Today is a four mile hike, mostly downhill to the small community of Manning Park, the closest town to the northern end of the PCT. It is technically illegal to hike south on the PCT into the US, but there is nothing really to stop anyone. Not that I condone it: Don’t do it, who knows what will happen!
I arrived at Manning Park and visited the lodge where they have (slow) WiFi and free showers. I tried to get in touch with a driver (“Yeti”) that provides rides to Vancouver (roughly 2.5 hours away). I was unable to get ahold of Yeti, but I did get my shower. I decided that I’d better start hitchhiking because it may get crowded.
I had heard both happy and sad stories about hitching to Vancouver from Manning Park. Luckily mine was one of the happier ones! I got a ride within 15 minutes from a young guy going to Vancouver. He also knew the area where I was headed and drove me all the way there. I offered to pay him or at least buy him lunch for his kindness, but instead suggested that I “pay it forward”. I promised I would.
I found a Starbucks for snacks and WiFi where Liz helped me arrange my travel home — it truely was a “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” way to get home: Car ride to Vancouver, Train ride to Seattle, Plane to San Jose. I also found a laundromat to clean all my clothes!
Last year I met Quiterie (AKA, Kit or “Mens Shoes”) in Chester and hiked with her and Cloud Rider through Lassen NP to Burney. Kit lives in Vancouver and offered to let me crash on her couch for the evening and drop me off at the train station the next morning. Thanks Kit!
And so ends my epic, five year journey on the PCT! It started as just wanting to fulfill a teenager dream to hike the John Muir Trail and morphed into so much more. More than 2650 miles from Campo, CA to Manning Park, Canada. While it was physically demanding, the real challenge is mental. There were days when I wondered if it was worth it. I kept telling myself “Don’t quit on a bad day.”, and so I did not quit. I did have one injury that suspended hiking last year, but I returned!
So many thanks!
I truly believe that I could never have accomplished the initial 240+ mile Horseshoe Meadows-to-Yosemite Vally Hike (my extended JMT hike), the 180+ mile Tuolumne Meadows-to-Tahoe hike, the 750+ mile Campo-to-Horseshoe-Meadows hike, the 600+ Tahoe-to-Ashland hike, and this years 900+ mile Ashland-to-Canada without the help and encouragement of family and friends.
The biggest sacrifice came from my wife, Liz, who not only encouraged me, watched a bazillion YouTube videos about backpacking and PCT adventures, joined me on practice hikes, helped me plan, offered advice, shared equipment, earnedthe money, paid the bills, ran errands for me, and maintained the house while I was out doing my thing. She didn’t complain (much), but I do know that it has been hard on her and she has had to spend the last few summers alone. Thank you so much Liz! I owe you a lot!
I also got support from a host of other old and new friends: For my extended JMT in 2015, a friend from NJ, Kevin Psarianos, flew out to join Liz and I to start my trip.
We hiked up Mt. Langley together, but Kevin had to leave early due to a family emergency. A few weeks later, Mark Ostrau climbed over Bishop Pass and braved the mosquitoes in Dusy Basin to bring me a food resupply that included a TwoFish Sticky bun and a very nice Pinot Noir.
Mark and Sandy joined Liz to meet me in Yosemite Valley to feed me and celebrate: Of course, they all wanted to go hiking and dragged me along until I pointed out the place we were renting had a very comfy looking reclining chair that I intended to try out.
In 2016, Jan and Patricja Schwoebel drove me up to Yosemite and dropped me off at Tuolumne Meadows.
After I arrived in Tahoe, Dana Kreitter met me and delivered me back home.
In 2017, my father, Pat and his wife, Janet dropped me off at Trail Angels Scout and Frodo’s house in San Diego, where I would get transported to the Southern Terminus.
Liz drove down to Wrightwood to bring me supplies and spend a weekend with me.
Greg Watson met me (and Medic) at Warner Pass, delivered us to a hotel in Ridgecrest, bought us dinner and lunch the next day and then dropped us back off on the PCT.
Mike Park and David Carnivale shipped a care package to me for pickup at Kennedy Meadows containing a nice bottle of wine, a cigar and a flask of whiskey!
Piyush Kothari drove up to Kennedy Meadows, hiked section of trail with me and cooked me an awesome dinner and breakfast.
Steve Schaniel met me in Lone Pine and drove me home by way of his family’s cabin in June Lake.
After I returned to work, my friend Lisa Lee presented me with an amazing gift: She created a Tie-Dye T-Shirt commemorating my hike. The skill of capturing mountain peaks, trees, lakes and terrain are just amazing. Thank you so much for this treasured gift Lisa!
In 2018, Liz drove me up to Lake Tahoe and started climbing Mt Tallac with me before heading back home. She then drove up to spend a weekend with me in Dunsmuir where we played board games and did some sightseeing.
Alice and Rob Diefenbach picked me up near Ashland, OR and drove me all over to buy food and send resupply packages out. They also hosted me an extra week to try and help my shin splints heal, but alas, it was not to be. They then couriered me to the airport to return me home.
This year, Alice and Rob once again took me in and delivered me to the trailhead.
Mike Hobbs picked me up at Snoqualmie, housed me and showed me around Seattle. He helped me get to and from my niece’s wedding in Anacortes and then returned me to the trail.
René and Jack Hulbert met me in Skykomish, fed me an awesome lunch, took me sightseeing and delivered me back to Stevens Pass. Kit took me in Vancouver and delivered me to my train home.
To all of you, and to all the friendly Trail Angels, hikers, and just nice people I met along the way, and to all you blog and Facebook readers that viewed, read, commented or liked my ramblings, I cannot thank you enough for all your help! You are all as much a part of my adventure as the trail was. I am in debt to each and every one of you! Especially you, Liz!
Duck has left the trail!
Thanks for reading!