15 Sep Day 147 – At the end of the line
At mile 1092.3. Hiked 5 miles today.
I was at my desk in Atlanta working for AT&T on March 26th. The next day, March 27th at 5:00 PM, a Border Patrol Agent dropped me off at the PCT monument on the Mexican Border. A long fence with a broad swath of carefully plowed “no man’s land” between the fence and a metal border wall stretched in front of me. I was all by myself. I added a quick entry to the trail register that was hidden in a cubbyhole of the monument and I snapped a few inadequate selfies to mark the occasion. At 5:10 pm, with the sun dropping, I started hiking toward Canada. I was all alone and the last PCT hiker to start on March 27, 2018.
On August 16th, I crossed over a hill to another linear border swath, this one not plowed, but clear cut from Northern Cascades forest and extended across steep mountains. This was the Canadian border. This time I had a lot of company. I celebrated by posing on the northern monument, playing music, and dancing. In between these markers were many achieved milestones, but I wasn’t done yet. Having taken 4 weeks to travel home, then skipping 440 miles from Walker Pass in the Southern California desert to Echo Lake and Chalet above Lake Tahoe, I traveled back to the desert to proceed north over the challenging climbs of high Sierra passes.
Today, having returned to Echo Lake where I started hiking north on May 29th, 109 days earlier, I am truly at the end of the line. I’ve completed a 2652 mile journey that I had first planned 5 years earlier.
Here I am at the end of the line, but as Hannah Montana sings “there’s always gonna be another mountain to climb”, I’ll seek out more adventures.
The day was like any other on the PCT. I started hiking with views of Lake Tahoe. Here is the sunrise.
I planned an easy 5 mile walk to allow plenty of time to hike back to the highway and to hitch a 2 hour ride to Sacramento where I had a flight booked to Atlanta the next day. The PCT has its surprises. I had one of my more difficult creek crossings within a mile of the finish. Since I had to hike a mile and a half back to Highway 50, I actually had to cross this creek twice.
I found a log, but the water was splashing up on it so I needed to take care not to slip.
For my part, it required intense dedication and desire to complete this long hike. Truly, there was never an easy day, but that is life. It’s about the climb, not what’s on the other side. It is also about the people. Those I met along the way and those at home that supported me and cheered me on whether it was sending a resupply or simply checking my progress by reading my blog or following me on Instagram. Some of you also supported my JDRF fundraiser. Along the trail there were countless trail angels. There was David in Idyllwild. When I felt lost in this tourist town, David drove me around on all my errands. Dropping me off at the trail, his last act was to give me a roll of lifesavers. Over the next week, as the day drew to a close and my legs were tired and feet sore, I would pop a lifesaver in my mouth and be encouraged by those that supported me. These people were the lifesavers.
There were dedicated trail angels like David, but also random strangers that on very little information other than my appearance had enough faith to give me a ride. These people gave me the gift of trust. I rode in their cars and trucks and I told my story and listened to whatever they wanted to share. Along the way there were trail angel surprises. Sometimes it was a cooler full of soft drinks and snacks with a sign that said “help yourself”. It was Nate who was at Lake Olallie cooking breakfast for hikers or the men at McGiver cabin sharing their breakfast with PCT hikers.
There was family that I never knew until I set out on this hike. My 2nd cousins in California and Alabama supported me in every way possible. I’ll always remember cousin Margaret meeting me at Hikertown with a Burger King Whopper and fries. No Whooper ever tasted so good.
At least one person on the trail became a good friend and helped in a huge way. Cache22 had me over to his house and drove me to Walker Pass the next day. As we hiked together, he was great company and very encouraging. He offered great advice and I took it. Without his advice, to bring my broad brimmed sun hat to the Sierra, my head would have been surely cooked. Also, his advice led me to carriy significantly leas weight in the Sierra. I mimimized weight by resupplying as often as possible and carrying a small bear vault.
At home my daughter Maura and wife supported me by mailing resupply packages. With my frequently changing plans, this turned out to be more work than intended.
Finally, my biggest fan, my wife, Sandra, helped me achieve my life long dream to complete a thru-hike. This despite months of separation that it involved. It wasn’t always easy on Sandra, but she supported me without complaint.