About the Author: Raised in Southern California, Dyana Carmella became an adventure seeker at a very young age. After attending collage on a volleyball scholarship, she graduated with a Psychology major and a double minor in Broadcast Journalism and Film & Television from San Jose State University. Carmella then worked as a journalist in the entertainment industry specializing in international on-location shooting and technical advances in equipment. Carmella has backpacked around the world visiting places like Iceland, New Zealand, Australia, Croatia, Mexico, Spain and all over the United States. Her love for hiking and the outdoors was sparked as a kid after camping trips with her family. Her favorite place to hike is the Eastern Sierras in California and in 2019 she completed her biggest thru hike to date, the Pacific Northwest Trail, which spans 1200 miles from Glacier National Park in Montana to Cape Alava in Washington. Currently she’s a creative director and journalist and has a YouTube channel featuring the outdoors with spotlights on gear, food and profiles. Instagram: @dyanacarmella.
After taking on the 1200-mile Pacific Northwest Trail, which spans from the Eastern end of Glacier National Park in Montana to the Pacific Ocean at Cape Alava in Washington, saying goodbye to the trail after backpacking for 71 days was rough. The trail can teach you so much. It changes you in ways I can’t fully explain with words, but I’ll try.
On the last day evening of PNT, sitting on a beach along the Washington coast, I decided to write a goodbye letter to the trail. Although it physically left me battered and bruised, the trail taught me how to fly and soar higher than I ever thought possible.
Dear Pacific Northwest Trail,
As I cross the finish line after hiking 71 days on your stunning and wild landscape, I want to you to know I hate you….. and thank you…. for I will never be the same.
You taught me to feel comfortable with being uncomfortable. You made me scream with frustration, cry and fiercely throw my trekking poles. You pushed me past my limit. Just when I couldn’t handle anymore… you pushed me harder. Over and over and I fought like hell. Climbing, slipping and falling…. constantly falling…. But always rising. You taught me to be a stronger woman. To wake up, gear up and stare down a mountain and under my breath, softly whisper, “Let’s fucking dance.” To welcome each challenge and venture through the wilderness a fearless crusader. A force of nature.
You taught me not to fear the darkness but embrace the silence. I learned to be silent and to be still. When the woods were dead quiet, I learned to listen and to feel the peaceful sense of freedom only found in the wilderness. You showed me how precious nature is. From the vast mountain ranges to the tiniest wild flower. It needs my protection. It needs all our protection.
I learned I have an affinity for a beautiful lake and bag of Kettle potato chips, mosquitoes have zero fear and residents of Montana consider 10:00AM a good time to start day-drinking. You taught me to look past political differences and realize we’re all after the pursuit of happiness and the ability to feed our family.
You showed me a thru hikers life is one of heartbreak. The views, towns, moments, sunrises, sunsets and people come in and out of life in a flash. Goodbyes are hard. Having to say them over and over is unbearable. You taught me to fight through the pain and heartbreak to find the strength to move forward. Even with eyes full of tears, I must move forward and never look back. For wild hearts can’t be broken.
Tonight, as I gaze out over the Pacific Ocean on my last day on trail, I thank you. You taught me to fly.
Out of the hundreds of goodbyes I’ve had to say over the last 71 days, saying farewell to you is the hardest. Tomorrow morning I’ll be gone, never to look back, to move forward a wilder and wiser woman, for tomorrow the sun will rise and a new adventure awaits.
Love, Dyana Carmella
Aka “Crystal Power”