies.

Budapest’s House of Terror.
Cold War memories of decadent Western pleasures in Budapest

It’s clear that the younger generation of Eastern Europeans has no memory of the communist era.

Gardening at spring. Planting tree in garden. Senior man watering planted fruit tree at his backyard
Bare root trees and roses have arrived for spring planting

They’re only available from January through March, so shop early for the tree or rose you want.

Help! My Expedia tour credit is about to expire

Kent York cancels his tour package in Norway that he booked through Expedia after the pandemic outbreak. But the hotel won’t offer a refund or extend his credit. Is he about to lose $1,875?

Veteran Keith F. Reyes, 64, gets his monthly pedicure at Nail Flare on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021 in Stanwood, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
No more gnarly feet: This ‘Wounded Warrior’ gets pedicures

Keith Reyes, 64, visits a Stanwood nail salon for “foot treatments” that help soothe blast injuries.

Photo Caption: A coal scuttle wasn't always used for coal; it could hold logs or collect ashes. This one from about 1900 sold for $125 at DuMouchelles in Detroit.
(c) 2022 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.
Coal scuttles of days long gone by now used for fire logs

This circa 1900 coal scuttle is made of oak with brass trim, and sold for $125 at auction.

Most Read