Day 45 – All’s Well That Ends Well

Bishop, CA to Seattle, WA

After due consideration of all factors I have decided to end my pursuit of a thru hike of the PCT this year. I am disappointed that my ambition did not pan out and you may be too. I concluded that the risk to fun ratio did not make sense any more with the huge snowpack remaining and the creeks still rising. In my best estimation, continuing would have meant cooling my heels in Bishop for at least a week maybe two while the current heat wave runs its course and the runoff begins to subside.
Perhaps then I may have been able to continue within my risk tolerance but with an already late start, finishing before the snow flies again in the North Cascades would have been improbable. Personally, making more creek crossings in peak thaw exceeded my recreational threshold.
Many others have also decided to abandon the Sierras for now and have opted to skip forward and/or hike segments north to south. For myself, I wanted to walk a continuous path south to north and the idea of piecing it all together some other way does not appeal. Call me a purist but also call me now a section hiker having completed the first 800 miles or so.
I am okay with the decision and last night tried to impress upon my compatriots that discretion is the better part of valor. There were many long faces and anxious questions as people tried to decide what’s right for themselves. I imagine some dogged individuals will resume the attempt and I wish them safety and well being.
After coming to my decision the problem became how best to get home. Rental cars in Bishop were all booked two weeks out and the bus to Reno only runs once a day at 7:30am. Using some of what I’ve learned about the kindness of strangers, I made a sign and attempted to hitch a 3.5 hour ride to Reno.

Creative no?

 

The universe soon provided in the form of Frank and Luna, a young couple from San Diego, who graciously thought to lend a hand to a scruffy stranger on the side of the road. They were headed to Reno/Tahoe for a weekend of snowboarding and other fun. Snowboarding in June is a another good indicator that plenty of snow persists. I enjoyed getting to know them both and am super thankful for be invited to join their 9+ hour road trip from San Diego to Reno. As we drove north on Highway 395, impressive amounts of water had gathered in the lowlands fed by overflowing rivers. We even passed two hikers who concluded that a 150 mile highway walk was their solution to the runoff problem. Um, no thanks.
We arrived in Reno and went to a place Frank had worked in college for some food and drink. Lest you ever doubt the power of good karma, both he and I won $250 in a span of minutes at the bar top poker machines. Woohoo!

Karma baby

It was a happy parting and I enlisted Uber once again to get to the Reno airport and figure out a flight home. I was able to finagle a two hop flight home through Portland at the last minute.
I am truly grateful for your support and am sorry that I couldn’t take you all the way to Canada. I hope you can be happy knowing that while not by the route I had imagined, I did indeed walk and have found my way home.
I’ll write again to capture for myself if no one else the things I learned from being on trail 40+ days. For now, my wish for you reading this is that you also pursue whatever calls to you from deep within and find nourishment in whatever results.
I am blessed. I am happy. I am home.

 

19 Replies to “Day 45 – All’s Well That Ends Well”

  1. So sorry for not commenting sooner – I have been so enjoying your journey and the beautiful pictures. Glad you made it home safely but I will sure miss your nightly emails! I had grown to depend on them. They were all so informative and I learned so much about the trail … except maybe that part about a certain boy from your childhood being a saint .. hmmm .. not so sure 🙂 But he has rescued me a time or two while I was in distant lands so I can almost believe it.
    I hope you get back on the trail to finish your journey. Enjoy the nice Northwest weather and soft pillow tonight … you deserve it! T

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  2. Amen! It had to be a very difficult decision given the resolve you built and trials you endured, and this one is the ultimate… you did walk your way home!
    Know that you are invited to join us in Section J in August if you are up for it. It would be an honor.

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  3. I have enjoyed reading of your trip thus far, and will guess from what I have learned about you that this will not be your only time on the PCT. Sorry that you didn’t make it to northern Oregon, though. I had planned to be a trail angel and bring something delicious and heavy to the trail. Thank you for sharing your adventure and pictures!

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  4. Your adventure has been an adventure for all your readers. Your way with words is a gift. Maybe your next adventure is writing a novel. I would buy it for sure. Welcome home!

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  5. Being swept away in a cold river in a remote place kind of defeats all purposes. Wise and experienced move to push the pause button. I cant wait to connect again soon and hear more about it. Take care. Joel

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    1. One of the great and unexpected joys of this trip was reconnecting with many long lost friends yourself included. We have lots of notes to compare on what’s ahead and I will be touch. Cheers!

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  6. Welcome home, Apple-Jack! The fun-to-risk ratio is important and those raging rivers have swept more than one hiker away already this season. I realize you are a PCT purist but now you are set up beautifully for a SB attempt (maybe in a lighter snow year) to complete the trail while travelling through the stunning Washington sections at a more sunny and dry time of year.

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    1. That’s a great way to think about it Beth, thanks. I can for sure see returning to the JMT for a SB jaunt back through that spectacular landscape at some point.

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  7. Apple Jack, Silver Fox here. It was a real pleasure meeting you on trail and getting to know you in town. Your rationale for leaving the trail overlaps mine perfectly and I hope you are as much at comfort with the decision as I am.

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    1. SilverFox! The pleasure was all mine and my time on the trail was richer for having met you. Be well and hope to see you again further down the road.

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  8. An amazing trek and thanks for giving us the opportunity to participate in your journey. I’m sure that it is a bit disappointing to not finish as you started, but few have done what your were able to do and you should be proud of that accomplishment. Congratulations on the journey and I can’t wait to hear more about it in person.

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  9. Welcome home John and thanks for sharing the trip – nice to read about your adventures. These decisions are the harder ones, glad you took a decision. Climb on!

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    1. Thanks Peter! To paraphrase Ed Visteurs, ‘the summit is optional, getting down is imperative’. Best of luck with your adventures this summer and let me know how to hear about them.

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