The Pacific Crest Trail is a continuous 2,650 mile trail stretching from Canada through 3 states to Mexico. This National Scenic Trail, envisioned by Clinton C. Clarke, “travels along the summit divide of the mountain ranges traversing the best scenic areas while maintaining an absolute wilderness character.” Traveling through 25 National forests and 7 National parks on foot provides a wholesome view of the nature and culture encapsulated in the West.
Many people wonder why someone would choose to embark on such an extensive trek. After being in school for the past 17 years of my life simply walking for 6 months seemed like the best option for relieving my mind. With the limited funds acquired through graduation, I figured this would be the most efficient use of my money and time. At first I thought that this would give me time to decide what I want to do with my future but gradually realized that it is best to take life one step at a time. I constantly find myself on journeys within the original adventure.
The Trek began on June 14 in the Northern Cascade Range in Washington, with a 30 mile jaunt to the Canadian Border. This proved to be much more than just a little jaunt as there was over 10 feet of snow left on the mountains from previous snows as the final snow of the season coming in. A simple hike quickly transformed into a mountaineering experience requiring an ice axe and crampons.
It’s good to kindle healthy relationships early in the journey. This prairie dog in Manning Park, Canada was very friendly until I realized all he wanted was my food; this earned him a little finger wagging and a brief talking to.
Although hiking alone is the prominent mode of travel it is great to have friends to hike with occasionally and someone to camp and share conversation with. My former college roommate and friend, Michael Marshall (beard) and Taylor Morganson (middle) have accompanied me along this journey. Michael and I romped through the snow of Washington together and Taylor joined on the border of Washington and Oregon.
When embarking on a 2650 mile walk every item you carry must serve a prominent purpose. Royal Robbins provides lightweight clothing with function and style worthy of climbing mountains to enjoying cold beverages in town during a resupply.
Music festivals are a great way to get your mind off hiking for a little bit. Northwest String Summit at Hornings Hideout in Oregon provided 4 days of bluegrass but no lack of wildlife. This albino peacock thought it was alright to sneak up on us early in the morning and steal some grapes.
The trail meanders through many unique environments. This area right before 3 Sisters Wilderness provided many miles of strolling though lava flows. Many hikers complain about the expansive ankle-rolling ground but I thought it provided a great sense of the true power of nature.
Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon is one of those places that create an intense feeling of awe. The sun rising over the rim of the crater was one of the most unique sunrises I have ever experienced. As the colors brightened around the massive lake, the wind swirled the surface of the water below creating a duo of majesty.
As with every adventure, obstacles are a common theme. The trek started with obstacles in the form of snow forcing us to take different routes and even backtrack up to 50 miles on one occasion. Later in the season fires became the main concern, closing trails and indefinitely threatening our wellbeing.
One of the most exciting aspects of such an extensive walk is the zero days taken in small town and resorts along the trail. A friend in Mt. Shasta California offered for us to stay at his house which also included a Buddhist temple. Other places along the trail offer showers, laundry, shelter, food and libations. Sometimes free, sometimes at a cost.
Trail magic is a term hiker’s use when something really nice is provided to you. One day we were hiking through a dry burn area in the heat of the day when we stumbled upon the Wild Bird Cache. A solar shower, cold sodas, lounge chairs, fresh water, a stove, and a plethora of snacks and cookable goods. It gives you a great feeling inside and a desire to spread that feeling to others.
Being completely immersed in the natural world creates a sense of oneness with all, a sense of belonging to the universe as a whole. You gradually realize that life has evolved for billions of years using the same basic patterns and processes over and over again.