Former Pierce student rides coast to coast on her horse

At just seven years old, riding horses and trailing through the dirt roads is what one former Pierce College student lived for.

Gillian Larson is not only passionate about becoming a science professor, but also an accomplished young women who travelled the 2,600 mile route on the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT).

“I’ve been riding horses since seven and my current horses, Shyla and Takoda, since 13 and 15. I decided to do the trail over the summer,” Larson said. “I’ve been daydreaming of riding from coast to coast my whole life.”

The PCT spans the United States from Mexico to Canada, venturing through a variety of states including California, Oregon, and Washington. Even though she has completed this route, the journey does not end there.

“There’s another trail guys around my age did. It’s a trail that takes you around Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and Montana,” Larson said. “That’s seems like an awesome trail ride.”

Larson is 22 years old and has been doing trail ride-alongs since she was 11 years old. When she decided to do a trail by herself, Larson’s mother was nervous but knew her daughter was strong enough to do it alone.

“In the beginning she wanted me to do a smaller trail. But now, I’m trying to go as far as I can. But she is very supportive and she has been the one to figure out the logistics: food and water,” Larson said. “She has been like my support crew.”

Her mother has been there since the beginning and seeing her grow and mature into a brave young woman has made her a delighted mom.

“I didn’t think it was possible. But apparently it is. I never really was worried about her. I know she is smart and capable of doing it,” said mother Jodi Johnson who is an English professor at Pierce College.

The PCT Association is a nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to protect the Pacific Crest Trail and also provides CPR/ First Aid training, hiking, chainsaw training and more.

“It’s important to protect the experience of the trail and to ensure that it is what is intended by the people who envisioned it,” said Trail Guardian and former PCTA board member Nick Donnelly.

The Pacific Coast Trail Association is always accepting new volunteers and makes sure that on their trip food, and sometimes camping gear, is provided.

Gillian Larson starts graduate school this Fall of 2014 at CSUN. But until then, she will keep on riding.