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Janel Gazelle

I'm a Communications specialist and long distance hiker who hails from the California Bay Area. I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail for five and a half months in 2016 and the experience brought me more strength and confidence than I knew were possible. Now, in 2018, I am walking from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail to fundraise for girl empowerment nonprofits. Over the course of 2,560 miles, I will raise $10,000 for three amazing women-run organizations that are teaching girls self-respect, bravery and camaraderie in the outdoors. Learn more at janelhealy.com.

Posts

What I Learned from Leaving the PCT with 300 Miles Left

What I Learned from Leaving the PCT with 300 Miles Left

After 2,350 miles, I ended my 2018 Pacific Crest Trail flip-flop this week at Crater Lake. It wasn’t where I was planning on finishing, but excruciating tendinitis in my right foot forced me to call it a hike. I only had 300 miles left. I was so close...

Oct 13, 2018 : Janel Gazelle
Surviving the End of a Trail Relationship

Surviving the End of a Trail Relationship

When does a trail relationship actually end? Is it the moment you step off the path where the two of you had been walking side by side for a thousand miles? Is it the moment he cuts off his wild hair to symbolize the beginning of a new chapter in his life? Is it the moment he gets a tattoo to memorialize the ending of the chapter in his life of which you were a part? Is it your last kiss before he steps onto a plane to return to a different country on another continent? And is it really the end? Or is it just the beginning of something else?

Sep 14, 2018 : Janel Gazelle
The Pros and Cons of Flip-Flopping the PCT

The Pros and Cons of Flip-Flopping the PCT

Flip-flopping is a style of thruhiking that really works for those of us who like doing things our own way. But it also has its drawbacks.

Sep 13, 2018 : Janel Gazelle
A Second Chance at Mount Whitney

A Second Chance at Mount Whitney

Back in May, after walking almost 800 miles north on the PCT from the Mexico border, I got to the base of Mount Whitney during a snowstorm. Realizing that a Whitney ascent wasn’t going to happen for me then, I sat in my tent and cried. The next day, I backtracked 20 miles and bailed out of the High Sierra, vowing that I would come back to do the John Muir Trail section in the summer. Six weeks later, I found myself back on the JMT heading south. I was determined to finish hiking my home state atop Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. The mountain had evaded me once but this time it was going to happen, dammit...

Aug 19, 2018 : Janel Gazelle
Getting Through the Halfway Blues

Getting Through the Halfway Blues

The “halfway blues” is a common malady for long distance hikers. The middle of a thruhike can be tough. The honeymoon phase has long since worn off and our days on the trail can feel monotonous. Now’s the time to reflect on the reasons we decided to thruhike in the first place!

Jul 9, 2018 : Janel Gazelle
Go into the Mountains with Utmost Respect

Go into the Mountains with Utmost Respect

...after that, "utmost respect” became my mountain mantra. Whenever I’d hike through a strong stream current or across an icy slope and started to feel pangs of nervousness, I’d repeat the phrase over and over under my breath. I wanted the mountains to know that I humbly understood who had the ultimate power. I wanted them to know that I didn’t underestimate their strength and that I wasn’t there to “conquer” them, but to appreciate them in all their unpredictable and expansive glory...

Jun 13, 2018 : Janel Gazelle
“Bro Culture” and the Thru-Hiking Community

“Bro Culture” and the Thru-Hiking Community

There’s been a lot of talk recently about “bro culture” on long trails and in the outdoor industry in general. Last week, I experienced it firsthand on the Pacific Crest Trail—and the outcome wasn’t what I expected.

May 14, 2018 : Janel Gazelle
Thru-Hiking Is the Best Kind of Emotional Roller-Coaster

Thru-Hiking Is the Best Kind of Emotional Roller-Coaster

When you're on a long distance hike, a fantastic day can come on the heels of an absolutely terrible day. It's amazing how, in contrast to the terrible day, the fantastic day can seem even sweeter...

Apr 11, 2018 : Janel Gazelle
My PCT Journey Begins. Here’s Why I’m Hiking

My PCT Journey Begins. Here’s Why I’m Hiking

I’ve been dreaming about walking from Mexico to Canada for almost two years—and the time has finally arrived. But I’m not hiking 2,650 miles only for myself. Starting today and ending when I finish the PCT in 180 days, I am raising $10,000 for three inspiring nonprofits that are helping young women practice communication, creativity and bravery in the outdoors. When times are hard on the trail, thinking about the girls who will benefit from this hike will keep me going.

Mar 25, 2018 : Janel Gazelle
How Thru-Hiking Changes Your Relationship to Your Body

How Thru-Hiking Changes Your Relationship to Your Body

Some people want to thru-hike in order to lose weight. But here is ACTUALLY what happens to your body when you do a long distance backpacking trip.

Mar 19, 2018 : Janel Gazelle