Friday, October 10, 2014

FAQ about the PCT, After the Fact (Part Two)

Q: What was your best day?
A: Honestly, I can’t pick out a best day on trail. One of the best, though, was the day we got into Carson Pass near the end of the Sierra. We were starved and malnourished and trying to find cell reception to see if we could go to Sacramento for the week to recover a bit at Zach’s grandparents’ house. That was where we ran into some of the most beautiful wildflowers yet. We crossed a road, and a lady at the visitor center at Carson Pass had made a huge batch of sandwiches and cookies for hikers. We sat there and ate and ate, then hiked up into a gorgeous field of wildflowers… and found cell reception for the first time in weeks. We called our friends and family, and at the end of the day, we hiked to another highway and got picked up by Grandpa Ray and whisked off to Sacramento for a week of relaxation, showers, and copious amounts of food. That was a pretty awesome day.

It wasn't as breathtakingly gorgeous as the high Sierra, but we were deliriously happy that day.
Q: What was your worst day?
A: It’s a toss-up between two days: 
1. The time we walked across the incredibly boring California aqueduct in blazing heat. We hiked into a wind farm that nearly blew us off our feet. I got sand stuck in my eye and it took half an hour to get it out. Then we hiked another seven miles in 60mph gusts of wind (if not stronger), into a pitch black night, hoping to get out of the wind to camp. We never got out of the wind, and could barely sleep that night because of our tent flapping like a sail.

2. The day in the high Sierra when we crossed our first pass, a 13,000-foot notch in the mountains called Forester Pass. It was a long, hard, post-holing snow-walk to get there, followed by a set of dizzying switchbacks up to a narrow pass. We started down the other side. I kept on post-holing and bashing my ankle into rocks. I was afraid we were going to break our ankles and be stranded. We ended up scrambling down a nearly-sheer cliff and inching our way around a frozen lake, with me in hysterics nearly the entire time.

Yeah, neither of those days lives very fondly in my memory.

Q: What was your favorite town?
A: That’s a really tough one— I loved so many of the towns that we passed through! In the end, the unlikely winner goes to Sierra City, California, a tiny old mining village tucked into a deep mountain valley. All the buildings have tin roofs, and a brooding sense of history lies over the town. It was quiet and a bit mysterious and beautiful. Many hikers think it’s creepy, but I loved it. The Methodist church there let us camp on their lawn for free, a fellow thru-hiker bought me ice cream at the general store for my birthday, and a local took us out for breakfast before we hit the trail again in the morning.
A very close second place goes to Stehekin, Washington, a remote community on the banks of Lake Chelan. It was gorgeous, the town let us stay in a boathouse to keep out of the rain, and their bakery had the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever eaten.

Q: Would you do it again?
A: No, I don’t think we would ever thru-hike the PCT again— we feel like we conquered the trail, and had the full experience. We’ve kicked around the idea of tackling the Appalachian Trail, or perhaps the eastern third of the American Discovery Trail, but not in the near future. Right now, I’m pretty excited to settle down and try to start a family. However, everyone says thru-hiking is addictive. I didn’t believe them at first, but now that I’m feeling so nostalgic about the trail, I’m beginning to see what they mean…

When I see photos like this, it's easy to remember a rosy-colored version of the events
 and forget how starving, malnourished, exhausted and afraid I was at this point.
Do you have any questions about the PCT? Your questions will help me figure out how to start blogging about our trip. Thanks!


  1. Hi, I think I saw a post from you guys on the pct Facebook page and it said you had never backpacked before? Is that true? If so what inspired you to start by thru hiking?

    1. Hi Mary! That's right, we had never backpacked at all, except for a little overnight trip in Missouri. In short, we love the outdoors, and we love a challenge. There's a lot more to it than that, though.... I think you've given me the topic for my Monday blog! :-)

  2. How many pairs of shoes did you go through?