Saudi Haya Al-Samari and Kuwaiti Fai Al-Omran, close friends known for their love of adventure in the Gulf region, are embarking on a transformative journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Their aim is to inspire others and establish Arab women as trailblazers in the world of adventure.
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a challenging 4,265 km hike from Mexico to Canada, taking around five to six months. It passes through twenty-six national forests, seven national parks, five state parks, and thirty-three federally protected wilderness areas. They covered 32 km daily and finished in September.
Read through our interview with the lovely Haya.
What inspired you to go on this journey?
I heard about it ten years ago when I was studying in California , and I thought that it would be such a cool way to live in the wild and break free from the norms of my day-to-day life. Since then, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, so I wrote it down on my wall of dreams. Since then, I’ve had this notion of doing the PCT one day when I’m old and retired. And then, fast forward to 2022, it had been two years since I recovered from my back surgery, and I felt like I needed an adventure like this to celebrate and enjoy my freedom.
What is the scariest or most challenging part of a long-thru hike?
Being few days away from the nearest town or a road, the realization sinks in that in the event of an injury or emergency, we would be reliant on helicopter assistance. This fact became even more distressing when we witness our friends struggling with similar situations. Whether it's being incapacitated by an injury and unable to help themselves, enduring a scarcity of food amidst a raging snowstorm, or finding themselves trapped amidst the ferocity of wild fires, the vulnerability of our circumstances becomes all too apparent.
On a personal level, the most challenging part of this thru hike was being away for so long from my husband and not being able to connect anytime due to the lack of phone service, and time difference.
Describe to us the feeling of reaching your destinations (metaphors are welcome)
Reaching my destination was a symphony of emotions, relief, and fulfillment. It's a reminder that the journey is just as important as the destination itself, for it is through the challenges and setbacks that we truly appreciate the beauty of arrival.
What are the essentials you pack? Do you carry a lucky charm or something special that holds memories?
I pack the essential and literally the essentials. Things I will need to use almost every single day and cannot survive without.
Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, toiletry bag, electronics bag, camera with batteries and a tripod, first aid kit, medication/ supplements pouch, emergency blanket, rain jacket, rain pants, down jacket, thermals, underwear and finally food and water and that what weights the MOST!
Air Matress is now considered a luxury for me, I got rid of half way the thruhike. On the other hand, it was a basic for almost every thru hiker. Halfway after getting hard core I decided to get rid of things I consider now luxury. Such as my matress and started sleeping on the ground. Switch my heavy comfy sleeping bag to a quilt. Got rid of the change of clothes I carried and my town shirt. Literally just kept the basics and nothing but the basics.
I carried one special item with me that kept me feeling safe the whole time. It’s a letter from my husband that he wrote before I leave, sealed it and wrote on it “ For a tough day”. I made sure I covered it properly and kept it dry to read it when I truly need it. I carried it the whole 5 months with me from mile 1 to 2000.
2nd item I would also consider a luxury that I I decided to keep is my journal. Although I did not journal everyday but It was really nice to have. Especially when you’re overwhelmed with emotions and you find yourself alone or don’t feel like talking.
What are your favorite hidden gems in the world?
The havasupai Indian reservation. I love it because it’s isolated from the rest of the world. It’s pure heaven, surrounded by endless waterfalls and raging rivers, where you’d least expect it right in the middle of the Grand Canyon Desert. Also, it’s not just a beautiful hiking destination, it’s a whole new nation/culture to learn about.
The hidden canyons of Oman that needs hours of hiking to reach. It’s raw, beautiful and isolated. So whenever you’re there, you’ve got it all to yourself!
Where would recommend to hike or chill in nature in the UAE?
I went hiking around Jebel Jais a couple of times and I really enjoyed it. There’s a large variety of trails to choose from. If you’re up for a challenge try one of the trails that take you all the way up from around sea level — your legs will be in for a treat!
What is the next item on your bucket list?
Living with my husband a more slow paced life in our trailer, parking it next to an ocean, mountain, whatever the adventure calls for.
What is on your workout playlist?
I have a new one every season you can’t keep up! But i’ll share a song I play to count my blessings after coming back from a lovely dive day in the ocean or any good day in general.
Thank you for this day - Karen Drucker.