It would be difficult to know for sure, but there’s a good chance your average kindergartener doesn’t spend much time thinking about the Pacific Crest Trail.
At a time when learning to read, write and count are the day’s major challenges — and naptime is just around the corner — the idea of hiking from Mexico to Canada is something normally left to adults.
Unless you happen to be Reed Gjonnes.
Born and raised in Salem, Reed took her first backpacking trip at 4 years old and already was bugging her father, expert long-distance hiker Eric Gjonnes, about a trip on the 2,652-mile PCT before setting foot in kindergarten.
“Hiking has been part of my life for as long as I can remember,” said Reed, who is now in eighth grade. “When I was a little kid, it was because I wanted to spend time with my dad and go camping. Now I love everything about it — the beautiful scenery, the wild animals and meeting other people on the trail. It’s all pretty great.”
She’s known on the trail as Sunshine, a nickname inspired by her bright red hair and bubbly personality. But behind that smile is the quiet determination of a girl who during the past three years has accomplished something few people in the world, and nobody near her age, has managed to pull off.