Oh man you guys!
I've wanted to do this one for a while now.
An interview with my friend, Barrett Pall.
So first, one of my favorite Barrett stories before I do a full introduction.
When I was living in NYC I would take the 9 PM Barry's Bootcamp, where Barrett is an Instructor.
Barry's is MY JAM, by the way, I love it.
So in the middle of a full class, Barrett would literally CALL ME OUT during things like, a bent over row (when I'm basically doggie style) and yell to the entire class
"YEAH KRISTA YOU'RE USED TO THAT POSITION".
In addition to the class call outs, it always struck me me how Barrett would be so honest and encouraging to me about launching my blog.
Whenever I'd make an excuse, or say something about a fear I had around it - Barrett would be the first to encourage me, and bring me back to reality.
"Just do it Who cares." Was enough of a reminder.
Fun, funny, kind, caring, compassionate, honest, smart, real, aware, and driven.
He's unapologetic and unafraid.
A true gem, who I am thankful to know!
This interview is so DOPE because this is coming from a man who wears a multitude of hats.
Including Celebrity Fitness Trainer, Writer, Model, Blogger, Life Coach, YouTuber and overall multifaceted, thoughtful and loving individual.
You can read his super deep, thoughtful and (sometimes controversial posts) on Artisan King, or browse the latest on his instagram (with over 178k followers, he knows a thang or two about social media too!)
His latest adventure though, had him leave life in New York City, to hike up the coast starting from Mexico 350 miles.
(Remember Wild by Cheryl Strayed?)
Oh and instead of 350 mikes, he did 770.
Yes, 770 miles, hiking, camping, meeting strangers, and enduring all types of weather, people and experiences along the way.
All of this, while disconnecting from social media, embracing nature and home, and absorbing all the lessons nature allows.
This interview is the first he's done since his return, and I have so many questions about his MAJOR life changing trip.
So i get them answered, and get to share them with you!
So here we are, my interview with Barrett is PCT Adventure and more:
Can you share a brief recap on the trip for us?
I can't believe that my trip along the PCT has come to a wrap.
It all started 5 years ago when my best friend Stacie Tiftitsoglou, who I've known for 20 years, mentioned the PCT to me, and I coincidentally read Wild. We knew it was something we had to do, and 5 years later we found ourselves committing to actually doing 650 miles along the trail. Stacie was in a crossroads in her life, and I found myself needing a break from the life I so enjoy in NYC, so a month before the trip, I told Stacie I was doing it with her.
45 days later we ended up going past our goal of 650 miles to 770 miles, where we capped off our trip by climbing to the top of Mt. Whitney, which is the highest mountain in the US behind Denali in Alaska.
My big motivation for this was to get out of my own comfort zone. have the experience of a lifetime with one of my best friends, who I undoubtedly know is a soulmate, and inspire others to live their wildest dreams.
How did you prepare? What did you bring or physically what did you do to prep?
I'm beyond lucky that all the logistics were taken care of by Staci. She packed all of our food, made all of the packages that her mom would later send to our stopping points to resupply, and mapped out our itinerary, which we pretty much stuck to.
Physically I got myself ready by making sure I got properly fitted for the right backpack at REI, and walked all over the city instead of using public transportation.
I'm super lucky that my life organically prepared me for the trip as I am always doing something active, and usually have a 17 lb backpack on while running around the city living my normal life. However, you truly can't be fully prepared for what your about to embark on as it's like nothing else I had ever done.
Was there a time when you thought you couldn't make it?
As you usually end up hiking alone during the day, your main activity besides walking is thinking. It was a constant mind game of pumping yourself up, and reminding yourself that beyond the constant discomfort and physical pain was a life changing experience that will stay with you forever.
Going up and down 3 mountains that are higher than NYC skyscrapers everyday is taxing, but the views you see, people you meet, and lessons you learn are beyond worth it.
What was the best memory from the trip?
Everyday came with so much fullness that it's hard to pick one specific memory, but the kindness from strangers restored my faith in humanity, and just seeing clean water to drink was a miracle that it's hard to describe unless you've been on the trail.
A few memories that stand out though are: my 1st shower after hiking a week without one, drinking an orange soda for the 1st time as I craved anything orange at one point, getting to the big stopping point where you meet a lot of hikers, and coming across a pool at a KOA ( Campgrounds of America) after being in the desert for a month. Officially becoming "Sweetheart," which was my given trail name, and seeing the sunrise from the top of Mt. Whitney are also very high on the list.
The worst or toughest part of the trip?
The heat, the flies, the physical pain your feet feel. Blisters inside of blisters are a real thing. Flies and gnats test your sanity. The sun is unforgiving.
How physically demanding was it?
I live a very physical life, and had read about the trail, but had no idea how hard it actually was going to be.
I can 100% say this was physically the hardest thing I've ever done. Anyone and I mean anyone could do what I did, but it's all about listening to your body at every step, learning to take breaks, and just hiking your own hike as they say on the trail.
How was it to be disconnected from social media and your phone, email...for that long?
So welcomed. I am someone who makes a big effort to not be living through my phone, and this was the biggest push to get even farther from my phone and the "matrix."
If you have Verizon you pretty much have service everywhere, but I have Sprint, which wasn't everywhere, and I'm grateful that I simply didn't have service, so I couldn't even be on my phone if I wanted to be. When you remove yourself from living through a digital world, you end up living a truly incredible way, which isn't to say that I didn't take lots of videos and pictures, but being on the side of a mountain, not knowing what day or time is was, and no one knows where you actually are is supremely powerful for finding clarity.
Can you talk about the people you met along the way?
They were the biggest surprise and gift from the trail. I thought it was going to be quite solitary, and that it would be just Stacie and I. However, the trail is so much more social than you can imagine. Yes, you hike during the day most of the time by yourself, but at the resupply points, camping grounds, and random places here and there you meet some of the most diverse people. It's almost like traveling Burning Ma in the sense that there is a full hiker culture and collective mindset to not just exist, but truly live. I ended up hiking with 10 of the most incredible people, who in the "real world" I probably wouldn't have even met. We named ourselves the Rainbow Tribe, and became pretty well known on the trail as it we were the biggest group that stayed together. These people became family in the matter of days, and I will forever take things that I learned from each one of them with me. Smokey, The Bandit, Clicker, Rapunzel, Snacks, Dime, MVP, Suture, Sponge Bath, Ants, Pogano, Fabio, Monarch, Cupcake, Mozart and a few others along the way are hikers (these are their trail names) that changed my life, and I love so deeply.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to do a big trip or take a big leap like you just did?
Just do it.
Do it now.
Stop waiting for something else to happen, or someone else to go with. 95% of the hikers on the trail start alone, and end up meeting friends along the way.
There will always be reasons why you can't or shouldn't do something crazy like this, but once you do, you can't ever imagine not doing it.
Your life will change in the most incredible ways, and you'll be so much more apt to keep living out your dreams once you start.
What was it like being in the wild the whole time?
It was soul healing. Many religious teachers and spiritual gurus talk highly of nature in the fact that it connects you to your deepest self, and it's so true. It's also very challenging at moments because you just want your bed, running water, a bathroom, but what you learn is that those are all luxuries to be grateful for. You also do end up in towns here and there, where you take zero days, stay in hotels, and regroup, so that you can feel like a "real" person again, but the craziest thing is, you start to miss your tent, your sleeping bag, and just being under the stars.
What is the biggest lesson you learned that you could share with others?
To "Hike your own hike."
There will always be people and things that influence you, but you have to do what feels right for you, not anyone else, so if that means you leave the group and keep hiking then do it, or if that means you stop and stay behind while everyone else keeps going, you have to do it.
Live your life for you, and everything else will work out.
You just have to keep walking.
Has it been hard to adjust back to 'real life', off the trail?
I knew it would be, but I didn't realize how overwhelming normal life would feel. I've never felt overwhelmed by NYC, but my first real day back in NYC was rough.
However, as I learned the trail magic never stops, and just when I thought I couldn't deal with NYC, a random girl stopped me on the street because she had followed my hike on social media, and she was about to embark on her own 20 day hike on the John Muir Trail, so we chatted on the street for an hour, and I even went back to REI with to help her be fully ready. It was exactly what I needed at the exact moment. Again, life always works out, you just have to be open to it.
What was the first meal you had when you came back?
The first thing I had when I came back to NY was actually nothing crazy. It was just like a salad, which is something most hikers crave because you miss freshness after eating dehydrated food nonstop. I also stopped being a vegetarian while on the trail, but am happily phasing back to this as I just feel better eating this way.
Whats next for you?
I'm not sure, and I'm the most at peace with this than I ever have been. I've created an amazing life for myself, and I know that more amazing opportunities will pop up, so right now I'm just doing me. I head to Germany in September for 2 weeks with another best friend, and I'm excited for that. At this point, I just want to keep seeing the world, and inspiring others to do the same because it truly is how you learn and evolve in the most organic and healthy way.
Just feel very peaceful, which is what I want everyone to experience.
Where can people connect with you?
My blog is artisanandking.com. All my social media channels are @barrettpall, and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I always love to hear from people and answer questions about anything they may be curious about, and that I have knowledge on.
If you could tell people one last thing, what would it be?
Just go for it.
If you aren't happy, you have the power to change this. It may be scary, but fear is simply the unknown, and once you know something it usually isn't scary at all.
Also I listened to the Power of Now while on the trail, and it was the perfect thing to hear while hiking.
This book will change your life, and I encourage everyone to listen or read it!
Lastly, love is everything, so if you approach all areas of your life with that in mind, your life will be more amazing than you could ever imagine!
Such a cool story, right? Honestly there's so much I can share from Barrett. Advice on love, building a business, social media...but this was truly a feat and I am absolutely so proud of him for it.
You can donate to Global Citizen, a charity that Barrett raised money for during this adventure.
It looks to “help fight extreme poverty and inequality around the world, and support approaches that will make life more sustainable for people and the planet.”
100% of the money that is raised will truly go to so many important issues around the world.
Let me know what you think. Would you ever do a major adventure like this?
I would really love to embark on a major life changing adventure. Maybe not 770 miles, but I like the thought of disconnecting and getting away to really be in nature.
Looking forward to chatting, and if you have questions for Barrett you can write below! I'll have him answer.
Thanks for this, B!