Sunday 24 September 2017

On this day 35 years ago I finished my Pacific Crest Trail hike

Monument 78 in the rain, September 24, 1982
In recent days I've seen many pictures of people finishing the Pacific Crest Trail at Monument 78, which marks the border with Canada, and which has been enlarged since I was there as the PCT has grown in popularity. There'll be more pictures to come as this year's hikers complete the trail before the snows of next winter set in. I can share the feelings of those finishing even though it's 35 years since I reached the Monument. It was pouring with rain back then and no-one else was there. I don't have a picture of myself, just this one of my pack. No-one was to know I'd finished for several days. And few people saw any of my pictures for quite a while either in those pre-Internet, pre-digital days. But the satisfaction of completing a big adventure was just the same as it is today.

My journal is full of notes about what was to happen next. Where I'd stay, getting to Vancouver and so on. The only comment about finishing says 'fact that it's over hasn't registered yet and probably won't until I reach Vancouver or even London'. I also noted that it was 'an excellent way to spend six months'. It would be many years before I realised just how significant the walk had been.

Autumn colours at one of my last camps
The slow winding down of the walk had been going on for many days though, my mind jumping to life beyond the trail for the first time since I'd left Mexico almost six months earlier. The seasons were changing too. The mountains shone with autumn colours and a few times in the last weeks snow fell, a reminder that winter was coming and soon the trail would be buried deep. Finishing in the autumn after starting in the spring and walking through the summer felt appropriate. Nature was winding down too.

Snow on the trail
You can read the full story of my PCT adventure in my book Rattlesnakes and Bald Eagles.

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