CYCLING ACROSS AMERICA

+ WAIT WHAT?

In 2011, the summer before my senior year of college, I rode a bicycle between the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean across the United States from Yorktown, Virginia to Florence, Oregon. I followed paper maps along the "TransAmerica Trail". On the ride between both oceans I covered 4,200 miles in 60 days, 70 miles/day. After I reached the Pacific Ocean I rode another 300 miles up US-101 to Seattle over the next 10 days. I was 21 years old.

+ WHAT'S THE TRANSAMERICA TRAIL

The TransAmerica Trail is a bicyle route across the United States sponsored by an organization called Adventure Cycling. The route is a connection of country roads and state highways across the country.

Back in 1976 some National Geographic photographers rode bicylces 4,250 miles across the U.S. to celebrate the Bicentennial. Their ride was lovingly referred to as the "Bikecentennial". The long version of that story is linked here:

Adventure Cycling has a short write-up description of the route on their site. The summary is linked here:

+ WHY DID YOU DO IT?

In May 2011, one month before school was about to let out for the summer, I got a call that the internship I had planned on working for the summer pulled the plug due to lack of work. (On a side note: I ended up working for them for four years after I graduated. I would eventually quit to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.)

So there I was, one month before classes were to end with no path to meaningful degree related experience (civil engineering).

Instead of getting a job at say, Burger King, I decided to really throw life to the wind.

I went down the street in my quaint little college town of Athens, Ohio and bought a bicycle with my credit card. I called my dad and asked him to set aside a couple days in June to drive me down to Virginia, "I'm going to ride a bicycle across the United States."

There really isn't a much deeper reason than I lost an internship at the last minute. I was at a point in my life where I could easily justify a few thousand more dollars of debt ontop of the $sixty-thousand-and-whateverso dollars of student loan debt I was (still) swimming in.

I put the whole thing on credit card. And over the next couple years I paid those expenses off. That type of bounce back is a benefit of going to college to earn a marketable skill.

I'm not really sure where the idea was planted. I remember talking about the idea with friends a year or so prior over beers at the Pigskin. But beyond that the thought never really crossed my mind. Until I lost that internship.

+ WHAT DID YOUR PARENTS THINK?

Okay.

+ DID YOU GO BY YOURSELF?

Yes.

This isn't exactly an adventure many people are willing to jump in on with a moment's notice.

But there were riders out there. For a couple days in the east I crossed paths with two college aged riders from Western Kentucky University.

Out west I cross paths for just a moment with a married couple who lived in, of all places, Athens, Ohio (where I went to college).

For a day and a half I rode with a national champion down hill mountain biker from Cal Poly. We split ways when our routes diverged.

I crossed paths with a few other riders too. But almost all of those 4,500 miles that summer were alone in my own lane.

That's not to say I was alone on the day to day. Strangers along the way were more than happy to engage in a short conversation, or meal. Heck I even split a motel room with a couple in Dubois, Wyoming (I was more than happy to use the complementary ear plugs).

+ WAS IT LONELY?

No.

They say you're middle aged when everyone you meet reminds you of someone else.

I met enough people that summer to push my middle age years back another decade.

+ HOW MANY PEOPLE DO THIS?

By my educated guess I'd say about 500 people ride a bicycle across the U.S. one way or another each year.

+ HOW DID YOU TRAIN?

For the month before I hit the road I cycled up and around the rolling foothills of the Applachian Mountains near Athens, Ohio. Only once did I ride 50 miles prior to the trip (where I would average 70 miles per day).

+ HOW LONG AGAIN? AND HOW MANY MILES PER DAY?

60 days between the coasts; 70 miles per day; 4,200 miles. And another 300 up the coast for a total of 70 days on the road and 4,500 miles.

+ WHAT'S THE FURTHEST YOU RODE IN A DAY?

113 miles from Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado to Encampment, Wyoming.

+ HOW MUCH DID IT COST?

I'm not sure how much it cost me, a few thousand dollars perhaps. I didn't keep track.

My bike was fairly basic by touring standards, a steel frame 8-speed, with regular pedals. I paid roughly $875.

+ WHAT BIKE DID YOU BUY?

Link: 2011 Masi Speciale CX Uno

+ DID YOU COOK?

No.

+ WHERE DID YOU PUT YOUR STUFF?

Panniers. Think horse saddle bags. They go over the rear tire. I also had a basket on the front of the bike for quick access stuff like the maps.

+ HOW DID YOU HAVE WATER?

I wore a CamelBak on my back. It's basically a couple leader bladder with a hose you can pipe right to your mouth for a drink on demand. I'd fill up at spigots or bathrooms along the way. I never ran out of water to the point of severe dehydration.

+ WHAT DID YOU EAT?

Gas stations, fast food, that kind of stuff.

+ WHAT DID YOU BRING?

Link: Bike Trip Equipment

+ HOW MANY FLAT TIRES DID YOU GET?

Three:

  1. Carbondale, Illinois
  2. Kansas
  3. Kansas, the next day

+ WHERE DID YOU SLEEP?

About every three or four nights I'd get a motel room. In between that I'd camp along the way. Sometimes I'd camp in national forests, or state parks. More than a few times I'd sleep next to picnic tables under pavilions in small town parks.

On the very first night I unexpectedly got caught in the rain and walked off to sleep in the woods behind a shopping strip in Mechanicsville, Virginia.

+ DID YOU GET LAID?

No

+ SAY SOMETHING COOL THAT HAPPENED

On this vacant stretch of wilderness in Idaho inbetween gas stations that were 100 miles apart, a kind soul left a cold red Gatorade on the side of the road with a note, "Rock on cyclist."

I've been saying "Rock on" ever since.

+ WERE YOU EVER SCARED?

One night I was camped somewhere I wasn't supposed to inbetween Yellowstone National Park and Grand Tetons National Park. I didn't sleep much that night, genuinely afraid I was going to get eaten by a grizzly bear.

And if you really want a story ask me about the time I was almost raped in a two-hundred person town in Montana. You'll never hear the words "Montana Cheeseburger" the same again.

+ WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART?

The hills make you strong, but the wind makes you mean. I rode east to west, but the prevailing winds blow west to east. I got the worst of that over three days in Wyoming. The wind was strong enough to blow me to a stop when rolling down hill. And to this day I'd equate moments of anger during those days to the most of any in my life.

The other tough part were the hills in Appalachia. It was as if the hills were left as they are and someone simply paved over them. The worst of that were the hill in Kentucky when it wouldn't stop raining and I couldn't stop riding.

+ WERE THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS TOUGH?

Not really. It's hard to say because by the time I got to Colorado I was in such great shape. But objectively the established highways through the Rockies have grades that rarely get above 6%, and they're so well maintained. For comparison, a rogue hill on a country road in Appalachia could fetch 30%.

+ DID ANYTHING BAD HAPPEN?

I lost my wallet outside Missoula, Montana. I left it at a gas station while I was stuffing pop tarts in my bag.

Ironically I lost my wallet immediately (as in minutes) after I had found a lost wallet of a Missoula resident in the road and turned it in to the police...

+ ARE YOU GLAD YOU DID IT?

Yes.

+ WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE TO FINISH?

There were unplanned moments of the type of euphoria you can only shout to the heavens with a smile. But not at the very end. One of those moments came when I saw the snow capped mountains of Colorado in the distance for the first time. I had just rode to from Virginia to Colorado, the scale of the trip was starting to sink in.

But at the end, I wheeled up to sand dunes outside Florence, Oregon just about sunset (unplanned). I walked down to the water and had a stranger take my picture. I said, "I just road a bicycle across the United States." I don't even remember him responding.

And that was it. I didn't need a reminder what just happened. I was there for the past 4,200 miles.

Time and time again you'll hear people emphasize the journey, not the destination. That was the case here as well.

The next day I was back on the bike, off the maps, on my way north to Seattle.

+ HOW DID YOU GET BACK?

I took a bus, Greyhound specifically, from Seattle to Cleveland. I left late on a Wednesday night and got home early on a Saturday driving almost continuosly with only one 2 hour layover in Minneapolis. That trip was an adventure in its own right, which included a felon behind apprehended on my bus early in the morning in Idaho.

+ WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN?

I'm open to it.

I've got a alot of other stuff to do first. But I'm open to the idea. I'd probably need a significant other to push me in that direction. For as long as I've got an itch for a long solo bike ride I'll probably seek new routes.

+ WOULD YOU (ME) RECOMMEND I (YOU) DO IT?

I don't know who you are, but YES!

I don't care what kind of shape you're in. It's a bike. If you get tired just go slower. If you can't go slow, go to bed and try again the next day. There are 24 hours in a day. There's a lot of time in the day to get where you need to be on a bike.

This is an adventure for a wide range of ages. Probably something like 16 to 66. In fact, my dad rode his bike around Lake Erie last year on a several hundred mile bike ride. He was 62+/-. This year he's riding his bike from Cleveland to Washington, D.C.

Maybe you don't have any money. Maybe you a make a lot of money and don't want to risk breaking the money tree.

Either way your problem is in essence this same. You haven't done it. Just do it.

 

PACIFIC CREST TRAIL

+ WAIT WHAT?

On April Fool's Day 2016 I left my job as a civil engineer to walk from the U.S. border of Mexico to Canada. Over six months, between April 24 and October 24, I walked 2,650 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) through remote reaches of California, Oregon, and Washington, carrying the food and equipment I needed on my back . I was 26 years old.

+ WHAT'S THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL?

The PCT is a wilderness trail which is endcapped by Campo, California and Manning Park, British Columbia.

Campo, California is about 30 or 40 miles southeast of San Diego. Manning Park is a Canadian national park on the eastern edge of the Cascade mountain range, just across the U.S. border, north of Washington state.

Primarily a hiking trail, but also completable by horseback, the PCT runs mostly through national forest and wilderness areas, but also several National Parks as well. By my best guess, less than 10% of the trail requires road walking.

Originally designated a national scenic trail in 1968, the PCT was officially completed in 1993. The completed route is a connection of local and regional trails across three states.

Some history about the trail presented by the Paicific Crest Trail Association (the primary managing organization of the trail) is linked here:

"PCT History"

+ WHY DID YOU DO IT?

Three (3) things were unintentionally swirling around my head at once:

  1. There was a girl who did me wrong
  2. I wanted a new truck
  3. I'm a pretty adventurous and capabale guy

I actually wrote a long blog post about the girl while out on the PCT. But even the short and sweet version of the story showed her (rightfully so) in a generally bad light in the eyes of almost any human being with a pulse, so I decided to take it down after receiving anonymous threats (that of course she had no idea where they were coming from). It just wasn't worth my time and energy to share that post with all of you.

After I make my Million Dollars you can read about it in the book.

Around the same time the shit hit the fan with this girl I wanted to buy a new truck. I had my car appraised and I knew I could get about $10,000 out of it after the payoff was said and done. I was just going to use that money as a down payment on the new truck and continue on with my job which I generally enjoyed at the time.

But when shit did hit the fan, I hopped in my car in Columbus, Ohio and drove to Minneapolis, Minnesota to meet up with an old friend and watch a football game.

Early in the 12 hour drive I thought to myself, "What the Hell am I working for? Just to pay for a truck? Just to get let down by things I can't control? What's the point in living like that?"

There's got to be more I am capable of than this.

I liked my job. But I have a mountain of student loan debt, probably close to $50,000 at the time. Even so, for a few minutes I fantasized about quitting, spending the money I could get out of my car on some $10,000 adventure.

Then I snapped back at myself, "I can't quit my job."

But why not? What am I waiting for? What perfect time is there down the road?

We all have to take a leap to get to where we want. All of us, without exception, need to step beyond ourselves to get to a place we want to be, the place we choose when we're alone with our own thoughts.

Where did I want to be though? What would I even do?

After my bike trip I mentioned canoing the Mississippi River from the golf course at Ohio University to the Gulf Coast of Mexico. But four years of working with water treatment plant designs amplified just how dirty that river is. Plus that would only take a couple months and cost much less than $10k.

After considering other options like an extended Eurotrip or living out of a van in southern California or even South America, I remembered the PCT, the trail my college advisor talked about.

So right there in that car, without much more than a couple hours to think about it, I resolved to quit my job, and walk from the U.S. border of Mexico to Canada.

And I did.

I was done waiting to live.

+ WHAT DID YOUR PARENTS THINK?

Okay.

+ DID YOU GO BY YOURSELF?

Yes.

And I'll borrow an unnamed quote for a second:

"I was never going to go if I waited for someone to come with me."

+ WAS IT LONELY?

No.

In the beginning I'd cross paths with people almost every day. There always seemed to be someone old, someone new.

I even developed a few short term friendships with people out on the trail I really enjoyed hiking with. There were several groups I ran with for a little while, if only at a rough distance. Pace and timing always introduced me to someone new. Right up to the very last week, where by that point I was truly on my own. Hopefully I'll see a few of their faces again some day.

If you're worried about hiking alone you can most likely find a tribe to run with on the PCT. There's a lot to like about the people you meet.

+ DID I SEE THE MOVIE "WILD"?

The one with Reese Witherspoon?

Yes.

I have mixed feelings about the movie. I didn't pay much attention honestly.

The movie has about as much to do with the Pacific Crest Trail as "Forrest Gump" has to do with growing up in the 60s/70s/and 80s.

Love it or hate it, the movie is not really about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

+ HOW DID I HEAR ABOUT THE PCT?

My college advisor made an unsuccessful attempt of the PCT with a buddy in the '90s. They started in the north in May and quit within a couple weeks into the trip due to overbearing volumes of snow.

+ WHAT DIRECTION DO PEOPLE HIKE?

Over 90% of hikers these days walk south to north.

Seasons restrict the hiking schedule. Starting in the south in March through May provides enough time for the snow to melt in the Sierra Nevada of central California (June-ish) and gives hikers until October to beat the snow in the Cascade mountain range of Washington. Not to forget to mention there's more water in the deserts of southern California in the spring than the fall.

Starting in the north in May is far too early without mountaineering equipment. Most hikers will have to wait til July, and hurry because they need to beat October snow in the Sierra Nevada of central California.

Long story short, if you start in the south you have about a 6 month window. Starting in the north gives you about a 4 to 5 month window.

That extra time could make or break a thru-hike. That extra month made mine.

+ WHEN DO PEOPLE HIKE?

Last year, two men completed the first ever winter thru-hike. There was at least one previous fatal attempt.

Link to story here:

"Winter PCT Thru-hike"

From my brief two week stint hiking the PCT in the snow in the North Cascades of Washington, their accomplishment is unrelatable to all PCT hikers but those who have logged the day by day miles of a mountaineering expedition.

This is a spring, summer, fall hiking trail only. It becomes mountaineering once the snow falls.

+ DO YOU NEED A PERMIT?

Yes.

You need a California Wildfire Permit (free and easy).

You also need a long-distance hiking permit that you do need to carry with you as the national park rangers will ask to see it and you are subject to a real fine. The PCT permit is pretty cheap.

Because of the increasing popularity of the PCT after the release of the movie "Wild" the PCTA limits the trail to 50 starts each day. If you can't draw the start date you want you can either (1) get a permit for a start date you don't want and go when you want any way, or (2) you can start in the north and go south. Their goal with the permitting is to spread out the hikers so people aren't walking ontop of each other to start out. Not to forget to mention when heards of hikers stomp through the wilderness at the same time the impact on the surrounding envirnoment is quite noticeable.

If you are going from south to north you need a permit to enter Canada by foot. If you are going north to south, you can't start in Canada.

Link to permits here:

"PCT Permits"

+ WHAT DID YOU BRING?

My equipment list is linked in the excel table here:

"My PCT Equipment"

+ HOW BIG OF A BAG DID YOU USE? HOW MUCH DID IT WEIGH?

My bag was an 85L Gregorgy Baltoro. Depending on the amount of food and water I was carrying the bag could range from 30 to every bit of 50 pounds.

The typical thru-hiker bag is a ~58L Osprey. Without food and water their loads range from 18-22 pounds.

My bag was so large because of the camera equipment I was carrying. At the very end, the space was critical as I need every inch to make the final push to Canada with snow shoes and all.

I only met one old man from Idaho with a bag bigger than mine. And in general I had to be in the bottom 10th percentile of bag weight on the trail.

+ DID YOU MAIL YOURSELF PACKAGES?

No.

I was actually the only hiker, of all that I met and read about that didn't mail a single package to the trail.

Some will even go as far to plan out every stop including a variety of prepared meals.

I never even looked into it. Mailing packages seemed like it would require an exorbitant amount of time.

But people do it at one point or another. Almost every one in fact. I just bought everything I needed along the way. Even the snow shoes at the end.

+ WHAT DID YOU EAT?

  • Blue box Mac & Cheese
  • Tuna
  • Pop tarts
  • Oatmeal
  • Cliff Bars
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Ramen
  • Snickers

The general rule of thumb is 2 pounds of food per day. Realistically the number to get by on was half that for a while. But eventually I lost about all the fat I had to give and probably started carrying more than 2 pounds per day.

One week I wrote about what was in my grocery cart in a blog post linked here:

"My 2nd Week in the Sierra"

+ HOW FAR DID YOU WALK EACH DAY?

I started out averaging about 14 miles per day. Each month I would get about 2 miles per day stronger, to the point that by month 6 I could average 26 miles per day.

I did just over 30 miles on a few occasions on the second half of the trip.

Thru-hikers will generally average 18 miles per day to complete the trail in 5 months, which is the average amount of time.

I was slow.

Last one to Canada in fact.

A general rule is each extra pound is worth about one mile per day. That's a big part of why the weight of the bag is so critical to success.

+ WHERE DID YOU SLEEP?

Outside, on the ground, outside of my tent over half the nights.

Every 5 to 7 days I'd get a motel room or something like it. I think my longest stretch sleeping outside was about 21 days in a row.

+ WAS IT COLD?

For the first couple months the overnight lows had me pretty cold in my sleeping bag (quilt). I simply needed a warmer bag, as the lows regularly dipped into the 30s. After Labor Day up north the overnight lows started getting cold again. And at the very end (October) if I wasn't wet and approaching freezing, I was sleeping on snow.

Cold was somehting I feared planning for this hike. But after it was all said and done, I can say the exposure is manageable for most who bring the appropriate clothes and sleeping bag (some don't).

I started with a 20 degree F lightweight down quilt. But in Bend, Oregon I finally picked up a better sleeping bag, a 22 degree F synthetic bag. The synthetic bag made a world of difference. I wish I had it the entire time.

+ HOW DID YOU GET TO STORES AND STUFF?

Hitch-hiking is a such a huge part of thru-hiking this trail. It's essential. Over a dozen times I stuck my thumb out for rides to get somewhere. And I always found my way back to where I left off. The longest hitch was last though. After I got to the border I was able to catch a 175 hitch from the Mazama to Seattle, Washington.

+ DID YOU GET LAID?

No

+ SAY SOMETHING COOL THAT HAPPENED

In northern California a woman I met at the library let me spend the night at her house and even drive her Subaru to get more beer.

There should really be a button for this question. Because alot of cool things happen when your rambling around the west for six months.

One of the cool things I did miss was Cleveland's NBA Championship. Before this hike I could've never imagined that I would be somewhere in the world without any way to get the word of Cleveland's first championship since 1964. But I was. Two days after the Cavs won game 7 I was walking down Kearsarge Pass in the Sierra Nevada mountain range when a day hiker from Las Vegas asked where I was from. When I said Cleveland, he said, "Congrats!"

I said, "Shut up."

A weight was lifted off my shoulders in that moment. I would compare it to finally getting my driver's license, or becoming old enough to drink. For the first time in my life, the city where I was from finally won something. And I was two days late to the party.

+ HOW DID YOU CHARGE YOUR ELECTRONICS?

I used a 26,800 mAh Anker battery brick. It weighed about 1.5 pounds and was good for about 10 phone charges from 0 to 100%. I'd use that to charge my phone, Nikon, and Go Pro.

The brick would take 6 hours to charge fully. I'd piece together the charges where I could at gas stations, restaurants, or motels.

I never completely ran out of power, but got close a couple times.

+ WHAT KIND OF CAMERA DID YOU BRING?

I brought a Nikon D5300 and a GoPro Hero 4.

My photos are linked here:

"Pacific Crest Trail Photos"

My video summary of the hike is linked here:

"A Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hike in 4 Minutes!"

+ WHAT WAS THE BEST PART?

The hike was a constant stimulus. I can't even recount it in a continuous stream of memory. I have to break up portions of it to even think about what happened.

I was out there walking for six months.

California was awesome. Oregon was awesome. Washington was awesome.

The PCT was the best part.

If you're looking for trip ideas:

My best suggestion for one of the least default vacations in America would be a trip to Stehekin, Washinton and North Cascades National Park. Stehekin is only accessible by air, boat, or foot. What that means for you is a mainland logistical nightmare that ends with a 4 hour one way ferry ride across Lake Chelan to the landlocked tiny town. But the destination may be the closest thing we have to an American Alps in the Lower 48.

(Reach out to me btw if you're looking for trip ideas in the Lower 48)

Shout out to the people as well, people from all walks of life. A thru-hike is unparalleled in its ability to attract bankers, hippies, engineers, nurses, lawyers, cleaning ladies, oil men, you name it, to the same place at the same point in time, in their freest form.

The people hiking the Pacific Crest Trail are so alive that their pursuit of happiness would leave most Americans speechless.

+ WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART?

Rainy days were tough in Oregon and Washington because everything gets wet. There were two consecutive nights in Washington I went to bed at near freezing temps with a soaking wet sleeping bag. It was border line dangerous. Eventually I was able to dry out enough on the third day when the Sun came out for a bit.

One of those nights I actually camped on the trail in the rain under the cover a large tree. I used a fire to dry out my sleeping back while the rain fell all around me. I wrote about that experience on the post linked here:

"Fire and Rain"

What was tougher than the rain was the final push to Canada. I wrote an extended take on that linked here:

"Last on to Canada Loses"

I don't even group those two weeks into my PCT experience. They were that different.

+ WERE YOU EVER SCARED?

Right up until the very end I never felt in danger, either from man or nature.

But the simple fact is I was just walking too slow. I hung around too long, and put myself at the will of the weather, and that was scary.

A with a 1 in 3 chance to be "long remembered" hit the Pacific Northwest when I was still 80 miles from the border. As that storm was dumping down on the mountains I wrote this post from safety of Chelan, Washington:

"Decision Points"

At the very end of that post I captured my sentiments about the then conditions of the trail:

"Decision point after decision point I continue to take a "find a way" approach to Canada. My spirits are still high. This is far from a death march. And I'm pretty damn glad to be out here each and every day.

Completing this walk is my personal mission. But I reflect on the freedom that allows me to pursue the life of my choosing. And in that reflection I see the men and women who sacrificed their lives, who bore the burden and historical criticism of tough decisions to settle and defend the land that includes the land I walk on; land that Thomas Jefferson once purchased for 3 cents an acre from France's Dictator, Napoleon Bonaparte.

The thought of these men and women motivate me to not give up, to find a way. And on a more personal note, I don't want to let down all the kind folks who have helped me make it this far. All those that gave me rides to and from the trail, a bed to sleep in, food, beer... I want them to have helped a guy who walked all the way from the U.S. border of Mexico to the U.S. border of Canada, not one who decided to finish 100 miles short.

PCT Mile 2,569.4."

Then right as I headed back to the trail after the storm let up I posted this:

"Acknowledgement of Risk"

"Today I'll return to the trail. And most likely I'll be all alone. This past weekend's weather front sent the hikers home in droves, many stopping just 30 miles from the border. At least one hiker reported knee deep snow at 7,000 feet and turned around (right where I'm heading).

To surmount this obstacle I picked up a pair of rubberized boots, Gortex gloves, gaiters, snow shoes, and additional base layers for hiking and sleeping. High temperatures will be in the low 30s and lows will be in the teens. Rain at a minimum is gaurunteed most of the week.

Yes I'm nervous."

In fact, I was prepared to die. This isn't a hindsight glorification. It wasn't a suicide mission either. Though I had never put on a pair of snow shoes in my entire life, much less walk blind into the mountains with a couple feet of snow, I wanted to complete my goal more than the uncertain terms before me. I put myself into life threatening danger. I brought ten days of food. I told my dad what to do if he didn't hear from me in 10 days. And I set off. By the grace of a few lucky breaks, I reached Canada unscathed on Oct. 24.

I was scared. I didn't know what was going to happen. It didn't unfold as planned, that's for sure, and I wrote about here:

"The Last Stitch"

But I made it:

"Just Do It"

+ WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE TO FINISH?

I heard once on a podcast that the day after Ray Allen won an NBA Championship he got a haircut.

The moral to the story is life goes on.

When I got to the U.S. border of Canada, I still had to walk back 30 miles through the mountains to get to the nearest road, and then hitch hike 175 miles to Seattle. There the rest of my life was waiting. I have no intentions of becoming yesterday's man.

Even at the border my gears were turning on the next goal, my Million Dollar Mountain. I was at the border for less than an hour. I took some pictures and ate a Pop Tart. It felt kind of like giving yourself an out of body hi-five, "I told you I could do it".

The process was the prize. I had been holding it the whole time.

+ I WILL SAY THIS

Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail will change your life.

I don't say this about cycling across America. But I do say this about the PCT.

There's some magic in carrying everything you need on your back for months while walking some unimagineable distance through a vast expanse of wilderness. It changes how most perceive the world, their wants and needs. Most will never be the same.

Its an experience that provides more life than all but perhaps the gift of life itself.

If you ask my opinion, the sooner the better.

+ WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN?

Yes.

I have other things I want to do first, but yes.

If I did another long distance trail in the near future it would either be the Continental Divide Trail (Mexico to Canada via New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana) or the Te Aurora (1,800 miles across New Zealand).