The Pacific Crest Trail
When Jim and I finished hiking the Continental Divide Trail, we were sad to see the Mexican border, unwilling to see the journey end. It had been a difficult journey, but a happy one. We loved the land and we loved the long distance hiking life. We thought about just turning around and heading north, but we knew that winter would take much of the pleasure out of the hike, and that sooner or later we would be stopped by snow and cold. Reluctantly, we went home to Maryland.
But memories of the trail went with us, and dreams of other trails. We knew that somehow, someday we would return to the life we loved. We also remembered the adage, “so many trails, so little time.” We realized that if we went back to Maryland, got new jobs, found a new home, and reestablished our lives, it might be years before it would be possible to break away again. Doing a long distance hike is a major disruption in a hiker’s life; there is so much that needs to be done in order to leave for six months. We knew we wouldn’t be in a hurry to go through all the effort that is involved. Right then, in December of 1999, everything we owned was still in storage, our mail was still being held for us, we had no responsibilities, no jobs, no home -- we were as free as it was possible to be. Since we had delayed our CDT departure a year because of Jim’s job, we had extra money in our savings, enough to pay for another long hike, if we weren’t too extravagant. Furthermore, snow levels in the southern Sierras were reported to be well below normal, while the rest of the Pacific Crest Trail reported more or less normal snowfall. It was the perfect time to do the PCT. We considered going back to the Continental Divide Trail--there was still a lot to explore in that part of the world--but we had seen photos and heard stories of the PCT from friends who had hiked that trail, and we decided to go see for ourselves if it was all they claimed. They said it was difficult; they said it was beautiful. They were right. Still, it was also very different from what we expected, in a lot of ways. Or maybe we were different from what we expected.