Belmont Alumna Shares Love for Thru-Hiking

Belmont alumna Tessa Babcock, a 2017 graduate from the music business program, recently spent five months thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The trail is a 2650-mile footpath from Mexico to Canada, with the southern terminus located in Campo, California, and the northern terminus located at the Washington State-Canadian border. On the thru-hike, Babcock travelled through the Mojave Desert, Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park and the Northern Cascades.

Babcock said she loves how much freedom she feels on the trail. “I’m not thinking about social standards, make up or trying to impress anyone. Thru-hiking allows you to push your body and mind to their max limitations; you see what your body can do and how far it can go, not thinking about how it looks,” she explained. “Whenever I finish a hike, I have double the amount of confidence in myself and my decision-making abilities than I did at the beginning. I love who the trail allows me to be, and that’s my authentic self.”

Tessa Babcock thru-hiking in Oregon between Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood
Tessa Babcock thru-hiking in Oregon between Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood

The PCT concludes Babcock’s third thru-hike. Her first experience thru-hiking was the Appalachian Trail, a 2190-mile footpath from Georgia to Maine, traveling through 14 states connected by the oldest mountain range in Northern America. Babcock went thru-hiking for the second time on the Vermont Long Trail, the first long trail in the United States, stretching 270 miles.

A fun fact shared by Babcock is that each thru-hiker receives a trail name. “My trail name is Big Money, so all of my hiking friends refer to me as such, or just Money,” she explained.

Babcock first discovered her love for thru-hiking in Dr. Susan Finch’s First Year Writing course at Belmont, in which the theme was “adventures.” Students read the book “Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail” by Jennifer Pharr Davis, a reflection of the author’s first time hiking the Appalachian Trail. Davis has thru-hiked the Appalachian trail multiple times and currently holds the supported fastest known time (FKT) record. Davis has also hiked the Vermont Long Trail and just this month (October 2019), her FKT was defeated by another strong female hiker, Nika Meyers.

Currently, Babcock has hiked more than 5,000 miles total. Although she says she is tired, she still finds herself yearning for more.

“I already have four hikes planned within the next two years, and I’m eager to be nomadic again!” she exclaimed.

Babcock Poses at the northern terminus
Babcock Poses at the Northern Terminus. All done!

For 2020, Babcock intends to hike the Colorado Trail, which is roughly 500 miles from Denver to Durango. After the Colorado Trail, she will return to the John Muir Trail, which is 210 miles concurrent with the Pacific Crest Trail through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, to try the other direction with less snow for comparison. In 2021, she hopes to complete her Triple Crown (hiking the PCT, AT and CDT) by hiking the Continental Divide Trail. The CDT goes from Mexico to Canada along the divide through New Mexico to Montana.