I wasn’t supposed to fall in love out here, but I couldn’t help myself.  I met him on the CDT on my first night out of Grants, NM. His trail name was Miles, and he loved hiking.  What was worse was that he had eyes that melted my heart.  

Damnit.  Not again.  No no noooo.


I first heard about the stray dog on my walk out of Grants.  Another hiker messaged me to say that a stray dog was found wandering around on trail following hikers.  My group made it about 20 miles that day and I had forgotten about the stray dog by the time we set up camp.

I forgot about it until a dog randomly wandered into our camp.  We scratched our heads, laughed, and gave him water.  He was covered in ticks and had no collar… most likely a stray vs runaway. I ate my dinner in my tent and stared at the dog through the bug netting.  I didn’t want him to become my problem.  This was MY cheese.  Go away, dog.  And if you even touch my tent, heaven help you.  That night, he curled up to sleep inches from my head.  I heard him quietly sighing all night.

The next day, my group woke up really early for a morning summit on Mt Taylor.  As I slid on my backpack, I saw the dog heading away from the trail.  Yes!!  I could sneak away.  This would be easy!

It didn’t work.  The dog magically beat me to the summit of Mt Taylor.   When I made it up there, he gave me this judging look like “Finally..  What took so long? Are you sure you’re a thruhiker?”

Crap. I looked at the dog and then 5,000 feet down at Grants.  Why did town have to be so far away?  It wasn’t even an option to go back now.  I tried to ignore him as much as I could, but the dog just kept following us anyway.  We talked about what to do with him.  Do we throw rocks at him?  Do we feed him our “extra” food and call an animal rescue group in 80 miles?  Will the dog even last that long?  I checked my map and tried to find closer towns, but we were in the middle of nowhere.  Was there even a “right” thing to do?  I had no answers, but I started rationing my food.. just in case.

I finally gave in and started feeding the dog my food.  I am weak.  I couldn’t abandon him to his slow death. He made it obvious that he would just keep following us to our next town.  And I didn’t want to look behind me and watch him starve to death.

I finally got phone reception on the side of a mountain.  The dog and I took a break in the shade while I called an animal rescue group.  The lady on the other end listened to my story and seemed honestly concerned.  But she told me that she was currently full.  She told me to call back when I made it to town.  I clung to hope that someone could help us.

I called back the animal rescue group when I was 3 hours from town.  There was no answer, so I left a message on voicemail.  I also tried animal control and the non-emergency police number.  They all went to voicemail and I left messages for them to call me back.  A mile from town, I started to worry… Nobody had called me back, and I absolutely couldn’t keep the dog in my hotel room.  I guessed that he wasn’t housebroken, and would pee and poop all over my hotel room, not to mention his tick infestation.  In one last ditch effort, Craiglist and the animal shelter in Grants were checked for missing dogs.  Nothing came back.

I briefly thought of keeping the dog on trail.  But it wasn’t the right thing for me to do.  The unofficial motto for the CDT is “Embrace the Brutality.”  I willingly signed up for this sufferfest and the dog did not. It simply wasn’t fair for him to walk to Canada with me. Plus I am hitting some serious Colorado snow in the next section, and it would be dangerous for Miles to join me.

I had to make a painful decision.  I looked at him, tears pooling in my eyes and told him that I loved him, that he was a good dog who deserved a family, and that we were out of options.  We walked by a few farms and I turned to him and said “No!”.  He looked confused until I said it again.  “NO NO NO”.  I walked away quickly.  The last time that I saw him, he was sitting under a sage bush.  It broke my heart, but I didn’t know what else to do.  And who knows…maybe animal control would have put him down anyway.  Maybe this actually was the best option for him, even if it ripped me apart to walk away.

Miles.. happy trails to my sweet boy..  it was a pleasure to hike with you.  And I am so sorry.

For everything.

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

CDT: Silver City, NM to Grants, NM

The other day, I was hiking, and suddenly, the sky opened up and it started to hail.  I looked up and smiled.  The hail was a welcome relief from the constant sun and heat.  I quickly pulled out my umbrella and kept walking without missing a beat. 

I eventually caught up to my friend sitting under a tree.  He was talking to an older gentleman– maybe mid 60s, who was dressed in a clean khaki outfit. The older man introduced himself to me as “Doug the Hermit” and told me that he had a cabin tucked away close by.

What??  A hermit?  Really??  I had never met a hermit before, but somehow I envisioned black robes, and a long white beard.  Maybe someone who looked like Gandalf or Santa Claus?  Apparently, I was totally wrong!

Hanging out with Doug the Hermit

Doug told us that he was a Roman Catholic hermit and he had been living here, alone, for 18 years.  He had friends in “the real world” and leaves his cabin once a year to get supplies.  I kept asking him if he ever got lonely, and he would laugh and shake his head. He made it sound like he had plenty to occupy his time.. making meals, gardening, hiking, and praying.  We kept asking him questions about his life… and then I asked him if his cabin had wifi and he laughed at me.  Whoops, guess not.   🙂

My hiker friend and I had more miles to make, so we had to leave Doug.  That night, I camped at the Gila River with 4 other hikers.  And I kept thinking about Doug.  And the more I thought about him, the more impressed I was with his religious hermitage.  I have spent many nights camping, but what makes this whole adventure worth it is that I’ve shared these experiences with other people.  And I admit, for me, sharing these moments and trails with other hikers makes it so much easier too.  At times, my hiking experience is like a smelly slumber party with my best friends.

We have hiked across beautiful parts of New Mexico lately, and I can’t wait to see what Northern New Mexico has in store for us!  Enjoy the photos!

photo by JPEG 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

CDT: Mexico to Silver City, NM

If I had one word to sum up the CDT’s first 150 miles:  Intense.

I started my hike on May 1st with 8 other hikers.  I am slightly embarrassed to admit that the first 100 miles of trail completely kicked my butt!  It was brutal hiking due to the constant sun exposure and heat.  Unlike the PCT, the CDT desert is a nearly shadeless landscape.  Everyday, I felt like an ant caught under a magnifying lens as I crawled to the next water source. It was painful, and I scolded myself for thinking negative thoughts. 

I reminded myself: “There’s beauty in everything. Sometimes you just have to look deeper.”  I tried to find beauty in the blooming cactus flowers, or the darting jack rabbits, but it was hard.  As much as I tried to enjoy it, the first 100 miles suffocated me.  It was beautiful, but I was too drained to fully enjoy it.

One day I literally sat in a water cache box for an hour because I was so hot, and it was the only shade in that area.  On the CDT, you are forced to make things work because you literally have no other option.  I sat in the box, drank lots of water, ate snacks, read the log book, and pushed on when I felt well again. 

I have since mailed unneeded items up the trail to reduce pack weight, and I bought a silver hiking sun-umbrella to combat the exposure.  I don’t do well in heat, and I’m going to carry that silly umbrella all the way to Canada!  

The trail, and my attitude are both improving quickly. In the last 50 miles, the trail has climbed into the trees again.  It feels amazing to be in a forest again!  I have been hiking with a big goofy grin on my face.  And constantly whispering “Thank You” to the trees.

I’m currently enjoying a stay at an Airbnb rental in Silver City, NM with a great group of fellow hikers.  I think we all needed this break to regroup for the next stretch of trail.

Here are my favorite photos of the last 150 miles.  Enjoy!!  

PS: I won’t have good wifi for the next sections, so don’t be alarmed if you don’t hear much from me until further north 🙂


There’s beauty all around us.  Sometimes we just forget how to search for it.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 3 Comments

Getting Caught Up…

Whoops..  Here is a long overdue post of my past hiking adventures!  Sorry it took so long, and enjoy the blog post.  ❤

I start the CDT on May 1st, and hopefully, I will find the time and energy to blog regularly while on trail.   Or, maybe I can at least blog once per state?  Hey, at least I am being realistic for a change.  😉   If you have any questions about any of these hikes that I didn’t address, feel free to ask away:


Colorado Trail (2015):

The Colorado Trail was a huge factor in deciding to settle in Colorado.  I loved the idea of having a long-distance trail in my backyard.  I saved up 2 weeks of vacation, and knocked out Durango to Twin Lakes in 1 shot.  I spent the rest of my summer piecing the rest of the trail together.  A huge “Thank You” to Will/Estero for all the shuttle rides.  You made this hike possible for me, and I am so grateful for such a supportive boyfriend.   🙂

The Colorado Trail would be an awesome trail for a first thru-hike.  It was easy to follow the trail, since it was so well-marked.  I thought that the Colorado Trail had the best scenery, mile for mile, of any trail.  It was a great way to spend my first summer in Colorado.  I kept thinking “This is the reason I moved to Colorado!” and “Shit, Why can’t I breathe up here?”

The only “con” for me was that I was really lonely from Salida to Denver.  I was surprised that I spent so much time alone in those sections, and I really hated camping alone.   Even after all my thru-hikes, I’m still a little scared to camp alone.  Eventually, I was so tired, that I stopped caring, and just listening to the elk calls at night, and passed out.

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Wonderland Trail (2016):

The Wonderland Trail was a total last minute idea.  In 2016, a computer glitch in the reservation system left the Wonderland Trail as a free-for-all.  The entire trail was a first-come-first-serve system.  Yes!!!  No Brainer!  Time to go hiking!  I booked a flight to Portland and got a ride to Mt Rainier National Park with my older brother, Gabriel.  I was lucky to get a permit, but it started at a different entry point… and I only hiked 5 miles of trail in the first 2 days.  Oh well.

I didn’t care.  I enjoyed a slow start, and then hiked the rest of the trail in 5 days.  It was a ton of fun, but I made a mistake in shoe selection by going too light, and my arches fell.  As a result, I ended up with painful shin splints.

Just goes to show that even a “short” trail can kick your butt!



San Diego Trans-County Trail (2017):

A few months ago, I joined a group of hikers to hike the San Diego Trail-County Trail.  It was so fun to be among “hiker trash” again, but we got hit with lots of rain and cold weather.  The group ended up splintering into smaller groups due to weather, and that was a little disappointing.   Maybe I’ll give it a shot next year and hope for better weather?  At one point, it was just down to 4 crazy hikers bushwhacking our way up a mountain.  It was fun, and I’m glad at least some hikers wanted to suffer with me  😉

I should mention, it’s more like a route, than an actual trail.  It was a mixture of following GPS tracks near Salton Sea, hiking the California Hiking and Riding Trail, skirting trails and green belts around San Diego, small amount of road walks and one really annoying bushwhack/trespass (?) up El Cajon Mountain.

If you are interested in this trail, please check out this facebook group:

It was raining too much, so I ditched my camera on this hike.  A lot of these photos are from other hikers.  I probably won’t go that ultralight in the future.  Photos are what help me remember my hikes, and ditching a camera isn’t worth it, to me.


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Acorn is back.

Wow–  it has been 2 years since I last blogged!

Honestly, I spent the last 2 years working a lot (yuck).  Everyday, I would wake up before the sun, put on my blue scrubs, and go to the hospital. I tried to be normal. I stopped carrying toilet paper in my pocket. I made some wise investments, flipped a house and saved my pennies. And everyday, I would miss the trail. Everyday, I would dream about my next adventure.  I constantly looked at Estero’s triple crown plaque over the fireplace and wondered “When will it be my turn?”

I did shorter trails in my spare time and climbed 14ers.  I hiked the Colorado Trail (Durango to Denver) in 2015, and earlier this year, I hiked the Wonderland Trail around Mt Rainier. In those brief periods of time, I felt alive again.



During this time, things at work were changing for the worse.  A merger contract was signed which would move my job to another location.  Worst of all, this new location would be ridiculously understaffed.  I was asked to resubmit my resume, interview, and fight my coworkers for the job.  Umm… What?  Why did I want to fight for a job that would make me miserable?  Hives started to break out all over my stomach from the increased stress.


….You know exactly where this is going.

I am free again.  And dammit, I’m going hiking.  Estero is a wonderful partner, and so supportive of my crazy dreams, even if he can’t drop everything and hike with me again (I wish he could!).


I will be kicking off 2017 with a short ~150 mile hike in California:  San Diego Trans-County Trail.


Every year, 15-20 people hike this trail together in January.  I’m so excited to experience the southern California desert again, and be among “my people”.   And yes, we all jump in the Ocean at the end.  🙂

And, I am praying for a low snow year, because these trails are both high on my list:





I am very eager to see where 2017 will lead me.  And hopefully, I can find a less stressful career when I finish.  (Maybe a traveling Microbiologist?)

It’s late now, but maybe this week, I’ll finally upload my Colorado Trail and Wonderland Trail photos.  I have so much to show you.

It feels good to be back.

Love Always,   Acorn



Categories: Uncategorized | 10 Comments

South Lake Tahoe, CA to Manning Park, CANADA [Mile 2668]

Here is a map to update you on the progress of our PCT thru-hike:


(Yes!  We finished!!)

What can I say?

I stopped blogging.  (Oops. Sorry.)

On the PCT, I always felt the pressure to keep moving. The towns on the PCT were far apart, and the days in town were just too short to accomplish everything.  In addition, we had to finish the trail by late Sept, to avoid potentially dangerous conditions in Northern Washington.

So, we walked, and walked.  And then, we walked some more.  We were constantly putting in big days.  I was tired, and for the first time in 5,000 miles, I even stopped writing in my daily journal.
But, the good news, is that all the craziness was worth it . . .
On Sept 23rd, Estero and I completed the Pacific Crest Trail !!  We walked all the way from Mexico to Canada –together– and we don’t want to kill each other!  Date #2 was a success!
Since then, we have stayed quite busy.  We went to the ALDHA-West gathering, where Estero received his Triple Crown award (awarded for completion of the AT, PCT, CDT).  We flew to Florida, bought a car, drove to Maryland & Pennsylvania to see family.  Then we drove to Colorado, and quickly fell in love with the state, the laid-back people and the amazing weather.
By the end of October, we had an apartment in Denver, and a few weeks later, we both accepted jobs.  We have been busy adjusting to normal life, decorating our nest, attempting to work out, and even adopting a goofy kitten named Clover.
In 2015, I plan to begin hiking 14ers in Colorado.  There are 58 epic peaks above 14,000 feet in Colorado, and I’d love to fly my kite on all of them!  I am also dreaming of a Colorado Trail hike in the near future (It’s ok, Mom. It’s only 450 miles).  There are a lot of places that I want to hike… The Grand Canyon, Machu Picchu, Alaska, Hawaii, Utah…. (the CDT, someday).  But it’s been a very busy few years, and I look forward to a normal life, for now.
Thank You so much to everyone who supported me on these 3 trails.  Thanks to the countless Trail Angels who have offered sage advice, food, beds, showers and transportation.  Thanks to Keen for sponsoring me with socks for my PCT hike.  Thanks to my parents for putting up with my crazy dreams (sorta).  Thanks to Estero for being such an incredible partner and a constant source of inspiration.
Thanks to you, for reading.
Feel free to contact me anytime: or on Facebook: Rayana Acorn.
Happy Trails, until we meet again!
To finish this off, here are my favorite pictures from Lake Tahoe, CA to Manning Park, Canada.  You should probably grab some snacks for this part:
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(Nothing is Impossible)
Categories: California, Canada, Oregon, PCT, Washington | 8 Comments

Agua Dulce, CA to South Lake Tahoe, CA [Mile 1094]


I was so thrilled to see the southbound hiker coming my way. I was eager for any morsel of information about the upcoming trail condition.

“Hi!! What is the snow like on the other side of this pass?”

I crossed my fingers and hoped it would be clear of snow.

“It’s pretty snowy on the north face.”

He paused for a moment, and looked at me before adding, “Do you know how to ski?”

And, just like that, I entered the snowy wonderland of the Sierras. It is a place where the trail disappears and you are left with snowy, steep paths zig-zagging off the mountain.

Many moons and miles have passed since I last blogged. The latest section of the PCT has crossed 3 National Parks (Yosemite, King’s Canyon and Sequoia) and it has been remote with very little internet access.

We have crossed the desert, encountered snow in the high Sierra passes, climbed Mt Whitney, completed the John Muir Trail, and hiked across marshy mosquito-infested meadows.

It hasn’t been easy, but the sights and feelings of accomplishment has made it all worth it.

I am happy, alive, and tired.

Here are the sights of this amazing trail:




























































**Thanks to Estero, who taught me how to stop fearing the snow.

Categories: California, PCT | 12 Comments

Idyllwild, CA to Agua Dulce, CA [Mile 454]



I have great news!

Estero and I bought a bigger house:

We are now proud owners of a Lightheart SoLong6.



No more sharing a tiny tent. No more climbing over Estero to pee at night, and no more awkward yoga poses while packing gear in the morning.

Sorry for my lack of updates lately. Honestly, blogging has slipped to the last thing on my “to-do” list, and by the time I get to it, I’m just too tired.

Everything is going wonderfully. We are cruising along, and this section of the PCT has been incredible! I have really managed to love the desert. 🙂

So much has happened since I last updated.. We took 3 days off and attended ADZPCTKO (kick-off!), and had a great weekend catching up with friends.

We climbed San Jacinto peak recently– 10,900 feet. In one long day, we saw snow and cactus. The peak still had remains of snow tucked away in shady spots.

I worry about the snow that we may encounter in the Sierras. We should be there in a couple weeks, and I hope that we aren’t too early.

Here is a tiny glimpse into the latest section:




















































Categories: California, PCT | 2 Comments

Campo, CA to Idyllwild, CA [Mile 180]


Hello from Idyllwild!!

Estero and I started the PCT on a beautiful day last week.

It is wonderful to be hiking again. 5 months of hiking with a sweet boy? Yes, please. 🙂

I am feeling very, very lucky.

We are doing great so far — the miles are coming easily, and only 2 (healed) blisters for me. Estero’s feet are still perfect.

I have quickly learned that hiking in the desert is completely different than the AT or FT. The terrain is easier (steady ups and no rocks!!), but the heat and sun has forced us to seek shelter in the shade for a long lunch break. I am trying my best to stay hydrated, but it’s hard, sometimes.

Sorry for such a quick update. We’re heading to resupply and have a long day ahead as we climb to 10,000 feet (San Jacinto).

From the desert to the snow.

Hope you enjoy these photos:












































(Can’t wait to buy a bigger tent next week) 🙂

Categories: California, PCT | 13 Comments

Florida Trail: Complete!

FloridaTrailAssociationlogoFlorida Trail

Florida Trail:   January 8 – March 8

I apologize for my lack of updates during the last 700 miles of the Florida Trail.  Honestly, so much has happened, and I can’t possibly update you on everything.  But, they say a photo is worth a 1000 words…. so, here’s 2000 words:





On March 8th, Estero and I finished the Florida Trail at Fort Pickens on a beautiful, sunny day.


What did I think of the Florida Trail?

I enjoyed the Florida Trail, but it still involved a lot more road-walking than expected. Sadly, I developed shin splints (from the pavement) around mile 400, and there was a lot of Advil consumption.  It was rough, but I was still able to complete my thru-hike. Luckily, things are healing quickly after just 10 days of resting at home.  I will soon be back to “normal”.

It was all worth it.  There were many wonderful aspects to hiking the Florida Trail.  It was an amazing experience to thru-hike in the winter. Where else can you complete a long-distance hike in January?  I camped under palm trees, encountered alligators, wild boar, armadillos, and a bobcat.  I hiked thru swamps, ate fresh oranges in central Florida, and collected seashells from the beach at the end.  I felt alive.

The majority of the trail, I hiked with a bubble of 4 other hikers, and we ended up having a great time together! We were spoiled by trail angels, who took us into their homes, cooked us dinner, slack-packed us, and allowed us to rest.  I am so thankful for all the trail angels and trail maintenance volunteers who helped us along the way.  Thank you for everything!!


I met so many amazing people in Florida, but I’ll just tell you about one of them:

700 miles ago, I met a boy with deep blue eyes, a kind soul, and feet which love to explore.  We spent a lot of time hiking together, and finally, after  22 days, I found the courage to hold his hand. We joked to strangers that this hike was our first date.

We are currently planning Date #2.


It’s going to involve hiking…

Pacific Crest Trail.  2,650 miles.  

Mexico to Canada.  

April 2014



I admit that I’m a little terrified. And not just because of the mileage, mountains, and desert.  It’s not going to be my hike– or his hike– but our hike.

In less than a month, we will be standing at the Mexican border and beginning our long journey north.  I can’t wait to go on this exciting adventure with him, and to see where this path leads us.

To Canada.  And Beyond.

Call us crazy, but in the end, nobody dies wishing that they had spent more time working.



A few of my favorite photos from Florida:

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Categories: Florida | 23 Comments

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