Posts from the ‘_2013 PCT Hike’ Category
Learn more about our new film exploring life at the end of the trail at www.LostorFound.org. Learn more about the hike and the making of the time-lapse video here. The video has so far received more than 2 million views and received international press coverage, as seen here. The following interview is from the April 7, 2015 broadcast of PBS NewsHour with Gwen Ifill.
I spent the past twelve days hiking the last 268 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from Snoqualmie Pass, WA to Manning Park, BC. My thru-hike from Mexico to Canada last year saw an early snow storm dump 6-7 feet of snow on the PCT in this area, forcing me to road walk the rest of the way. Though I was happy with the accomplishment, it felt somewhat incomplete given the alternate ending. I just wanted to return and hike this part of the trail. It was probably the most physically demanding of the entire PCT and included a couple passes that made me quite nervous. I’m very happy to have this all behind me now.
This video is a compilation of three key moments from my journey, where I would stop and talk a little about my progress. The first clip drones on a bit long, but it seems to convey the moment best as is. Without actually seeing anything of the hike and the awesome beauty that is the Pacific Crest Trail, this little video says a lot about me and my experience.
A time-lapse video of all 2640 miles and written essay about why I did this hike and what I’m taking away from it, will be posted very soon. It’s taken me awhile to grapple with it and the transition my life has taken.
As I walk along the Columbia River on 97 North, through a seemingly endless orchard of apples, cherries, peaches, and other fruits, my thoughts are with all the brave, determined PCT hikers reaching the Northern Terminus through snow, cold and innumerable dangers. I’m missing the trail, but the final road walk to Canada has provided its own unique challenge. I’m fighting the boredom and severe pain in my feet and legs.
By the time I finish on Saturday, I will have walked nine straight days of 25-30 miles from Snoqualmie Pass, WA to the Canadian border near Osoyoos, BC. I will have completed a 2632 mile “continuous footstep” thru-hike from the Mexico border to Canada. 2402 miles of it on the PCT, and the last 230 by road.
I am in Okanogan tonight, just 50 miles away from the most challenging, and rewarding, thing I’ve ever done.
My friend, Matt, is flying up from LA to pick me up Saturday afternoon. I’m looking forward to celebrating over a burger and good Canadian beer in Osoyoos, before driving back to Seattle. I need to be on a plane to Switzerland on Tuesday morning to start a three month long work project. Somewhere in there I will get the chance to more thoroughly reflect on this adventure and my accomplishment. But for now, I still have some walking to do.
Bad snow storms hit the North Cascades last week, stranding PCT hikers from Oregon to the Canadian border. In several cases, hikers went missing and were eventually rescued. I made it to Snoqualmie Pass, mile 2402, almost two weeks ago now. After returning from my unexpected trip back east, I decided to set out in the face of oncoming storms last Friday, hoping to make it to Stevens Pass and closer to my goal. After hiking 25 miles in a steady downpour and small accumulations of snow, I camped for the night. Conditions on trail got worse over night. When I woke I was totally soaked and it was clear that all the creeks and rivers, and even the trail, had been overcome by rising waters. This made hiking ever more dangerous. The winds had picked up quite a bit as well and actually knocked me down twice. I made the difficult decision to turn around, as I was all alone out there, feeling ill-equipped and vulnerable. The moment I turned back was horrible. It felt as though this was the moment I quit the trail, only 250 miles from completing it.
The next several days were agonizing. Do I wait and hope the weather improves? Call it quits and go home? I was running out of time as I had work commitments beginning on October 15th. The snow conditions were serious, with legitimate avalanche dangers. I had no prior experience navigating in, hiking or camping in such weather. I started to gear up in preparation for a return to the trail, but I grew increasingly uneasy with the danger. Realistically, even if I did hike, I wouldn’t have time to make it all that way in the snow. Quitting or dying just did not seem like very good options to me.
After much consideration, I came up with a third option… road walk the rest of the way to Canada. At least I would have the satisfaction of a continuous footstep thru-hike from Mexico to Canada, even if not all of it was on the PCT. So, this past Friday, myself and another hiker, Cream Tea, left Snoqualmie Pass by road instead.
After four days and 100 miles of good weather and reasonably pleasant road hiking, I am right now outside Wenatchee, WA just 130 miles from Canada. I will be done on Saturday.
From White Pass, my approach to the remaining sections of the hike was: 4 days + 3 days + 4 days + 3 days = Canada. Well, I just completed the initial 4 day, 100 mile trip from White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass on Sunday evening. Despite the poor weather, I was starting to feel strong and motivated again, getting up some good momentum for the finish.
Sunday was an especially difficult 26 miles through a persistent downpour over craggy trails, mud, overgrowth and creeks run amok. By the end of it, descending the Snoqualmie Pass ski resort, I was spent and ready for the warmth of town. Two miles shy of Sunday’s finish, huddled under a tree to escape the rain, I turned on my phone and received a message that I had hoped not to receive. My dear Aunt Sally had lost her battle with leukemia.
Sally, my mother’s deep hearted and fun loving sister, was always such a huge fan and supporter of mine. Always quick to laugh, be it at me or something surprisingly hip and aware. The day I was due to fly to LA to begin this trek back in April, she called me. Initially concerned that I was going off the deep end, she challenged me in the most positive and genuinely interested way possible. We had a very personal and lengthy conversation about my motivations for doing it. She thought I was being too hard on myself, but beyond that, she understood. Sally encouraged me and seemed excited about the challenge and potential reward for me and my life. This was tremendously helpful in clarifying my reasons and a resolve that I would need to draw upon later. Though I am so sad to lose her and for my cousins Chris, Brenda and uncle Paul, I know that she will be following me closely on these last miles and doing her best to bring me some sunshine. And if I start feeling sorry for myself again, I will think of what she would likely tell me. “Suck it up and get it done. You can do this.”
I will be flying to NY on Tuesday to celebrate her life with family, before returning Thursday night. No matter rain, snow, sleet or splendid sun, I will be back on the trail early Friday morning to complete the remaining 260 miles to Canada. Stay tuned.
I love you, Sally.
Bears… done that. Night hiking… done that. Mountain lions… where? Rattlesnakes… done that. 2600 miles… no problem. Rain… my worst nightmare.
I arrived White Pass, mile 2303, last night and now heading out to begin four day, 100 mile trip to Snoqualmie Pass. Two weeks and counting until Canada. I hope the weather holds out. I will update this blog a bit more in a few days.
A recent Facebook post:
Okay, so I’m officially worried about being able to finish. I’ve lost my mojo a bit and I need to get it back quick. The weather is turning in a big way and I feel this tremendous pressure to finish as quickly as possible, before the snow storms and incessant rain. Trouble is, my body can’t take too many big mileage days in a row. My joints are making clicking noises and I’m starting to sense that something isn’t right. That said, I’m generally fine, but trying to do 35-40 miles a day to make up time and get the most out of good weather days, may be a bad idea. I’m soft. The rain sucks and I just want to be clean and in a warm bed. If I can suck it up enough to hike everyday, then finishing by Oct. 1-3 sometime should work. It was supposed to be Sept. 29, before Wes and my time in Portland happened. Forgive me if I’m whining a bit. One thing I’ve been constantly reminded about on this trip, is that if all you do is keep putting one foot after another, everything will get better. It’s getting harder, but I will continue to do that.