Dustin Stensland

About me:

I grew up in a small town of 800 in northern Minnesota and was lucky enough to have the Chippewa National Forest as my backyard growing up. I would spend my summers as a kid climbing trees and playing in the woods to pass time. I’m 27 years old now and I find the most satisfaction and tranquility hiking and camping, away from the rush of modern life.

I graduated with a BA in Sociology and a BA in Native American Studies in 2013. Not wanting to pay student loans for the next decade, I started working 120 hours a week in manual labor jobs. I was able to pay off my student loans rather quickly and began traveling more as I started saving. In December of 2015 I bought a 1978 VW Westfalia Bus and began traveling the country full time while photographing my adventures along the way. I haven’t had my own place to call home for the last 2 years as I’ve been traveling so much. I’m now accustomed to living out of my van while traveling the country and exploring some of the most unique wonders that our country has to offer.

My journey driving around the US started in Oregon, then California where I hiked 5 different sections of the PCT. This is when I truly fell in the love with the different terrains of the Pacific Crest Trail. Spring of 2016 is when I began considering a thru-hike the PCT. Since then I’ve made a complete circle around the United States, ventured into Canada for 1 month and spent 3 weeks hiking the fjords in Norway. After the PCT my goal is to circumvent the world exploring and hiking along the way!

Why I’m participating with mYAMAdventure

The mYAMAdventure program provides a network of experienced hikers which will be invaluable to the success of my very first long distance hike. The combination of mentorship and gear provided by our wonderful sponsors will surely make my hike more enjoyable from preparation to completion.

What hiking the PCT means to me:

I've always enjoyed pushing myself to my own limits, it's where I often find the most about myself. Over the last few years I’ve gotten my skydiving license and completed over 100 jumps. I also have a scuba diving license and am working on getting sailing certifications so I can operate a sailboat on my own. While I definitely enjoy those hobbies I don’t feel as passionate about them as I do hiking and camping. Hiking will always be my first adventurous hobby and completing a thru-hike of the PCT would give me unimaginable satisfaction. Growing up I thought it was amazing seeing people accomplish long distance travel under their own power and wondered how amazing it would be to do something similar one day.

Why support the PCTA?

The Pacific Crest Trail Association is the primary protector of one of the best hiking and horseback riding trails in the US. Without their advocacy and trail maintenance efforts, much of the 2,659 miles of trail would become unusable or inaccessible. It is estimated that anywhere from 200,000 up to 1,000,000 people a year use the trail. The PCTA relies primarily on donations and volunteer efforts so every penny and hour given to them ensures that the iconic trail can be used for years to come.

 

The most important phrase is in my life is “because I said I would.” It is a personal promise that I’ve learned to expect from myself. It’s easy to tell other people or yourself that you’re going to do something to better your life and chase a dream that you’ve always had but not follow through. I will complete a thru-hike of the PCT because I said I would.