Summer 2003 Trek on the Pacific Crest Trail
Thousand Mile Summer
I just returned from a “thousand mile summer” of backpacking on the Pacific Crest Trail—what a delightful trek! I traveled this summer with two IWU students, Mark Schmerse (Trailname “Smiles-a lot”) and Melissa Rudy (Nickname “Rudy” & trailname “Pike”) who made the trek even more fun. Here’s a summary:
We started off June 23 at Manning Park
OUR DAYS: Some ask if I get to read or write while
backpacking. Not really. If I were
camping I would—but I was hiking. Basically I walked all day, starting about each morning and walking until close to each night… from an hour before sunrise to an hour
after sunset. We’d stop a few times to
eat—once after about 6-7-8 miles, then for “lunch” in another 7-8-9 miles, then
for “dinner” after another leg of about 7 miles, then we’d walk ‘till dark and
go to sleep, usually sleeping under the starts.
Since we were hiking south we got to meet all the northbounders
who had started the PCT in
SIGHTS. We saw just about every kind of wildlife you
can imagine from bear, rattlesnakes, and deer, to herds of a hundred or more
elk at one time. The most impressive
sights were the natural creation—from
TRAIL ANGELS. “Trail angels” are people who show up as “angels unawares” to help hikers. I want to say thanks to all my trail angels--people who offered help—from a ride in the back of your pickup truck to re-supply, to those who left a cooler of drinks near the trail at an obscure crossing, to those who loaned us a change of clothes in town while we washed our only set of clothing, to those who bought us a meal, or met us with a large pizza, or invited us into your home or yard, or did special favors for us at your restaurant, gave us food, or helped in a dozen other ways—THANKS to all “Trail angels” on the PCT—if you are getting this letter then you are now on my “life list” of trail angels and you’ll be getting a postcard during every trek I ever take in the future too—I won’t forget your kindness.
MAIL ANGELS. “Mail angels” are people who send care packages or letters to the tiny mountain post offices—things like candy, beef jerky, nuts, or other stuff to eat and (perhaps just as important) letters with bits of news from home or clippings from newspapers or magazines to keep me up on the outside world. THANKS for being so generous—it was like Christmas at some post offices to get your package—and sometimes several “Mail Angels” sent things to a post office so the three of us shared your gifts—and thus thought of you every day on the trail as we ate your gifts! Thanks again—you participated in this trek. Again, if you are receiving this you are now on my “life list” of the wonderful “Mail angels” and you’ll hear from me again.
NOW, BACK TO REAL LIFE. Now we return to what we call “normal” life—as a college professor, grad school student/coach and undergrad student. All three of us are experiencing “intercultural re-entry” as we watch people rush here and there and face far more complex decisions to make than “Shall I take 1 or 2 liters of water at this spring?” It feels like I’ve grabbed a train passing at 50 mph and am being jerked into “real life.” But that just reminds me how much I needed this trek—it gave me a chance to totally wind down and empty out—sort of like doing a complete mental reboot. Now I’m refreshed and ready to wind up tight again. Beside that, I’m in the best physical shape since I was 26 years old and did the last 1000+ mile hike with Sharon on the Appalachian Trail. I had to go yesterday out and buy all new smaller clothes! Thanks again for your part in this or a past hike.
Mark Schmerse, Melissa Ruder, Keith Drury at Mt Hood
If you have a fast connection and want to see more pictures click here.