This was my second thru-hike, and to be honest, for much of the Appalachian Trail, I never thought I’d hike again. But there I was, immersed within the White Mountains of New Hampshire, when I fell in love with the beauty of alpine vistas. Soon, after hearing stories about what lay out west along the Pacific Crest Trail, I knew where I needed to go next.

In April 2007, I flew to San Diego and began my northbound thru-hike. It was incredible. I was seeing things I’d only ever seen in books, like barrel cactus, fumaroles, volcanic peaks and meadows so rich with wildflowers that I felt like I was hallucinating.

The trail itself is 2,655 miles. It hikes through three states: California, Oregon, and Washington. It hikes through the Sierra Nevada, past Crater Lake and walks beneath a dozen volcanic mountains on it’s way toward the Canadian Border. A short stay in Ashland, Oregon, would result in my decision to soon move west.


It takes three months for the average thru-hiker to complete California. Its 1,700-mile length walks through a continuously changing landscape, from desert to mountain. A few of the most vivid things I remember are the unique and puzzling pitcher plants of northern California, the lenticular clouds hovering above volcanic peaks like Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen, and a misfortunate and painful experience that left me hiking on a stress fracture from Big Bear City to Kennedy Meadows, approximately 450 miles. Yes, I said painful.

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