Hiker Reaches California 2 Years After She Left Delaware

Briana DeSanctis is first woman to complete solo hike of coast-to-coast trail
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2024 7:05 PM CST

After walking around 6,800 miles over more than two years, Briana DeSanctis reached the Pacific Ocean in Point Reyes, California, on Saturday, becoming the first woman to have hiked the American Discovery Trail solo. "What a lot of feelings," she said in an Instagram post. "I'm still trying to process everything, plus my family showed up to surprise me!" she said in an Instagram post. The trail starts—or finishes, if you're going west to east—at the Atlantic Ocean in Delaware's Cape Henlopen State Park. From coast to coast, it passes through 15 states, plus Washington, DC. The trail splits into two sections between Ohio and Colorado, and DeSanctis walked both of them, USA Today reports. It includes urban environments as well as all kinds of wilderness.

DeSanctis, 40, set off from Delaware on Jan. 1, 2022, but she hasn't been walking solidly for 25 months, reports the Mercury News. Her greatest distance in a day was 34 miles. On zero-mile days, she worked odd jobs, visited friends, or had public speaking engagements in schools. She also wrote a column for her hometown paper in Maine, the Daily Bulldog. In a column last month, she looked back on her journey as it neared its end. "I have endured temperatures well below zero, heat above 100 degrees, winds over 50 mph, snow, sleet, hail, flooding, drought, lightning, tornado warnings, and every once in a while, a bluebird day," she wrote.

"There have been so many goals I've accomplished," she wrote. "So many happy tears of fulfillment along the way, feats I consider to be exponentially more defining and powerful than walking into the Pacific Ocean." Eric Seaborg, president of the American Discovery Trail Society, says DeSanctis is "nothing short of amazing" and has been "a wonderful and inspiring ambassador for the trail," per USA Today. DeSanctis, who walked the Appalachian Trail years ago, says she hopes her journey will inspire others. "Don't ever let someone tell you that you can't do something that you want to do," she says, per the Mercury News. "You can't live your life in fear." (More hiking stories.)

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