Introducing P3: Ten hikers helping promote responsible use of the Pacific Crest Trail

P3 - Protect Promote Preserve

We’re excited to announce the launch of a new program called P3: Protect, Preserve, and Promote. A joint effort between the PCTA and our partners Eagle Creek, LEKI, and Osprey, P3 will highlight 10 Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers to help promote and advocate for the PCT. The hikers will share their experiences during their hikes between Mexico and Canada through blogs and social media.

“What makes P3 unique is an emphasis on PCT stewardship—hence the three P’s: Protect, Preserve, and Promote,” said Scott Wilkinson, PCTA’s director of communications and marketing. “As the PCT becomes more popular, it’s more important than ever for hikers to minimize their impact on the trail. We believe this extraordinary group of P3 Hikers will inspire a wide audience through their photos and stories from the trail.”

“Our sponsors’ generous support of the PCTA helps protect the Pacific Crest Trail,” said Angie Williamson, PCTA’s director of philanthropy. “Beyond advocating for the trail, P3 will also highlight their leadership and support for the PCT community.”

The inaugural class of P3 Hikers was selected from more than 75 applicants from the U.S. and internationally. P3 Hiker Laura Johnston, an environmental conservation professional from Springfield, Virginia, hiked the entire Appalachian Trail last year. “The PCT is a trail that most people only dream of seeing,” she said. “I want to share the importance of its history, its beauty, and its ecology—and its accessibility to those who seek it.”

P3 Hiker J.J. King, from Moran, Wyoming, is a retired U.S. Navy captain who is now a seasonal ranger for the National Park Service. “Promoting a greater awareness into the fragility of this iconic trail,” he says, “will ensure that this current generation of hikers will leave it unimpaired for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations of outdoor enthusiasts.”

The first P3 Hikers start their journeys on the Mexican border near Campo, California during the week of April 10. Other hikers will begin on dates throughout the rest of April and early May. One hiker will be doing an unusual southbound hike and start in Canada in July.

We’ll share the P3 Hikers’ photos and stories on our website:

Meet the 2017 P3 Hikers

P3 Hiker James Bishop
From Poway, California, James Bishop is an accomplished musician and composer. He graduates from Point Loma Nazarene University in May with a degree in music composition, and one of his goals during his PCT thru-hike is to compose and record a full-length album on the trail called We Go Together. “Music has this way of bringing people together,” says James. “It is deeply unifying and it can be an incredible vehicle for advocacy and transformation. As I set out to get intimate with the trail and to create music from the story that unfolds, being a P3 hiker seems like a perfect opportunity to engage in what is already happening to preserve and protect it.”

P3 Hiker Rachel Blankenheim
A physician’s assistant and photographer from Tracys Landing, Maryland, Rachel lives aboard a 34-foot sailing catamaran on the Chesapeake Bay, where she maintains a low-impact, sustainable lifestyle. “Protection and preservation of the environment are core values of my being, ” says Rachel. “I consider environmental impact in my professional and personal life and am conscientious of how one individual can make a long-term impact—even in small ways. The P3 position seems very much in line with my values in life and as a photographer.”

P3 Hiker Heather Diaz
Heather was born and raised in Houston, Texas, “Land of the everlasting freeways and flat landscapes,” she says. That’s why Heather invested her outdoor passion in long-distance running—which was all she could do. She discovered backpacking after relocating to San Francisco. “As a Hispanic female, my family never raised me to explore the outdoors,” she says. “If I can do anything else, I’d love to inspire people of all colors and gender that they can get up and do anything they aspire to, no matter where they’re from.”

P3 Hiker Laura Johnston
An environmental conservation professional from Springfield, Virginia, Laura successfully completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2016. She also contributes to the Sounds of the Trail podcast. “Hiking and living in the woods for those six months was the seminal experience of my 34 years thus far,” she says. Laura plans to stay in conservation and find opportunities to share her enthusiasm through writing, creative outlets and getting others out to nature. “There is a lot to learn from living as one with nature and seeing another part of your own country—the PCT is a trail that most people only dream of seeing. I want to share the importance of its history, its beauty, it’s ecology but also its accessibility to those who seek it.”

P3 Hiker J.J. King
From Moran, Wyoming, J.J. began a second, seasonal career in 2012 with the National Park Service. He’s worked as a ranger in Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton and Bryce Canyon national parks—all after retiring from a 24-year career as a captain in the U.S. Navy’s Medical Service Corps. Raised in Virginia, J.J. first discovered hiking on family trips to Shenandoah National Park. “Educating an ever-growing number of hikers on Leave No Trace ethics is just one example why I desire to be a P3 Hiker,” says J.J.  “Proper stewardship of the varied ecosystems encountered along the Pacific Crest Trail has never been more important. Promoting a greater awareness into the fragility of this iconic trail will ensure that this current generation of hikers will leave it unimpaired for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations of outdoor enthusiasts.”

P3 Hiker Anna Machowicz
A passionate advocate for sustainability, Anna grew up in Michigan, where her father was a park ranger. After graduating from Michigan State University, she worked with the Michigan Recycling Coalition promoting recycling throughout the state. In 2014, she succeeded in an ambitious project to produce no more than one 13-gallon bag of household waste for an entire year. Anna is now dedicated to a career in wildlife research, and met many PCT thru-hikers while working in California on a spotted owl research project. She’s planning a project for her PCT thru-hike to measure the average amount of waste generated by a single thru-hiker. “It is important to me to take care of the PCT before, during and after my hike. I’ll demonstrate this through my project, and I hope to inspire all hikers to do the same.”

P3 Hiker Krystian Repolona
From Lumberton, New Jersey, Krystian completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2016. Before that, he was an emergency room nurse. “I dealt with life and death everyday on the job,” he says, “and it gave me the inspiration to set out and see the beauty in the world. Life is precious, yet so fragile—it can be taken away at any moment.  I just want to LIVE before I die.” Inspired by the impact of Ansel Adams’ photographs on conservation, Krystian hopes his PCT photos will have the same effect. “His stunning photographs of iconic locations led to legislative actions to protect places such as the John Muir Trail, Sierra Nevada, and Yosemite. Conservation is a major theme that I will be focusing on during my PCT hike and I believe my photography philosophy closely aligns with the P3 mission.”

P3 Hiker Owen Rojek
Owen’s love of nature began when he lived for three years in a rural community in Japan, where he was surrounded by rice fields and farms and taught in a junior high school. Returning to the U.S., he worked for an educational nonprofit for five years while using all his vacation time backpacking in the West. “As I became more proficient, I became more passionate about our public lands, leave no trace principles and sharing the experience with others,” he says. “As a nature lover living in New York City, I see first-hand how people have become unconnected with the natural world. They think nature is something you go to, not realizing that we are a part of it even in the city. The increasing number of hikers on the PCT means that we need to practice Leave No Trace principles, ensure trail towns have positive experiences with hikers, and maintain the wildness of the trail for future hikers.”

P3 Hiker Karen Wang
Karen hiked 1,800 miles on the PCT in 2016 but was forced off trail due to injury when she reached Crater Lake from Campo. She is passionate about sharing her story to encourage others to experience something so special of their own. Affectionately known as “Wang,” Last year Karen established a reputation as a trail photographer—her photos are considered some of the best among PCT photographers.  She currently lives in Seattle and pursuing mountaineering. She plans to finish her PCT thru-hike this summer, hiking all of Oregon and Washington.

P3 Hiker Kelly Kate Warren
From San Francisco, California, Kelly spent the last five years living in a tent in the backcountry with the California Conservation Corps’ Backcountry Trails Program. She works as a cook and supervisor for the CCC, most recently as a U.S. Forest Service-contracted backcountry cook for crews in Northern California. Her PCT thru-hike will include detours to volunteer with trail crews and outdoor nonprofits. She’ll also be interviewing people for a project called The Trail Speaks. “I’ve structured my whole hike around service and activism, and P3 is everything I could hope for in a collaborative project between public land’s supporters and users and the companies that outfit them. Respecting and protecting wilderness is a radical act in today’s world, and I desperately want to encourage people to care about what wild places we have left in this country and on this planet.”

Author: Scott Wilkinson

Scott Wilkinson is the PCTA’s Content Development Director. A former professional musician, Scott has 20+ years of experience in almost every marketing role. Before joining the PCTA he was a marketing/creative director at West Virginia University and the University of Oregon. A serious outdoor addict, Scott is an experienced whitewater paddler, hang glider pilot, flyfisher, mountain biker, and (of course) hiker and backpacker.