Mexico, Canada, Every Inch In Between

Hey wait a minute….. I’ve been here before! Donner Pass undoubtedly has an infamous culinary history, and yesterday two hikers added to it in another unique way while drinking champagne out of their dirty, beat-up trail runners. For the last 137 days everything I’ve ate has had a healthy coating of trail spice (dirt), so I’m not too worried about a little bit of foot funk. It’s time to celebrate.

2655 Miles

(alight technically I didn’t follow the red line for every inch of trail and thus I’m not sure on my actual milage, but it’s reasonably close if not more. When there was an option for an alternate that I believed would provide a better experience than the technical PCT I opted to take that route, but I still maintained a connected footpath)

In a year of immense difficulties for hikers I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate to be among the very few who will be able to connect a continuous footpath on the PCT this year. It didn’t happen in the way I imagined, and a medical emergency forced Waffles and I to flip out of the Sierra in late May, but that may have been our saving grace.

If not for our flip to Truckee we would have been burned out up North. It couldn’t have been closer, the day I hit the Canadian Border the first sections of trail in Washington began to close. From the moment I began planning my PCT hike fire had been my biggest fear, and my largest motivation not to put the hike off. Every year more and more of the trail burns and pristine forests become barren scars.

Soon it will become impossible to hike this trail in any conventional sense, every year fewer and fewer hikers are able to connect their footsteps and more of the trail becomes irreparably damaged. It’s heartbreaking to see so many of my friends, including those who pushed North through the Sierra while so many others flipped, have their dreams crushed by these disasters. It’s not a hiker problem, it’s not a local problem, it’s not a political problem. It’s a crisis.


People ask me nearly daily how the PCT has compared to the AT, and I never feel like I can give them a satisfactory answer without making the Appalachian Trail sound awful (which to be very very clear, it is not). I have absolutely loved them both.

The PCT is unquestionably easier terrain (when it’s not covered in snow) and a much more favorable work/reward ratio when it comes to beautiful views and sweeping vistas. Even in a historically wet year I only encountered “real” rain a handful of times (as opposed to weeks and weeks of rain on the AT) and never experienced the true bone chilling, near hypothermic cold I did back east. But on the flip side the towns on the PCT are expensive and mostly suck, the food and water carry situations are much longer, and the snow and fires can make it a logistical hassle. Still, gun to my head, the PCT is the easier more beautiful more enjoyable trail.

I Really Just Need a Nap

Despite this trail being easier, the physical toll on my body has been much worse. I ache more. I’ve suffered more injuries. I wake up more tired than I went to bed. My hair growth has slowed dramatically. I’m covered in bruises from injuries I don’t remember. My body gave up trying to recover about 500 miles ago.

I lost a lot of weight on both trails, but I had a lot more to lose starting the AT at ~220lbs. I’m not a doctor by any means, but I know I’ve felt my strongest and healthiest when my weight has been between 180-190lbs (your body may be different) and although I dipped below that on the AT, I never felt as bad as I do right now. My lowest weight on the AT was ~170lbs, and as of this morning I’m weighing in at 158. I do not recognize myself in the mirror, and not in a good way. I’ve never been able to see my ribs and hips before in the way I can now, and I don’t like it. My waist is both bruised and rubbed raw by my pack’s hipbelt, which I can no longer tighten.

My largest health concern is my right foot, which (in the least dramatic way possible) I think I may have lightly fractured when I crushed it under a larger rock approximately 300 miles ago. It hurt badly in the moment and had some temporary swelling which went away within a few days, but it’s hurt with truly every step since. Obviously if I was able to hike the last few weeks on it I’m not overly concerned with it, but I’m definitely excited to give it an extended rest.


I feel compelled to acknowledge that my achievements here are not my own, and my hike would not have been anything close to what it was without the support, encouragement, and love of others.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have such supportive family and friends, all of whom checked in regularly offering words of encouragement and praise and eagerly waited for my most recent news. The hikers around me, especially Waffles, inspired me daily and encouraged me to be a better and stronger version of myself than I would have thought possible.

I once again found myself inspired by the kindness of strangers. Trail angels who give their time, money, and energy to hikers they’ve never met make me truly believe in the goodness of humanity, and anyone willing to pick up a hitchhiker (especially one who hasn’t showered in far too long) deserves more than I could ever give them.

To everyone I met along the way and to those who chose to include me in their own adventures, thank you. From the bottom of my heart.



I (obviously) don’t edit these before I post them, but I do give them a brief once over and this one feels way more depressing than it should. I promise I’m happy and reasonably healthy and had the time of my life.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 2

  • David Odell : Sep 11th

    Congratulations on finishing your PCT hike. Enjoyed your writing. David Odell. AT71 PCT72 CDT77


What Do You Think?