Hiking from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail
My dad, Kyle and I made a rather impulse decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2011. Kyle and I returned from Southeast Asia the second week of March 2011, giving us a little over a month to prepare for the biggest journey of our lifetime. We had minimal experience and quickly realized there was no way we would be fully prepared at the start of our journey.
We set out on our journey anyway. My dad had yet to go on an overnight backpacking trip, and neither Kyle or I had been in over a year.
Each hiking season is started with a ‘Kick Off Party’ near the start of the trail. We all learned so much by listening to speakers, checking out the latest gear, and meeting other long distance hikers. We each found something in our packs we could send home, and exchanged some of our heavier items out for the newest, lightest version.
The next four months across California and Oregon were the most special and meaningful months of my life. I learned so much about myself, the trail and the importance of community. Us thru-hikers were blessed with hundreds of Trail Angel’s supporting us along the way. If it had not been for all the love and support shown to us, we would not have made it as far as we had.
Acts of kindness varied from beer left on the trail to people welcoming us into their homes. The Anderson’s and the Saufley’s spent the entire hiking season hosting hikers, preparing food for us, doing our laundry, offering support and laughs, and so much more. I had never experienced such a loving community and it improved my views of humanity.
We had our good days, and our bad. My dad, ‘Tortoise’, walked around 400 with us. Kyle, who was given the trail name Dumptruck, and I walked somewhere around 1,650 miles in 2011. We happened to choose the year with the highest snowfall on record in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The deep snow, and flooding rivers proved to be a great challenge for all. The snow melt made for extremely high and dangerous river crossings.
Many had the determination to continue, but many of us chose to ‘flip-flop’. For Kyle and I, that meant skipping up to Fish Lake, Oregon and hiking South. We hiked South almost to Lake Tahoe and then returned North to complete Oregon. When we made it to Washington, Kyle and I decided to call it a year. We had walked as many miles as we felt right and left the last 1,000 for 2012. We chose to spend time at each lake, make side-trips off trail to visit hot springs and friends. We were content hiking between 12 and 28 miles per day.
I am proud of what we accomplished on the trail our first year. Like many say, it was about the journey rather than the destination. My travel-style does not rush things, which is exactly what we did on the PCT. I had no desire to hurry through the most beautiful experience of my life. I met so many great friends, and knew we would be back to finish the trail the following summer.