I had been dreaming of thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) for the last 6 years. I postponed it twice. Once to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (AT) in 2001. And again to spend five months visiting 25 countries in Eastern Europe in 2004. By 2006 I couldn't wait any longer, so I completed the dream and I have a few lousy photos to prove it.
I had never set foot on the PCT and I had seen few pictures of it before I started. In fact, I barely looked at the maps. I wanted every step to be unique and new. However, I got lost so many times in Washington that I started to doubt the benefits of this "go-into-it-blind" strategy.
But we eventually got out of the snow of Washington, enjoyed the friendly mosquitoes of Oregon, and the wacky folks in California.
Ultimately Maiu Reismann and I made it to the Mexican border. The 2,650 mile backpacking trip took under four months - June 23 to October 21. Glen Van Peski, the founder of Gossamer Gear, had hiked with us a week before and he generously met us at the border. He took more pictures of us than a photographer takes for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.
When I arrived at the Mexican border I was overrun by emotion. It's really moving to see Mexicans hopping over the fence only to get gunned down by the overly zealous Minutemen.
We stood on the monument, doing silly acts that had the Border Patrol shaking their heads in dismay. I've uploaded a video of our silly behavior on the right.
The PCT was easier than AT for a few reasons:
On the other hand, for Maiu, the PCT was rough. She had never hiked far in her life. Maiu is from Estonia, a country that is less than 150 miles wide. The PCT is 2,650 miles long. The isolation, the uncertainty, and the danger of the trail tormented her throughout the journey. She never truly relaxed until she was about 150 miles from the Mexican border.
Nevertheless, she persevered with stoic bravery. Looking back, she admits that she had more fun than working in an office. I am so proud that she is the first Estonian, male or female, to thru-hike the PCT. Never mind that she's probably the first Estonian to ever hear about the PCT.
Going southbound on the PCT is unconventional, just like going south on the AT. I wrote an article for the PCT Communicator that explains why 95% of thru-hikers hike north on the PCT. It also uncovers the unknown benefits of going south. Read about why you should go southbound on the PCT.
We ultimately reintegrated into society after taking a shower. I returned to Estonia with Maiu, but my dad's death pulled me back to San Francisco, where I have been for the last few months. I've been writing my next book (on Eastern Europe) and preparing for my next adventure: to yo-yo Continental Divide Trail!
I hope you've enjoyed my PCT journal. If you enjoy the way I write, please buy one of my books! If you don't like the way I write, then why the hell did you read all the way to here?!
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