Meet the Midlife woman who walked 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail during the pandemic.


Today I have the next guest in my series on Cultivating Wholehearted Living - thriving in the second half of life. My guest goes by the unusual name of Person Irresponsible, her “trail name” - nicknames like this are often used by the thru-hiking community. This amazing woman decided to walk 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail in 2020 during the pandemic!

You’d think she was fit, fabulous and nowhere near forty. In fact, she tells me that she was hurtling towards fifty, fat, and in her fourth year of sobriety - hence her anonymity*. She has since written a book “Everything You Ever Taught Me” where she recounts not only the hardship of living in the American wilderness, but also her recovery from alcoholism. I've included her Amazon links at the end of the post, but for now I'd like you to meet Person Irresponsible....


In 2019 I decided to cultivate more open-mindedness, so I made myself more ‘suggestible’. (Previously I'd tended to shy away from trying new things - getting ‘out there’ and ‘getting on with it’). My friends and I dubbed these 'suggestions', “Sadventures” because invariably I was doing stuff they couldn’t, wouldn’t or didn’t do themselves! To my surprise, I started off vegan , ran “5k”, and ended up in Canada. Remarkable because ordinarily I’m a confirmed cheese-loving, sofa-surfing, British vegetarian.


Walking the PCT wasn’t actually a sadventure. The challenge was to read the book “Wild” and watch the film. But it planted the seed and six months later I had abandoned my life in the UK and set about adopting a life of deprivation and utter hardship. I braced myself against deserts and snow-capped mountains. 

scenery from the Pacific Crest Trail

I battled against hail, snow, ice, drought, blistering summer temperatures, freezing nights, humidity, deluges of rainfall, avalanches and rockslides. I contended rattlesnakes, bears, scorpions, mountain lions and other human beings. Worst of all was the racket in my head - telling me I wasn’t good enough, a constant reminder that I’m ‘less than’. Oh, and there was the not inconsolable matter of a global pandemic raging across the world.
walking the Pacific Crest trail


I’m very lucky because I discovered I was addicted to alcohol. I was drawn to drinking more and more after my husband walked out. After the divorce was finalised I decided to have a break from the stuff, only to find myself going back to it after a few days. I was a so-called ‘binge drinker’, but it was creeping up to too many nights a week. I didn’t want to ask for help through formal channels so I took myself off to AA. There I learnt so much more about life, love and the universe than I’d ever taken on in nearly forty years of travelling the world. Recovery is a journey in itself: learning to thrive in a world saturated with alcohol (more so now with vodka-smelling hand sanitiser everywhere). AA taught me to take one step at a time, one day at a time, and one ginormous mountain at a time.


Everything You Ever Taught Me charts me facing an endless morass of anxiety: not only the fears that rampaged around my head but the physical obstacles that I felt unskilled to combat. As I conquered one uncertainty I’d conjure up another one. As I learnt to get comfortable around mountain lions, I’d spot a bear print. As the pandemic raged on, I panicked about how I’d get fresh supplies. As I compared myself to others who were younger, fitter, more acclimated, I discovered that I was doing this my way, and it was the only way I could do it. When others succumbed to loneliness, mental exhaustion or their own physical ailments, I plodded on. I was one of the very few to have made it to the Canadian border in a year full of tragedy.

Everything you ever taught me - by Person Irresponsible - available on Amazon


In some ways nothing has changed, and yet everything has changed. I’m still me. I’m fat again. I’m five years sober. My feet remain an entire shoe size bigger than they used to be. My cat still loves me (when he wants feeding).

I still don’t have a clue why I did it - but I am so glad I did do it. I learnt the importance of not letting my head demons defeat me: I am not who they say I am. These days I visualise myself as a leaf gently flowing down a stream. Sometimes it rushes from section to section, other times it meanders. I simply have to relax and enjoy the ride. I’d do 2020 again in a heartbeat now my legs have stopped aching.

Leaf floating downstream

Writing the book was another epic journey, countering the very same insecurities that I carried with me through the PCT. Still, I wrote it and I’m so very glad I captured a very unique moment in my life. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


Meet Person Irresponsible

Divorced. Cat-owner. Lives in Shakespeare’s country. Loathes Shakespeare. Detests camping even more. “PI” once had a very professional career that made her a truly global citizen. She ended up quite drunk, and quite dizzy, in Scotland. Moved to England, her native land, once she got sober. Author, adventurer and adjusting to life in the mid-years, she is a strong advocate of women’s rights and women’s education

*PI retains her anonymity in keeping with the eleventh tradition of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Meet the Midlife woman who walked 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail during the pandemic.

Meet the Midlife woman who walked 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail during the pandemic.

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Cresting the Hill - a blog for Midlife (Middle Aged / 50+) women who want to thrive
Meet the Midlife woman who walked 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail during the pandemic.