Ok, here we go…
Sometime around 1982 I went backpacking for the first time with my Dad to Twin Sister’s Lakes in the South Cascades of Washington. He carried my pack for part of the way. Ironically, my pack then was heavier than the pack weights of some PCT hikers nowadays.
After the first night we took a day hike to a lake called Frying Pan lake. After a couple miles we reached a trail called the “Pacific Crest Trail #2000”. I asked my Dad why it had the number 2000 since all the other trail numbers were a lot lower. He said it was because it went from Mexico to Canada and was around 2000 miles long. That sounded cool but since I was only in the 3rd (or 4th?) grade the idea of a two mile trail was daunting enough so I didn’t give it much more thought.
I had a couple more flirtations with the PCT, mostly centered around the Chinook Pass and White Pass area. In grade school I hiked to Dewey Lakes and to Sheep Lake. The latter sticking in my head when I was listening to the (then new) Duran Duran cassette “Seven and the Ragged Tiger”. We cross country skied to Deer Lake one winter just north of White Pass. I’m amazed that the shelter at Sand Lake is still there after all of these years. We also spent some time on the PCT in the Central Cascades near Arch rock when I was in 10th grade.
I graduated high school in 1991. I did a year of community college in Yakima which ranks somewhere around the 10 worst ways I have spent my time. I was a bit idle in 1992-1993 and just waiting tables at the local Red Robin. The restaurant job provided me with both significant income (for me) and significant apathy (for me) towards being a “team player” and climbing the corporate ladder.
One day in 1993 I saw a newspaper article about the PCT in the Yakima Herald-Republic newspaper. The article talked about how the PCT was now “completed” (for the most part, about 8 miles of it is still on roads). It occurred to me that I could actually hike the trail since I was no longer in school.
I spent a year doing research, which then just consisted of the PCT guidebook and Ray Jardine’s “PCT Hiker’s Handbook”. I felt like I needed to hike the trail with someone and that I didn’t want to commit to doing the whole trail. The idea of hiking Washington State (~500 miles) appealed to me since it was my backyard. I reached out to my friend Curtiss Notch and he was down with the idea.
In late 1993 I had moved to Bellingham, WA and got a job in a record store (Cellophane Square RIP). I stayed in touch with Curtiss and proceeded to train for the hike.
On August 1st, 1994 we set out from Cascade Locks. It was one of the most memorable months of my life. Curtiss was having knee problems and had to hop off the trail at Stehekin. I finished on September 8th, 1994.
I was originally planning on hiking the whole PCT in 1995, but that ended up being one of the highest snowfall years on record. This kind of disrupted my plans and I was a little wayward for awhile.
I moved to Seattle in late 1995 not knowing exactly what I was going to do. In early 1996 I got involved with an environmental group which is also in the top 10 biggest wastes of my time. I wasn’t quite sure about doing the PCT that year. Tickets for the first Tibetian Freedom Concert in San Francisco went on sale and I decided to go. Since I was going to be in California, I thought maybe it would be good to hike the rest of the PCT that I had not done.
Because it was too hot in Southern California in June, I decided to start at Highway 58 outside of the Mojave Desert and hike North to Cascade Locks, Oregon. I had a great time on this trip, worthy of a whole other website. I reached Cascade Locks in late September 1996. I decided to go back and finish the remainder of the trail in November of 1996. I left Campo on November 4th, 1996. It was kind of nice to have the whole trail to myself…I maybe saw 10 other hikers. I saw a couple southbound hikers that I had seen earlier in the year. I reached Highway 58 on December 4th, 1996 which completed the PCT for me.
Over the next 17 years I went back to school and got a Computer Science Degree, rode my bike around Australia, bought a house, got married, and got a job that actually paid above minimum wage. Since I turn 40 in July 2013, I felt the urge to be on some kind of journey, and with my understanding wife Cora giving me to the nod to travel I decided to make it happen.
I spent early 2013 dehydrating food and making up my resupply boxes. I discovered that there are two different types of websites concerning the dehydration of food. a) “Oh my God! Life is awesome, let’s dry a bunch of food and go on an awesome journey!” and b) “Oh my God! The world is going to end, and I want to be able to eat and stay a live while everything sucks”.
Making up resupply boxes was A LOT of work but I’m glad I did it. My neighbor Bob goes to Costco a lot so I started tagging along with him. It wasn’t until I bought several hundred dollars’ worth of junk food that I felt committed to the trip.