A Hike Interrupted and a Journey Shared

by Bekka Austin, Philanthropy and Communication Officer

In March, I shared a story with you about a woman setting off on a journey of a lifetime. Monica Reinoso, a local nurse, set out on a 2,600-mile hike to help raise funds for the Homage Meals on Wheels program. Now, some six months later, Monica has just returned home to Everett. Her hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) was full of triumphs, unexpected kindness, and a few detours.

“I’ve learned so much about myself on the hike. I can’t even describe how grateful I am to everyone who donated and showed support. When you can take something you love and connect it to helping people – it’s just magical,” Monica beams.

In April, Monica sustained a knee injury after a couple of hundred miles on the trail. Following her doctor’s advice, she took a week of rest but was back on the PCT in no time. Unfortunately, some additional bumps in the road caused her to adjust her initial plan. As a result, Monica decided to lengthen her original timeline and split the remaining hike into two phases: Northern California in 2023 and Oregon in 2024.

“It was a blow to not do a true thru-hike, but I knew it was the right choice for me,” Monica explained. With her home rented until August, she decided to continue her journey at a slower pace. That also meant Monica’s faithful companion, Theo, a two-year-old lab, was able to get more trail time, van time, and camping time with his Mama.

In proper Reinoso form, Monica took her challenge and turned it into a way to help others in the form of trail magic. Slowing down allowed her to spend planned time arranging acts of kindness for others, like meeting at trailheads for rides or offering food and drinks to fellow hikers. “The trail is such a special community. You meet lots of different people, and they are all so kind,” shared Monica. “With everything we see on the news, I think sometimes we forget that people are mostly good and that they want to help each other.”

Hiking long distances through rugged terrain brings people together in a way few circumstances can. Hikers often find “tramily” (their trail family) and give each other trail names. It comes as no surprise that Monica is known as Pure Love to her fellow hikers.

Monica calls from the Swedish Edmonds breakroom, pausing during her twelve-hour shift. She loves her work, but it can be demanding. “When my job is feeling stressful, I’ll look at the PCT photos on my phone and relive some of the magic from the hike. It always helps,” she shared.

As this article goes to print, Monica Hikes for Hunger has brought in nearly $10,000 to help feed hungry seniors. Her fundraiser will remain active, and she still has her sights set on raising $50,000 for Meals on Wheels.

Monica vows to continue to spread awareness and raise funds for Meals on Wheels because she knows the program’s impact. “Our seniors are often a forgotten population and can be overlooked. Meals on Wheels is about more than just food; it’s also about the community,” Monica adds.

In addition to delivering food items, caring Meals on Wheels drivers conduct welfare checks to ensure seniors are safe in their homes. Drivers also provide referrals to other Homage programs, including mental health services, transportation, and home safety repairs.

Monica recalls how many of her fellow travelers had a connection to Meals on Wheels. “We’d get to talking, and they would share that their dad receives meals, their aunt used the program, or maybe they volunteer to deliver themselves,” she said. “It’s truly amazing what a meal and friendly visit means to those in need.”

To follow along with Monica’s journey, check out her Instagram @MonicaHikesForHunger and to donate, visit www.homage.org/MonicaHikes.

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