THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL
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.
I took fourteen zero-days in Washington. Fourteen. I reached Cascade Locks on August 22nd—a date I’ll always remember because it was my grandma’s birthday—and I finished at Manning Park on September 29th. I think. I went from hiking 25-30 miles per day to spending my afternoons lazing amongst alpine lakes, reclining at scenic vistas, devouring trail-side huckleberries and, on my last day, I followed in the tracks of a cougar.