Utah Waymark Gear Co. Ambassador talks about her career path, the trail, and what inspires her...
Where are you from and what brought you to Utah?
I was born and raised in Germany close to the French border. I came to Salt Lake City about 2 ½ years ago to perform a research project at Huntsman Cancer Institute as part of my MD thesis. I realized that cancer research is the way I want to go for my career and so I stayed longer than expected and I am now a PhD student in Population Health Sciences at the University of Utah.
What do you currently do for a living and how did you get into this field?
As mentioned before I am currently a PhD student at the University of Utah. I am a Research Assistant at Huntsman Cancer Institute and oversee an exercise intervention trial in lung cancer patients undergoing surgery. Oncology is one of the fields where there is still so much that we do not know. That’s why I chose this field as my primary research interest and will most likely stay in this area.
Tell us about the trail you just hiked.
In 2016 I thruhiked the PCT. It took me 114 days and was one of a life time experience that I do not want to miss.
Why did you choose this trail?
I had to choose between the 3 main long distance trails in the US to start the attempt of a triple crown. The CDT was out given that I have never done this long if a hike before and 99% of CDT thruhikers have already done one of the others. Thus, it left AT and PCT to choose from. The PCT seemed to be more attractive to me because: i) it does not rain as much, ii) even when it becomes more popular every year, you have still section where you don’t see too many other hikers, and iii) it is very scenic and therefore the better views.
What other big trails have you hiked in the past few years?
I thruhiked the John Muir Trail (JMT), the Sunshine Coast Trail (SCT, 111 miles), Trans Zion Trek (TZT, 50 miles), and Rim2Rim2Rim Trail (46 miles)
How did you get your Trail name?
In the southern California desert I hiked with two guys for a little while, Muffin and Andy. One day we randomly talked about earthquakes. About a week later I ran into them again and they told me that I always said “earthcake” instead of “earthquake” and that it should be my trailname because of i) wrong pronunciation, ii) I am always covered in dirt when I hike a lot of miles on one day, iii) I love baking cakes!
What are the Top 3 pieces of gear you can’t live without?
Backpack: Thru 40L Waymark Gear Co.
Sleeping bag: ENIGMA 20 Enlightened Equipment
Down Jacket: Down Anorak Montbell
What Luxury items do you like to carry that aren’t critical to your survival or safety?
Entire jar of Nutella, hairbrush, playcards
What skill would you like to learn that would help you on the trail?
Rolling a burrito correctly so that none of the filling falls out. I usually thruhike stoveless so tortillas and any kind of filling are my way to fuel up on trail.
Name 1 person, a trail celebrity or other, who has inspired you most to get on the trail.
It was actually a person I met while I hiked along the PCT. Jeff aka “Legend” attempted and completed the calendar triple crown in 2016 and is now the 5th person who has ever accomplished this.
Name 1 person you’d like to meet on the trail.
Anish, the record holder of the PCT. She currently attempts the calendar triple crown 2018 as the first woman ever.
Name 1 animal you have seen or would most like to see on the trail.
I ran into a porcupine on trail, which was my absolute highlight on trail. It got me so many animal points as PCT hiker! I was just walking through the northern California area and saw a bush with needles moving forward on the side of the trail and at first I didn’t know what it was.
What can we learn from hiking in the wilderness?
We can learn to appreciate the beautiful environment we are living in and to appreciate the small things in life.
What lessons can we take from the wilderness, and how can we apply them to Urban life?
We do not have to follow the path that the society defines as the one and only path that will make you reaching your goals. You can take another path if it feels like the right thing to do for you and you will also reach your goals.
What are a few of your favorite hiking trails in Utah?
Too many to name just a few but I will give it a try!
- Close to Salt Lake City, I really like White Pine Lake because of its scenic view and you can basically do it year-round.
- High Uintas: I just LOVE the High Uintas! Try to spend as much time as I can in summer (sometimes also in winter) there. Red Castle Lake is one of my favorite hikes. Very easy 25 mile round trip. Extremely beautiful mountain views!
What is your next big hike that you are planning on?
In July 2018, I will thruhike the Colorado Trail (CT, 500 miles) from Denver to Durango in preparation for my next big thruhike next year: CDT 2019, which I am super stoked about!!
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