Reflections on a Trail well Traveled

***This article was originally posted on and is a reflection on my experience backpacking the entire Pacific Crest Trail. To read more articles about our journey, check out the RSS feed on the right hand side of this page where my blog posts have been linked***

I was silly to think that we would be immune to post trail depression.

For months now, we both felt like the end of the trail would come as a bit of a relief. We love our lives in Minnesota and California, and the communities we’re apart of have always left us with a strong sense of belonging and support. The trail was incredible in so many ways, but we constantly feel a gravitational pull towards the lives we lived before.

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Volunteering at San Diego Earth Fair: Thank you Csilla Aglaure-Szekelyhidi!

Today, Cooper and I had the chance to volunteer at the San Diego Earth Fair in Balboa Park in honor of our friend, Csilla.

There was a lot of different opportunities available for volunteers, and Cooper and I were lucky enough to get out first choice. We volunteered to help at the HumaniTree, which is a giant leafless tree where people can make paper leaves with promises they want to make for the environment and then populate the branches. Being Earth Week, we thought this would be a fun interactive opportunity to hear other’s pledges to protect our world. 

We had so much fun working at the HumaniTree booth. There were a lot of kids that would stop by and say incredibly intuitive things. One little boy, probably about six, told me he wanted to promise to clean up trash more often because when trash gets into the ocean, the sea animals are harmed. Another kid told me they wanted to learn more about the environment so they knew how to better protect it. 

Csilla was one of our first friends to donate to our campaign, and she’s always one of our first friends to express excitement over whatever path we’re going down next. Csilla, we so appreciate your support and love, and I feel so lucky to have you in my life. Thanks for always being there for me and your constant support of our goals and dreams. You’re an incredible friend.

And speaking of incredible people, we posted our last Trek blog this morning before we leave. It’s a thank you to our strong support system at home, including all of the wonderful people who donated to our campaign. Thank you again to all of those individuals for your support of our hike and excitement for us. It really has made a world of difference for us.

Well, that’s it for now. We’re heading out to Campo tonight where we’ll sleep, and then we’re starting the trail first thing tomorrow morning. If you want to stay up to date with our adventure, be sure to find my author page on! We’ll be writing there for the next few months about our trip. Until then, happy trails!

Volunteering with Laughing Pony: Thank you Rebecca Payette!

Yesterday, Cooper and I had the chance to volunteer with a local horse rescue, Laughing Pony, in honor of one of our donors, Rebecca Payette.

Laughing Pony is a small operation located in Rancho Santa Fe, just east of my hometown. The organization has a small staff that works day and night to care for 10-15 horses who have all been badly abused or neglected. The owner, Celia, works to rehabilitate these horses and provide for them, even sometimes staying up with them all night, and once they’re back in health she works to find proper homes for them. This process can take a while– we were told she once turned down thirty applicants for adoption for one horse because none of the prospective owners had a home that would be better than the situation the horse currently had at Laughing Pony.

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Volunteering at the San Elijo Lagoon: Thank You Julie and Joe McCormick!

This past Wednesday, Cooper and I volunteered at the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy in my hometown. Each Wednesday, a group of volunteers get together for what they call the “Lagoon Platoon”, working to remove invasive species and do restoration work in the lagoon.

While the Conservancy’s main focus is environmental restoration and stewardship, they’re well known in the area for being a great location for birding. 40% of North American bird species have been seen in the Lagoon, and they’ve been home to a number of endangered species. This past weekend, we visited their nature center with my parents and walked around looking for birds in the area. We were able to find quite a few different types of birds, including a Snowy Egret and a few different types of hummingbirds. We thought Julie, an avid birder, would be proud.

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Picking up trash in the National Parks: Thank you Charlie Callagan!

The past two weeks, we’ve been slowly roadtripping out to the West Coast where my parents live. Usually we’re rushed roadtrippers, driving twenty-four hours straight to get from one side of the country to another. It was great having the chance to take our time and slowly make our way out to California, and we had a lot of chances to see things we usually would have passed over.

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On the Road Again

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Volunteering at the Habitat ReStore: Thank you Colleen, Taryn, and Joan and Mike!

Since leaving Duluth, Cooper and I have been on this whirlwind of movement. It’s been interesting adapting to the “life on the move” lifestyle that’s soon to characterize the remainder of our 2017, and a great test of our ability to function together as travel/hiking/adventure partners.

While in Winona, we had the opportunity to volunteer at the Habitat ReStore for three days in honor of our friends Colleen and Taryn, and Cooper’s grandparents Joan and Mike. Late last year we volunteered at a Habitat build in Virginia, MN and absolutely loved our experience, so we were excited to see the other side of the operation by working at the ReStore.

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As Promised…

As promised, here’s the link to my main blog site while I’m hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

If you’re interested in following along with our adventures, be sure to subscribe to the page by entering you’re email into the “Subscribe to Alexa Shapiro’s Post” field right underneath the main photo. I’ll be updating the blog as often as I can while out on the trail, and this site will remain relatively quiet unless I’m writing about other bucket list goals that I’m working towards or accomplishing.

Until next time, happy trails!

Volunteering with Adventure Club: Thank You Matt Stillman!

Today we volunteered for the last time at Adventure Club. It was a really beautiful sunny day and with 30 degree weather the kids were extra active. After some time on the playground, the coordinators led us into the forest where they played with a number of shelters that had been built over the last year. We had fun watching them climb up and down trees, exploring the woods and enjoying the good weather.

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Volunteering with CHUM: Thank you Charlotte Ellevold!

This past Friday, we volunteered for the last time at the CHUM food shelf in Duluth.

Each time we’ve volunteered here, it’s been a completely different but incredibly positive experience. We’ve really enjoyed getting to know the people who work at the food shelf throughout the week and trying to blend right in as we adapt to the atmosphere at the center. Most of the men who work at the food shelf have really sarcastic, poking senses of humor which is something Cooper adapts to really well. He started jumping right in this week, making jokes with the guys as we unloaded the truck.

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Volunteering with Adventure Club: Thank you to the Hagmans!

This past Wednesday we volunteered again at Adventure Club. With the windchill, it was -1 outside, but the kids didn’t seem to mind as they geared up and sprinted for the woods and sledding hills. I’m always so amazed at how kids can be so enthralled in their games that they don’t notice the temperature. At one point, they all found a spot in the forest where the ice had broken through to a pool of water. They continued to toss things into the water, jumping on the bits of ice and getting soaked in the process. The coordinators have firm rules about allowing kids to play without intervention, unless a situation becomes unsafe. When it came to the cold, we just watched, waiting for them to complain about it or checking in with them occasionally to make sure they were okay. They seemed completely unfazed by the weather though, just excited to jump and run and be playful in the woods.

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