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Grade 11 Sunshine Coast student planning 4,200km solo trek

‘It’s nice to be out there, to follow my own rules, do my own thing,’ says Joffre Storey
Sixteen-year-old Joffre Storey plans to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone this summer, starting in May.

Last fall, 16-year-old Joffre Storey hiked the 180-kilometre Sunshine Coast Trail alone. Now, the Grade 11 student is looking for something “a little bit more challenging” (and with hopefully fewer wasps). 

The Chatelech Secondary School and Sunshine Coast Alternative School student is preparing to do the 4,265-kilometre Pacific Crest Trail – from Campo on the California-Mexico border to Manning Park – by himself this summer. 

“I just kind of like the simple life and I like nature. It’s nice to be out there, to follow my own rules, do my own thing,” he said. 

Joffre plans to start the trail in May and hopefully end in early September. For his studies, he is doing extra work at classes to get them done, and then – with school permission – missing the end of term. But there is high school credit in trekking half the length of the continent: PE class is covered as is his capstone year-end project. 

In the lead-up to May, there is quite a lot of preparation. Joffre is planning out packages and extra gear to send to resupply spots along the trail. He’s also collecting sponsorships (including Trail Bay Source For Sports, Durston Gear, Zoleo and Mountain Hardwear). 

He’s also been training (which he didn’t do for the Sunshine Coast Trail), working on strengthening his back, hips and knees and doing trail hiking – particularly at night. “I’m more of a night hiker than a day hiker,” said Joffre. “[It’s] cooler, it’s nicer, there’s not as many interruptions.” 

“In the desert it’ll be nice, but in the Sierras, I won’t do it,” he said. However, he also intends to hike during the day more to see the views. 

Joffre’s parents are experiencing bittersweet emotions as the hike approaches, said mother Erin Storey. “The next few weeks are going to be very busy preparing and testing the gear, dehydrating foods, planning the re-supplies, discussing the ‘what if scenarios,’ feeding him lots, and getting in as many good chats and hugs as possible.” 

While there’s lingering uncertainty about sending their teenager on such an adventure with uncertainties and unknown challenges, Erin says that Joffre was made for a hike like this. “Ever since he was a little kid, Joffre’s loved being out in the wild, he’s got huge stamina, he’s fiercely independent, strong-willed, and brave – all of the qualities he’ll need to be successful on this trek.”  Joffre comes by his favourite pastime honestly – he did his first backpacking trip at seven years old, to his namesake – Joffre Lakes Park. 

“We’re mostly just bursting with pride, watching him embrace this adventure and his life with passion and determination.” 

Asked how he thinks his parents are feeling about the trek, Joffre said, “I think they’re a little worried, but I have a GPS tracker, so I’ll stop and ping ‘em every few hours.” He did the same on the Sunshine Coast Trail. 

“I’m just excited to be out there, meet new people, have a good experience,” said Joffre, reflecting on what he’s looking forward to. “Get stronger, see the views, finish the trail, to be honest with you.” 

Asked what he’s anxious about, Joffre said, water in the desert. “I would have said getting lost but I got a really good mapping system on my phone.” 

Coasters will be able to follow Joffre’s progress on the FarOut app, where his username is Joffre.Storey, as well as on Instagram, @joffreowen.