We are so excited to present our first Wilderwoman feature of 2019! Four times a year, we will be connecting you–our community–with a woman who is making wild, intentional, impactful strides in the outdoor community. Our first Wilderwoman is Kathleen Neves, a yoga teacher turned PCT thru-hiker who has her sights set on her second thru-hike in 2019. Kathleen’s story is one of self-discovery, clear vision, and the relentless pursuit of opportunity to CREATE the life you want. Read more for her story, in her own words.
Just over three years ago, my life was about to completely change. At the end of 2015, I started going on day hikes alone. I created my website, KathleenLovesYoga and started blogging about my adventures both in the yoga studio and out on the trail. I was getting ready to start my first yoga teacher training, which would lead to a total of five teacher trainings in a year. In 2016, my divorce became finalized and I’d make the transition from being a yoga practitioner to a yoga teacher while documenting the whole entire process on my blog. In 2017, I quit my full-time corporate day job and went back to bartending and serving. I then started planning my Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) thru-hike. In 2018, I stopped teaching yoga, quit my bartending and serving job and left to Seattle to solo hike the PCT for five months. For 2019, I plan on hiking the entire PCT all over again, from Mexico to Canada and will be documenting my experiences on my blog, posting photos of my hike on Instagram and videos through my YouTube channel.
While hiking the PCT in 2018, I rediscovered my love for life, fell in love with thru-hiking, fell in love with a man I met while thru-hiking, experienced freedom like I’ve never experienced before in my life and had my faith in humanity completely restored.
All of these amazing things in my life started with my love for yoga and hiking.
When I first started practicing yoga, I defined yoga in my life as being a very physical thing. Yoga was a challenge to get good at and overcome. After a few injuries and some healing, my definition of yoga changed. Yoga became a gift I could give to myself. Yoga was my reset button. A way to relieve stress. My “me” time. Yoga helped me make some important decisions in my life. Yoga helped me become a better person.
When I started my blog at the end of 2015, I was still defining yoga in my life as being a physical activity, even though the act of practicing yoga brought me a lot of mental benefits. At the time, I thought the more yoga classes I took, the happier, more well-rounded and spiritual person I’d become, but it wasn’t true. At least for me it wasn’t true. It took hiking over 1,800 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018 for me to become the best version of myself. Hiking the trail made me the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life. I definitely finished the trail a more well-rounded person. I had gotten in touch with my spirituality on trail like I’d never done before. So many times, I felt synched up mentally and physically with nature – my vibes, my instincts and even my moon cycle. I felt more comfortable just being on trail than I’ve ever felt in any town or city. No yoga class could ever have done the things hiking the PCT has done for me.
I’ve learned the goal of yoga isn’t to take as many yoga classes or yoga teacher trainings as I can. It’s not about doing the postures perfectly. It’s not about standing on my head. Yoga isn’t even about becoming flexible. For me, yoga is about creating space where I was once stuck. It’s about learning how to get out of my own way. Yoga is about breaking down the barriers I’ve built around my heart from years of self-hate, being in unhealthy relationships and having to live in survival mode. Yoga is also about learning how to appreciate and love my body. Yoga is about loving myself for the person I am, not the person I want to be.
Yoga is defined in the dictionary as being, “A school of Hindu philosophy advocating and prescribing a course of physical and mental disciplines for attaining liberation from the material world and union of the self with the Supreme Being or ultimate principle.”
Facing my fears is my yoga. Setting and achieving goals is my yoga. Living outside of my comfort zone is my yoga. Allowing myself to follow my passions and giving myself permission to fall in love is my yoga. Taking a Bikram Yoga class is my yoga. Hiking is my yoga. Loving my friends and family is my yoga. Taking an Epsom Salt bath is my yoga. Anything I do mentally or physically to help get my head on straight is my yoga. This is why my blog continues to be Kathleen Loves Yoga and not Kathleen Loves Hiking or Camping or Wakeboarding or Stand-U Paddleboarding or Traveling. To me, Yoga.Is.Everything.
Patreon Page: Be an active part of my 2019 PCT thru-hike without having to take a single step (Patreon Page) at https://www.patreon.com/KathleenNeves
YouTube: My “Hungry Hiker” YouTube channel was created to highlight some of my favorite local day hikes, provide information about enjoying the outdoors safely and responsibly, document my upcoming 2019 PCT thru-hike and feature some of the food I love to eat both on and off trail.
Instagram: I post all my photos at https://www.instagram.com/kathleenlovesyoga/
Follow my 2018 PCT thru-hike: http://www.kathleenlovesyoga.com/category/hiking-the-pct/
Why hike the PCT all over again?: A question I often get asked is, “Why hike the same trail all over again?” There are several reasons why I want to hike the PCT again in 2019. http://www.kathleenlovesyoga.com/hiking-the-pct/why-i-want-to-hike-the-pacific-crest-trail-again/
January Event: Curious about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail? Join me to hear stories of my PCT thru-hike “live.” I’ll be hosting a special event in Seattle at the Athleta University Village store on January 13th from 7 to 8:30PM. First 20 attendees will receive a special goodie bag. Cash raffle for some of my favorite hiking items donated by some of my favorite brands I used along the PCT. 100% of the proceeds from the raffle will be donated to the Pacific Crest Trail Association. Click to RSVP: https://4867-pctworkshop.splashthat.com