Q & A with Alexandria Cremer: Pacific Crest Trail Hiker
By Victoria Ginzburg
Alexandria Cremer has always had a knack for adjusting to new living situations, whether camping 17,000 feet up in the Everest region or sleeping in a double-wide trailer in Oregon. A year and a half ago, Cremer moved to Denver, Colorado with her high school friend after years of living solely in small towns. Today, her daily routine consists of taking a walk with her brown wooly husky named Matcha and working long hours at a fine-dining restaurant called Ocean Prime. With such a busy work schedule, Cremer yearns for adventure in her free time. She works hard to plan weekend adventures with her close friends through Colorado and Utah. However, a short time ago, Cremer’s daily reality consisted of expansive time in nature. From dusk to dawn, she experienced natural awe and spontaneity. In 2017, Cremer walked 2,650 miles from the US-Mexico border to the US-Canada border along the Pacific Crest Trail.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Albany, Oregon. It’s a very small town. I don’t love where I grew up. My family still lives there so I do go to visit often. The kids there get into a lot of bad stuff at an early age. There is not a lot to learn or do.
What was your family like while you were growing up?
I grew up with both my parents and my older brother. Then, my parents got divorced when I was in seventh grade. We split into two houses. The divorce was difficult, but it wasn’t as difficult for me as I feel like divorce can be. The adjustment was not too hard. I think that is something I have carried into my adult life. I can adjust to living in any situation as long as I have a bed.
Where did you attend college?
I went to the University of Oregon from 2010–2015. I am currently wrapping up my degree. I have three courses to finish to receive my journalism degree.
Why did you leave the U of O?
I was just ready. I was in college for five years at that point and was looking forward to traveling. I left the university in a hurry. Now I am ready six years later to finish my degree.
Did you end up succeeding in traveling after college?
Where did you travel?
I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 2017. They called it the year of fire and ice. There was a lot of snowfall in the Sierra Nevada while fires were closing almost 300 miles of trail in Oregon. So, I skipped up to Washington and started hiking southbound. Then, in 2018, I went back and finished backpacking the miles that I missed the year before.
What was your favorite section of the PCT?
The Sierra Nevada. It was an extremely challenging section. I had very little experience backpacking or hiking in general when I started. I had no experience dealing with snow or climbing over mountain passes. I did not know how to use an ice axe or microspikes. The learning curve was high, but the level of support I got from other people hiking the trails was just insane. I had just met these people, and we were doing intense stream crossing and climbing over dangerous mountain passes. The bond that one builds is unmatched in the Sierra Nevada versus any other part of the trail.
What called you to hike the PCT?
Since high school, I have always wanted to travel and after college; I thought that if I am ever going to make this work it has to be now. So, I picked up working seasonally at Odell Lake in Oregon. I did not make any money, but I lived for free in this double-wide trailer and worked as a reservation host. It turns out that my location was a stop on the PCT. I did not know anything about the PCT, but I started to meet hikers every day. If a hiker makes it to Odell Lake, it is very likely they will finish the trail because they have already walked 2,000 miles. So, I started to ask the incoming backpackers for advice. Over time, I grew to be infatuated with the PCT and soon it became a goal of mine to complete.
When did you catch the outdoorsy bug/ the call to explore the wilderness?
Definitely from the PCT. I do not think I was outdoorsy as a child. I don’t even think I went on my first hike until I was 20. It was not some lifelong story. It was something that happened in my 20s.
What has completing the PCT taught you about yourself?
So much. It taught me my capabilities and independence. It also opened me up to a new lifestyle. I learned that it is okay to not start a job right away. I also learned that, if you want to travel, there are ways to do it. You will experience times of being broke, lonely or sad, but you experience that in everyday life anyways. It is important to see that different styles of living out there can bring alternative paths to happiness. I will never forget that for the rest of my life. I am very thankful for the time that I had, and I will go back.
How has this experience shaped your future pursuits and adventures?
I am still trying to decide what I want to do as I get back into the professional world. I am not sure if I want to do news anymore, or if I want to shift to outdoor journalism. However, I am planning to hike the Colorado Trail this summer. The trail goes from Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver to Durango in Colorado.