Anna Bright reflects on 'mental challenge' of hiking Pacific Crest Trail

Anna Bright reflects on 'mental challenge' of hiking Pacific Crest Trail

DALLAS, TX – To be a professional athlete takes talent, skill, and mental strength.

Anna Bright displayed some remarkable fortitude when she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail back in 2021.

“Right after I graduated from college and wrapped up the NCAA Tournament, I moved out of my apartment and within five days I got started. It’s a 2,650-mile trail that goes from Mexico to Canada,” explained Bright.

“I knew a girl at my school who did it. She was a cross-country runner, and I thought she was crazy, but during COVID, everyone’s at home and thinking a lot, and I was interested in backpacking. Then, I got the idea that I would give it a go,” she added.

With her collegiate tennis career officially over, Bright was looking for a new test.

“I wanted to do something challenging and prove to myself that I could do it,” said Bright. “I wanted to do it largely as a mental challenge and mental battle.”

Even more impressive, she began the hike alone.

“I started by myself and I met people on the way. We formed a group. About two to three weeks into the trip, we stayed together,” mentioned Bright.

Everyone in the group got matching tattoos of a small tree, and Bright's is located on the side of her leg.

Unfortunately, a lot of people believe the tree is actually a teardrop.

“That mistake happens quite a bit. It's pretty funny,” shared Bright. “I haven’t actually gone on a hike since. It really burned me out. I had a great time, but you won’t catch me on another hike that long again.”


When asked about the most challenging part of the experience, Bright had this to say.

“It’s kind of strange because when you think about it, it might sound like some really big adventure, but it’s pretty monotonous,” she explained. “You wake up every day, you unpack your tent, and you walk 20 to 30 miles. It gets really tough. I wanted to go home and I wanted to be done. I was so burned out. Like anything, things get old, and I was just fighting the mental battle to stay out there and just keep going. Every day was 20 or 30 miles closer to being done.”

Though monotonous, the views were pretty spectacular. The hike is known for the Sierra Nevada section of the trail, but there was one state that stood out to Bright above all the rest.

“The most beautiful to me was a lot of Washington. It was just so gorgeous. We did it in 12 or 13 days. We were putting down really big miles, so every day you felt a lot closer. There was a kind of rush there. We hiked Washington in September, so everything was changing to fall and it was just so beautiful,” acknowledged Bright.

To hike at least 20 miles per day is a big accomplishment, but reaching the finish line didn’t quite live up to her expectations.

“To be honest, when we finished the trail, I was in a rotten mood,” noted Bright with a laugh. “Normally, when you reach the Canadian border, you walk another five or six miles into Canada and then you get into civilization. But, because of COVID, the border was shut down and it was illegal to just walk into Canada, so when we got to the end, we had to turn around and walk back another 30 miles.”

When the end was finally in sight, though, Bright actually took off running.

“I think I ran the last mile-and-a-half when we were close to a car that was gonna pick us up. I was so excited to drive into Seattle. I was just so happy,” she described.

In total, it took Bright 113 days to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

“I finished that up in mid-September and started playing pickleball in mid-October,” she confirmed.

It clearly hasn't taken Bright long to work her way up the ranks and become a top player.

And while she might be done with hiking for now, her pickleball career is just getting started.