Wild Ideas Worth Living: Aspen Matis

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Aspen Matis on rebuilding her mental and emotional strength by hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail.

Editor's note: This episode contains references to sexual violence and may not be suitable for all audiences.

After being raped her second night of her freshman year in college, Aspen Matis grew depressed and was shocked at how her school didn’t believe her, and how little they did to protect her.

She’d spent a lot of time in the outdoors in growing up, and knew that getting into the wilderness could bring her a sense of peace and healing. Instead of returning to school, she dropped out and embarked on a 2,000-mile journey to walk the PCT from Mexico to Canada.

"I was forced into situations again and again where I had to prove my strength to myself." - Aspen Matis

She shared the story of her journey in the 2015 book, Girl in the Woods, which became an international bestseller. It’s a story that’s equally vulnerable and fearless, one where Aspen shares moments of magic from the trail and its healing power. It’s also a book I couldn’t put down and has resonated with many, including receiving praise from people like Lena Dunham, Cheryl Strayed, Oprah Magazine and many more.

I talk with Aspen about her time on the PCT, her favorite things about the hike and how she made it through some of the most challenging days. We also dive deep into her gear recommendations (especially for those who like to go lightweight) and what she had with her. At the end, Aspen shares with us a book she’s working on now, the first time she’s shared this information with the world.

Listen to this episode if:

  • You or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault.
  • You’ve ever wanted to hike the PCT.
  • You love geeking out about gear.
  • You think nature has magical powers.

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