JMT Thru-Hike: Day 0

Airport !!!!

Welp, hiker trash Andrew is back! A few hours ago I rolled up to the Austin airport in a freshly-detailed, heavily tinted Escalade (thanks for the free upgrade @Lyft !) sporting ~the look.~

#OOTD: 1 hour of sleep, ripped shorts, oldish darn toughs, newish trail runners, anxiety over unfinished to-dos, my sweet sweet melanzana, a dry fit tee, my favorite blood-stained bandana, the staple Patagonia hat, and a 40L poorly packed pack with a Talenti jar asking to fall out of the side pocket.

Thaaaat is ~the look.~

Today I return to the thru-hiker life, and I’ve recruited a new member. THE Beau Glenn and I are hiking the John Muir Trail (JMT) together over the next 3 weeks. Could I have asked for a better trail fam than my Dad? I’m a lucky dog.

John Muir Wilderness, 6/17

Mount Whitney 6/17

Quick overview:

The JMT is a 210 mile National Scenic Trail which stretches from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney. The majority overlaps the PCT (that one trail), and I had the treat of hiking the JMT in its entirety last year due to awkward resupplies and a small detour. Last Father’s Day while resupplying at VVR in the Sierra, I told my dad via poor cell service, “Some day I want to hike the JMT with you.” Fast forward a year annnnd here we are. SOBO lezgo.

The Sierra Nevada is home to enchantment and song, rivers and glaciers, enormous trees and granite peaks that glow ember at dawn. The mountains speak the language of the Divine, worshipping with inspiring confidence.

I’ve learned to drop certain guilt when talking about my time in the Range, with worries of overusing “last year in the Sierra” and “yo look at this photo.” Even with time, I find it difficult not to talk about (many poets, explorers, authors, and fellow thru-hikers can relate).

Mather Pass 6/17

Yesterday I was chatting with some new friends about macro vs. micro adventures. While both are needed in their own life, the macroadventure trips that breach comfort zones and sharpen new skills are. my. jam. These experiences demand vulnerability and humility, while serving as a catalyst for self-confidence and personal growth.

In microadventures (trips close to home) community is typically championed via s’mores, card games, cast-iron feasts, and belly-laughter. They’re needed, underused, and so simple! Grab a friend, book a campsite, and sleep outdoors. Easypeasylemonsqueezy.

Anyway- when the community of microadventures is paired with the breached comfort zone of the macro, magic happens. This is life-transformation. This is my experience while thru-hiking.

Forester Pass 6/17

I’m giddy to return to the Sierra and to retrace some of the most meaningful footsteps I’ve walked. More than that, I’m so stoked to share these moments (new and old) with my dad. I am blown away. Woo boy.

As always, thanks for following along, and I apologize for the inconsistent shambly narrative through this post. Nothing new, but I’m blaming this one on 1 hour of sleep and distracting aerial views of the Rockies and Sierra. 😋

Until next post!

AG / Peanut

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Post-Trail: 148 days.

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The Trek Continues.

Hey friends, long time no post!

This week I’m writing because Wednesday marked a special milestone. I’ve officially been off trail longer than I was on trail- 148 days. I originally thought I would have this post ready to launch on Wednesday, but there was just a whole lot more than I anticipated tackling. So, let’s jump to it.

Those close to me know the transition from the PCT to traditional life has been the most challenging season of my life so far. It has tested me in ways I never anticipated, challenging my identity, worldview, aspirations, and mental health. Continuing an analogy I used throughout this blog while on trail, I’m slowly becoming a muggle, losing magical powers of confidence, self-acceptance, pride, humility, and unabridged community.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let’s talk about the initial transition. Leaving Washington, I cried on the plane as I flew around Rainier, over Goat Rocks Wilderness, and away from the strip of dirt I called home for 5 months. I was already homesick, but I had a lot of uncertainty ahead — that was exciting! Plus, I was fueled by the accomplishment and relief of finishing. And I just really could not wait for queso. 5 months without queso is too long.

In the first few weeks, I was held up by things a bit more tangible- I couldn’t sleep in a bed, my hiker hunger persisted (while my metabolism slowed), and I no longer properly fit in my muggle clothes. I was a little angsty + discontented, but things were alright. However, as those things shook out, I recognized my heart and mind’s refusal to acclimate to my new environment.

I did not (and currently do not) know how to talk about the trail in a way that doesn’t make it sound like another Andrew adventure, or a backpacking trip with friends. My grace was at an all-time low, depleted by questions like “How was it!?” and “What was your favorite part?” Slowly, my experiences with the Divine + unmatched landscapes were beginning to live in spaces they didn’t belong- in language, quick conversations, and lazy check-box styled questions. This was my first time experiencing culture shock to this degree, and I had no idea how lonely it is. Walking into public spaces, I felt like I was carrying a secret. I was also finally addressing the reality of knowing a PCT hiker who drowned in the Sierra, a few weeks after expressing her inability to swim to me. It was a lot. And sure, I saw an option to choose a mask of comfort + cheap familiarity, but Something Bigger (ahem, @God) kept me choosing discomfort and authenticity with self. It blew.

Being back, the challenges exist in a space with no set terminus. In the desert, I had the promise of cold, plentiful, clear water in the Sierra. In the Sierra, I knew the challenges of snow + high water were short term, while wildfires in Oregon and Washington were navigable with flexibility.

Depression, on the other hand, is an uncertain, looming system that has no guarantee of lifting. It’s scary, and honestly just makes doing things very annoying. It’s similar to an indeterminate # of miles through slushy suncups- it immobilizes and handicaps your ability to look forward. Without care, current conditions absorb and capture every strain of energy. It’s weird.

This is where the crew comes in. I’ve said it before (I hope), there is nothing like the hiker community. While Facebook forums host the staple jackasses, those I met on trail have had each other’s backs like nobody’s business. The conversations born through post-trail blues have been some of my favorites yet, riddled with patience, understanding, grace, and support. Lady, Olaf, and I talk every day, while our family group text is always buzzing. Last weekend I got to hang out with G.Q. (Evan) for the first time since Yosemite, and a few weeks ago I was able to hit the slopes with Otter. We’re all going through the same thing, and while it looks different in each of our lives, we all come from a place of humility and fierce love for each other. That’s community.

It’s been nearly 5 months since reaching the Canada, and I still feel like it was just yesterday. Lady, Olaf, and I talk about this often. We’ve all had our fair amount of experiences (we’re adventurers, dammit!), but nothing has shaken us like the PCT. Certain smells + foods will take me back to a certain spot on trail. If I drink water too fast or walk more than 5 consecutive minutes, it is a complete visceral flashback to the hike. I’m transported back in time. I’m sure there’s some science connected to muscle memory and brain chemicals (“brain chemicals” – nice), but I prefer to view it as a treat from God. As time passes quickly, this is His way of reminding me how arbitrary time is. Maybe it’s not as cruel as I imagine it to be. On the same note, how the heck am I supposed to find satisfaction in Austin while being transported back to a place I call home? It’s all very confusing. Thru-hiking will mess you up.

I do want to talk about gratitude for a second. I recently discovered I made gratitude and complacency synonymous in my mind. Pulling a move from A-Ham, I’m rarely satisfied. There’s something more, something I can be better at. That’s my 3 coming out, and it’s brutal.

BUT.

There’s so much room for gratitude. I’m so grateful for this time for hardship and growth. I’m grateful for any surface-level conversation I have about trail, because it opens the doors to talk about the magnitude of our Maker’s creativity, the importance of time spent outside, and the value of approaching community without an agenda.

Yes, I am mourning the end of my PCT thru-hike. There have been many tears shed, and I’m sad I won’t be able to recreate some moments and experiences. I’m sad that our culture doesn’t care too much about Wilderness. I’m sad I spend almost my entire day inside, when I used to only see the indoors every week or so. But I’m grateful for the unease, prayerful it sticks around. I’m also grateful for a passionate love for the outdoors, and for my growing piece of hope that things can change.

I feel like I’m missing 100,000,001 things in this update, but that is nothing new- there are feelings and heartaches that exist beyond words. And I’m grateful for that.

Until next time,

P.

Ps- As scrappy personal update, I’m currently back in Austin, Texas! I am the Creative + Marketing lead over at Kammok, promoting badass outdoor gear and trying to camping at least once/week. Three weeks ago I broke my collarbone in a skiing accident, so it’s temporarily limited outdoor recreation.

I recently scored two permits for the JMT, so I’ll be headed back to the Sierra with my dad in June headed SOBO from Yosemite. I couldn’t be more stoked. With another thru-hike on the Calendar, weekly therapy, and immediate access to queso, I’ve been able to take care of the ol’ brain. Things are good. I feel loved by our Creator, and that’s the hope I need. Thanks for reading, pals.

Days 138 to 147: Stevens Pass (Mi. 2461.7) to CANADA (Mi. 2650.1)

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This it it you guys! The last blog post of my journey on the Pacific Crest Trail.

I speak more on this later in this post, but endless thank yous for following along and making this journey bigger than myself. This trip was hands-down the best experience of my life, and I’m already struggling to find the right words to do the trail justice. I’m coming to terms that I won’t be able to do that- and maybe that’s okay.

Anyway… enjoy, friends. ❤  

 

Day 138: Stevens Pass (Mi. 2461.7) to Lake Valhalla (Mi. 2467.2)

 

Annnnnnd today I headed out into the final days of my journey on the Pacific Crest Trail. The stretch from Stevens Pass to the Canada Border is a receptionless segment of the trail’s best vistas, unpredictable weather, and sweetest moments. I am READY!

After a quick resupply in Wenatchee and a stay at Wasabi’s parents home, we scooted back to Stevens Pass for just a quick 6 miles to camp. It was flat and fairly uneventful, but I was able to chat with my old college roommate Grant for one of the first times on trail. I also called my mom and dad for the last times. It was a surreal feeling know that the next time I speak to them I will either be…

a) A completed Pacific Crest Trail thru-hiker

b) Injured

Either way, what an adventure!

 

Day 139:  Lake Valhalla (Mi. 2467.2) to Mi. 2489.6



Today I stepped in real life human shit. Barefoot. It was one of the worst experiences ever and I don’t wish it upon my worst enemy. Good gracious. 

Obvi, that was my low for the day. Buuuut that’s pretty much the only low! The rest of the day was fantastic, with lots of elevation change, a midday swim in an alpine lake with my donut float, and camping early at a BEAUTIFUL exposed grass shelf with Otter, Baby Carrots, Wasabi, and Unger. Happy happy.

Day 140:  Mi. 2489.6 to Mi. 2513.2


Ooooo goodness today was EXCELLENT.

^ Are you getting tired of those intros? I’m not.

This morning I hauled. Not sure what *exactly* spurred me to hike so fast this morning, but I’m not too upset about it. Most of the gang camped at Lake Sally Ann last night, which was about a mile past our little exposed shelf. We caught up to them as they were packing up camp, and this moment really stuck a cord in my heart.

For the past 4.5 months, I’ve had to treasure to wake up in pristine wilderness, pack all of my belongings onto my back, and hike with some of my favorite people on earth. If I camp by myself, I’m bound to run into some within a few hours. We only have a few days left of this magic. Soaking it up as much as I can!! 

My speedy pace this morning landed me about an hour ahead of the group, so I used that lead to read and nap at Reflection Pond around Mile 2498. There, the group caught up to me and we hiked the next 2 miles to 2500 together. This milestone felt pretty significant! 2500 miles! What?!?! That’s the proclaimers times five. Or 2.5 Vanessa Carltons. Pretty nuts, you guys.

I pushed off from 2500 a little early and wiggled into a nook in a tree about a mile later. A second nap happened, and there were absolutely zero regrets about it. It made the rest of the day a litttttle tricky to catch up with the rest of the group, but it was perfectly alright. The trail dropped about 2700’ and back up again 2000’. On the climb out of the valley, the clouds and sun did a beautiful dance that made the sky look like it was on fire.

At camp, we ran into Dorian, Drum Solo, and Hitch. Hitch, who I haven’t seen in 2300 miles, is the other girl who named me Peanut!!! It was an epic reunion. After scouting out a good tent site, Lady, Olaf, and I scooted wayyyyy up into the trees and found a tiny flat spot where we jigsawed our tents together. I love these two so, so deeply. They’re my people.

 

Day 141: Mi. 2513.2 to Suiattle River (Mi. 2538.1)


Oh geez my legs are sore!! Today’s elevation loss/gain was pretty gnarly, but man oh man were the views to die for. 

The morning started out colder, brisker than usual. While I began hiking in just a short sleeve shirt and gloves, I definitely didn’t get the usual warmness that comes with elevation gain.

Around 5 miles in, we passed the famous Mica Lake. Well, it’s sort of just popular. We heard rumors of it being the most beautiful lake on the PCT, but prepared ourselves for just another really cool alpine lake.

Yeah, Mica Lake was too freaking notch. The entire time I just imagined how much my former boss, Mica, would enjoy this crystal blue, shimmery lake. You could see the bottom of the lake from every angle, and it all just seemed surreal.

This when I dropped my pack and made a quick decision. I know it’s only 9am and it’s complete glacier melt, I’m going swimming. With this, I inflated my donut pool float and hit the shore. The group began to arrive, asking if I was really going to swim.

Heck yeah!! I removed my hiking clothes, jumped in, and paddled all around with my float. I even scurried out to where then sun hits the water, and felt completely relaxed. An undeserved gift from above.

One by one, the rest of the crew descended on Mica Lake, convincing each other to jump in and swim around. Soon, we had 12 hikers paddling around the lake, freezing their tushes off.

This has gotta be one of my all-time favorite PCT memories. Seeing the whole gang jump in together. First, Wasabi and Unger, quickly followed by Karaoke, Olaf, Lady, A-Team, Bamboo, and Flicker. Finally, Otter and Baby Carrots made a splash. Good freaking times.

The rest of the day was pretty “meh,” with lonnnnng switchbacks by the dozen up extremely tall hills. The views were incredible, but damn…. they wore me out- I’m exhausted! Looking forward to an easier day tomorrow.

I hiked the majority of today by myself, something a lot of us are choosing to do in order to properly digest the finale of this journey. Canada is just around the corner, and I don’t think any of us are prepared to go home. I’m honestly wishing for just a few hundred more miles.

Oh!! Today at lunch Olaf ate her white rice with the bottom-of-the-bag sour patch sugar added in. On purpose. She had me try it and I involuntarily spewed it everywhere. It was DISgusting, but I admire her creativity. 

 

Day 142: Suiattle River (Mi. 2538.1) to Mi. 2564.3


Yeah. So. There’s apparently a snowstorm coming in on Sunday and sticking around the rest of the week. Hahahahah PCT 2017, man.

Anyway- today was alright. We basically just had one giiiiiant hill, up and over. It was pretty much canopied the entire time, so views were limited. We also decided to tack on a few extra miles to the day in order to catch the first shuttle into Stehekin tomorrow. I was originally against the idea, but this means more time at the crazy famous Stehekin Bakery tomorrow…. and I’m ALL about that life.

At camp tonight, we had a huge group of us gathered around in a circle with our tents. Guthooks (my PCT iPhone app) has a comment on this area as “The Hilton of Campsites.” I wouldn’t go *that* far, but it’s pretty dang nice and roomy. Plus, it sets up for the shuttle tomorrow! Boo yeah! 

Day 143: Mi. 2564.3 to Stehekin (Mi. 2569.4)



Oh sweet Stehekin, you have my heart.

This morning we made the quick 5-mile hike to our final National Park- North Cascades!!! When we arrived in the Park, the salmon were spawning in Agnes Creek, which was so. freaking. cool. Icey blue water with fiery orange salmon dancing around. What a beautiful scene (that I failed to take a picture of). This is something I’m noticing- taking pictures isn’t at the top of my mind anymore. Until now, if I failed to take a picture, it was because I was too lazy or tired to get out the camera. Now, it’s because I’m so captivated and consumed in the moment. Taking out a clunky, digital device yanks me out of the magic of the moment and it’s no longer a priority. This trail is evolving my relationships with all the things I used to prize so much. I like it.

Our shuttle group into Stehekin was absurd. Probably two dozen hikers that we’ve been bounced around for weeks has compressed into this 9:15 shuttle to the remote, unincorporated community of Stehekin.

Let’s talk about Stehekin for a second. We are in the middle of a 10 day stretch without service. This town is no exception! Stehekin, located on the end of Lake Chelan has 75 total residents. And guess what- you can’t drive to it!! There are a few roads in the town, but all the vehicles have been barged there. Literally the only way to get to Stehekin is by horseback, hiking, or by ferry on Lake Chelan. The town has a bakery, a post office, and a small country lodge. The bakery (ohhhh the bakery) is run by beautiful, tatted millennials and the lodge is country themed with dirt floors. What?! This place is MAGIC and the sweetest escape. 

The shuttle dropped us off at the bakery, and we spent a pretty lengthy amount of time shoving our faces with the world’s best pastries (seriously- not just hiker hunger. these were mind blowing). After, we walked .2 miles to Wasabi’s grandmother’s cabin right on Lake Chelan. Wasabi’s hookups have made Washington even more special.

I spent almost the entire day laying in the grass at the cabin on the shore of Lake Chelan, reading a paperback copy of The Alchemist I picked up in the community library (a small little shed), and feeling all the weight of just 90 miles left of the Pacific Crest Trail. Woo boy.

For dinner, Wasabi’s grandmother treated us to a fantastic buffet dinner at the local lodge. It was the biggest treat and 10000% made me feel even more spoiled. Today I hiked into one our Nation’s most incredible Parks, ate at the World’s Best Bakery, spent the day reading next to a crystal-clear lake, and then treated to a BBQ buffet. I do not deserve this.

Tonight I’m exhausted. Physically, mentally, and spiritually. Full transparency- there’s been a little bit of conflict on trail that made me aware of my frustration with the church. It is so easy for us to get caught up in little things and completely misrepresent what Jesus is all about!! I think that’s where Evil likes to dance. In the details. In pride, entitlement, and laziness. Our tunnel vision distracts us from the bigger picture of love, grace, and undeserved sacrifice. A lot of thoughts on this topic- but MAN I’m pooped. It’s time to sleep.

Day 144: Stehekin (Mi. 2569.4) to Rainey Pass (2588.9)



Big day big day! 

Did we go to the Bakery for a third time in 24 hours? Yes, yes we did. And I snagged a fresh Pesto Swiss Mushroom croissant and oh my goodness. The amount of expletives I said after biting into this pastry was a little alarming. This might have been the best thing I’ve ever eaten ever. Wow.

Let me lay out where we’re at leaving Stekehin. We are 80.6 miles from the Canadian Border (what!?) with another 9 miles after that to get to Canada’s Manning Provincial Park, where we’re getting picked up.

The snow comes tomorrow (Sunday), and we’re trying to finish by roll into Manning Park Tuesday afternoon. Otter and Baby Carrots are about a 3/4 day ahead, and we reeeaalllly want to finish by them. Let’s do it! The hill out of Stehekin isn’t that fun. While it’s gradual, it is 25 miles long. Woof. 

We rolled into Rainey Pass a few hours before dark and Wasabi’s dad and friend were waiting with some beautiful pizza trail magic. We chatted, caught up from the last time we saw them, and planned to hike just up the trail. Unfortunately, we only hike .1 miles before running into MORE trail magic hosted by the PCT Washington Singles Society (or something like that). They served us hot chocolate and promised us a pancake breakfast in the morning, so we stuck around. 

Before bed, I read an excerpt of The Little Prince to Wasabi and Unger before snuggling right in between Lady and Olaf. This is our last night cowboy camping on trail, and I will absolutely miss this. We were basically able to have a sleepover nearly every night on trail. I miss it already.

Day 145: Rainey Pass (2588.9) to Mi 2613.8


This morning I had a bit of a late start (6:40, eyo!) and visited the trail angels from last night for some final magic before Canada- pancakes!! These are the last non-PCT folks we’ll see until we complete the trail, which is pretty strange. Bye, muggles!!

Today it really, really hit- it’s officially ending. The snow has come and it’s time to wrap this party up. I spend most of the day reflecting on the past few months, and thanking the Lord for such a wonderful journey. There are no words. Gah, I’m an emotional mess right now. Yayyy.

At camp, it was just Peanut and the Pink Ladies (Wasabi, Olaf, and Lady). I couldn’t have asked for a better second-to-last-night of camping. We’re staying up way too late airdropping all the photos, reflecting on memories, and eating ourselves silly. It’s also ridiculously cold. 

I am just so thankful. I do not want this to end, but I am so excited to complete this journey. I just wish I could complete it and continue it all at once. Booooo!

Alright, last full day tomorrow. Let’s do it!

It’s 2:05am and I just leaned outside my tent to pee. Looks like winter came early this year! There’s probably a half inch? of snow on the ground. Hahahaha, 2017. Check-mate. 

Day 146: Mi 2613.8 to Woody Pass (Mi. 2638.8)


We are currently camped just 11.2 miles away from the PCT Northern Terminus- the Canadian Border. I am overwhelmed with gratitude, excitement, and a bit of sorrow to see this journey come to a close. Tomorrow morning I will cross into Canada, earning the title of PCT Thru-Hiker (Class of ’17)!

We chose a pretty fantastic year to hike the trail. Nicknamed “the year of fire and ice,” 2017 brought its fare share of wonder and hardships.

The desert brought the Superbloom. The Sierra gave us record-shattering snowfall, incredible vistas, and unnerving snowmelt, where we lost friends to dangerous creek and river crossings. In Northern California we experienced record heat, while in Oregon we viewed the eclipse at near-totality and dodged devastating wildfires. The logistical nightmare of wildfires continued through Washington, the land of magic and dreams. In our final state, we summited volcanos, ate our hearts out at bakeries, swam in lakes, and enjoyed an incredibly remote 10 day stretch through the North Cascades- the final days being… wait for it… in snow. Fire and ice.

I joined a trail family around 1250 miles ago and DANG it’s good to have these friends. While there’s hardship, hurt feelings, and tough conversations with any family- these 7 have brought me so much life. Tonight we lie 8 tents deep in a 2 tent campsite, airdropping photos left and right, laughing our heads off, and ~naturally~ eating ourselves to max capacity.

All of this feels so good. An end of a journey. Tonight someone asked a question of “do you feel any different?”

This question surprised me, so I’ve been spending time thinking about it. Annnnd I don’t think I feel any different. This is what I can parallel it to-

Remember how on your birthday folks generally, sometimes comically, ask you if you feel older? I almost always never do, but it doesn’t mean the growth isn’t there. It’s subtle, and reveals itself through time in different scenarios. 

I think that’s what the PCT will be for me. I didn’t reaaaally come out here for a life change or “to find myself.” An incredible, transparent family and a few years living solo has helped with that discovery in identity.

However, the trail has brought confidence. I’m now able to look at an obstacle, find a different angle to view it from, and tackle it. All in. Just like the “impassable” aSierra, some things are designed to teach endurance, reflect grace, and spark wonder. 

These 145 days have also brought healing. While forgiveness and friendship had been dealt, I realized there were still some unaddressed wounds from years back that still whispered lies against my makeup and the man I was created me to be. Pressing into the discomfort of these wounds wasn’t fun, but I’d say it was pretty necessary for growth. 

My trail family has taught me a LOT. We routinely ditched our clothes to swim in aline lakes. We laughed until we cried, oooooo’ed at the beauty surrounding, and ate an absurd amount of berries together. Conflict came, and we faced it like any PCT challenge- with patience, grace, and endurance. Thanks, fam.

This hike has hardly felt my own- the unreal support from friends, family, and strangers has made the trail feel more like a relay than anything. There are several stories of people relating to my -somewhat silly- allegorical stories in raw ways, which brings a wave of warmth and encouragement. The social grapevine weaved its way, and I’ve been introduced to countless friends of friends that have been inspired by the nature of the trail and expanding capacity to chase dreams. Thank you, thank you, y’all. 

Tomorrow (okay, technically today… #4am) I’ll finish my hike from Mexico to Canada. Thanks for joining in on the journey, friends. I’m a blessed guy.

Today’s update: couldn’t have asked for a better last full day! Wasabi, Lady, Olaf, and I stayed in our snow-covered tents until 7:30a, and then hit the trail. Accented with a dusting of white, the mountains lit up with glory… which made the hike pretty slow going at first- too many photo opps!

We crossed over multiple passes, including Harts and Rock. I was lucky enough to have some killer conversations with Wasabi, Lady, and Olaf throughout the day. Canada was definitely on the forefront of the mind the entire 25 miles. Even the snow + ice can’t dilute our excitement. In fact, it probably adds to it!

With 8 tents in a tiny site, several inches of snow on the ground, and 11.2 miles to go, it all feels pretty dreamy. Happy (cold) (emotional) camper right here.

 

Day 147: Woody Pass (Mi. 2638.8) to CANADA!!!!! (Mi 2658.9)


 

Welp, we did it friends. This morning, September 19th, at 11:48am I hiked across the Canada Border, completing my thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail.

On April 25th at 6:45am I shoved off from the Mexico Border, completely unaware of how much this Trail would capture my heart. The ever-changing terrain, indescribable community, physical challenge, bone-chilling vistas, and spiritual growth all contributed to the best 5 months of my life. It is heartbreaking to know that it’s over, but I’m confident this experience will seep into all areas of my life. 

I could not have asked for a better time at the Northern Terminus. My best friends and I celebrated each other with tears, high-fives, dancing, and hollering. In addition to the eight Suncups, Otter, Baby Carrots, DG, Pacer, Drum Solo, Dorian, Hitch, and so many others finished at the same time. My only wish is that GQ (Evan) was there too…. but he finished a bit before me, which is still so great. I’ll see him soon ;). 

In April, my prayer and desire was that this hike would be much bigger than myself. By pure the Lord’s grace and goodness, these 147 days of iPhone notes have been able to resonate with those facing life’s own climbs and valleys. Whether it be loss of a loved one, divorce/separation, financial struggles, or simply waking up, facing the day, and doing it again… I have been blown away at how this little blog has surpassed any expectations I had for it. I have learned the challenges we face in traditional society can be tackled with the same framework as the trail’s: grace, discipline, patience, love, and Nutella. 

To every single trail angel, friend, family member, and stranger that has supported me through this experience, THANK YOU. I cannot explain how much your encouragement over these months has meant. I have never felt community like this before. Adequately describing how my heart has been changed by you guys is an impossibility.

It has been an absolute joy to share this experience with you. Through these scrappy entries, you have welcomed me into your homes, around your dinner table, and in those evening bedtime reads. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Signing off,

Andrew “Peanut” Glenn

Days 131 to 137: Cispus Pass (Mi. 2267.1) to Steven’s Pass (Mi. 2461.7)


Less than 200 miles until Canada!! What?! Currently writing this post in the Lodge at Steven’s Pass. Steven’s Pass is our second-to-last resupply, and our very last bit of cell service. This means the next time you’ll hear from me I’ll *hopefully* be a graduated PCT Thru-Hiker! Woa!!!
The past few days have felt undeserved. From Goat Rocks Wilderness to the unmatched beauty of Northern Washington, this state is just showing off in so many ways. We’ve dodged fires, jumped in Lakes, crossed passes, and soaked up that Pacific Northwest mist. Life is good, and I can’t imagine this ending.


Day 131: Cispus Pass-ish (Mi. 2267.1) to White Pass (Mi. 2292.4)



GOAT ROCKS WILDERNESS IS THE COOLEST. Seriously, we’ve heard about magic of Goat Rocks from SOBOs for days and have been giddy to get here. Besides from the occasional side trail, we really haven’t had many vistas in Washington. Everything changed today.

The elevation change seemed like a non-issue, because I was googly-eyed the entire time. I caught up to Wasabi and Unger pretty early on in the day, which made the experience that much sweeter. And Wasabi’s dad was there too!! He hiked in 20 miles the day before, and was hiking the 20 out back to the trailhead with our crew. Suuuuch a great guy!

Anyway. Goat Rocks. It’s the coolest. Check out those photoz ^^.

Once we arrived at White Pass, we went to Wasabi’s dad’s friend’s cabin. This was a perfect time to regroup, develop a plan for the fires surrounding the trail, and share some laughs over a homemade dinner. Thankful!!

Also, a package of food I sent myself didn’t make it to the Pass, so all these hooligans pitched in food for me to make it to Snoqualmie. Thankful. 👍 
Day 132: White Pass (Mi. 2292.4) ) to Bumping River (Mi. 2306.1)


Washington highlights: wild blueberries!!!! I can’t get over them. Also, it’s smoky. I think these fires are getting worse. 😪

Day 133: Bumping River (Mi. 2306.1) to Snoqualmie Pass (Mi. 2394.2)


Yeah, the fires definitely got worse.

Man, closures area bummer. We prepared to hike 15 miles today then skip around the closed 23 miles section, from Chinook Pass to Government Meadow. Unfortunately, when we rolled up to Chinook, that’s when all plans went to 💩.

But let’s back up- this morning was great! We hiked through our 6th (and second to last) National Park today!! Mt. Rainier!! Definitely a bummer it’s so smoky, but it’s aight. The trees were cool.

When we arrived to the trailhead after our short hike, the rangers were closing the road. Wasabi’s dad was our designated shuttler (I told you, he’s great), and began strapping 9 backpacks to the top of his Highlander. Before pushing off- the rangers delivered more bummer news- they closed the trail from White Pass (behind us) all the way to Snoqualmie Pass (70? miles ahead).


This is a major bummer (we hate closed trail), but feel like this is a good call, because the air quality is just miserable.

This also shifts around some plans. A few of us were planning on visiting Seattle for Thursday and Friday (I was going to see my good ol’ pal and former boss, Mica)… buuut those plans are now scrapped. Boo.

Again, Wasabi’s dad is a champ and delivered a large load of smelly hikers a few hours up the road to Snoqualmie. We made a quick pit stop for lunch, and kept cruising to the overwhelming scene at Snoqualmie Pass.


The fires compressed the slinky. A few days ago, we had a lot of the thru-hikers spread across 100+ miles of trail, but after a few new fires and a couple evacs, it looks like everyone and their mom is at the Chevron in Snoqualmie.

The gas station serves as the main resupply point in town, a place where you can both send packages (that’s what I did) and buy supplemental snacks (something I also did). Because of this, the hikers in town solicit around the area, gorging on snacks and prepping for the next section of trail. Well, today there are probably 80 hikers around here. A muggle asked me if there was a convention in town.


It was so fun to see familiar faces- Otter and crew, Pandora and Freckles, Pacer, etc. etc. etc. It was an overwhelming reunion of sorts, but a weird realization that this might be one of the last times to see these folks. Tough tough.
Day 134: Snoqualmie Pass (Mi. 2394.2) to Mi. 2412.4



Sloowwwwwin it down. 😍

Y’all. Today we only did 18.2 miles and it was a DREAM. I didn’t leave camp until 8:05a, and that’s a new record. I also took several naps and still made it to camp around 6:45 or 7:00p. What?? I feel like a day hiker!

While the mile # was smaller, the elevation was no joke. There really weren’t any flat sections today, and the ups and downs were fairly steep and exposed. Also, real talk- I’m pretty dang tired of all this smoke. The wildfires are all over this section of Wilderness (the PCT is the only trail opened in this area), which makes for abstracted vistas and eye/throat irritation. We rolled into camp tonight with puffy eyes and headaches. Super healthy, yeah??

With our 20 mi/day average, we’ll hit the Northern Terminus two weeks from today. Things just got real. 

Also, 2400!!! The fact that this number exists blows my mind. Damn. 
Day 135: Mi. 2412.4 to Deer Lake (Mi. 2432.3)


Today a podcast made me cry. That was definitely a highlight for today, because DANG it makes me sad that people still don’t have access to clean water. A basic human need, neglected. Woof it kills me.

Anyway, crying while climbing a mountain is a hilarious combo.

The second half of the day was spent with Olaf trying to catch Lady. Turns out, Lady had gotten behind us, and we were just chasing down miles.

We got to Deer Lake and decided to camp at 4:45!!! What?!!!! So fun. So Washington.

It’s pretty chilly, but I think I’m going to go swim in the lake. Dang. If this lake were more easily accessible, it’d be bumpin. But it’s just ours for today. We’re undeserving!!!! 🙌
Day 136: Deer Lake (Mi. 2432.3) to Mig Lake (Mi. 2452.2)


If Northern Washington is just a series of lake hopping over scraggly peaks, I’m totally alright with this. Last night we camped at Deer Lake, this morning we passed Deep Lake, took a lunch break at Deception Lake, hiked around Glacier Lake, and camped at Mig Lake. Seriously, this is the best.

Also, guess what?! No smoke today! It was pretty baller. And though we were in clouds most of the day, the air quality was just so, so nice. Ohhhh fresh air. I love you.


You can tell that the end is nearing. We’re all pretty emotional and somewhat sensitive right now. We’re just a week and a half to the Canadian Border, and feelings are mixed. Some are super psyched to get to Canada ASAP and finish the race strong, while others of us want to take it slow, allowing time for debrief and day digestion. Either way, we’re all feeling the feels.

Lady had a great comment about this earlier. She talked about how she’s worried this will feel like a dream- a dimmer, distant memory. We’ve all agreed that we feel this way about the Sierra. We almost shrug it off as no big deal, in turn insulting ourselves and discrediting our abilities. 

But there’s no way to know what I’ll be feeling a month from now. I could miss every fiber of the trail, or have given up hiking entirely 😉. So for now, I’ll just soak up as much as I can to make the memories deeper. 

Tonight we’re camped at Mig Lake after a pretty high elevation day. We were in a cloud for a lot of today, so tents are up and we’re all pretty tight to each other. The tent site is plennnnnty large to spread apart, but. This is family. We stick close.
Day 137: Mig Lake (Mi. 2452.2) to Steven’s Pass (Mi. 2461.7)


I love Washington I love Washington I love Washington I love Washington!!!!

Last night in rained a good bit, and our tents danced in the wind. A few months ago, the *flap! flap! flap!* of the crying tent would’ve kept me up all night. But now? It’s just part of the soundtrack of thru-hiking. 

This morning I woke up and lived what most people *probably* think what thru-hiking is like. I woke up to a misty, beautiful spot on a lake. Climbing out of my tent, I walked a few steps and collected water from the lake. I quickly returned to my sleeping bag, made coffee, edited photos, and read Harry Potter. We didn’t leave camp until 8:00. Ha!!! What a dream!!

This morning included a super easy 7.4 miles through misty, pretty chilly mountains. We arrived to Steven’s Pass Ski Lodge around 10:30a and have been hanging around all day!! I’ve pretty much just been prepping the blog and contacting the fam- I can’t believe this is our last bit of service until we finish!! Dang!!

Here in a few we’ll ride over to Wasabi’s parent’s house in Wenatchee, WA to rest up, do laundry, resupply, and get on our game face for the next 185? miles. Wooooooooooboy let’s do it!!!!! I can’t wait!! 

PS- I ordered a pool float for all the lakes we’ve been hitting. It *should* be waiting in Wenatchee. Cross your fingers.

Days 123-130: Cascade Locks (Mi. 2144.6) to Cispus Pass (Mi. 2267.1)


Hello hi hey what’s up!!

Y’all- Washington has been INSANELY beautiful. I can’t wait to share all the things I’ve been learning, experiencing, and seeing. We’ve already dealt with some wicked fires, classic PNW rains, and the joys of Washington’s elevation profile. 

The miles are winding down, and we’re all getting sentimental. This is going to be a tough end.

Days 123 and 124: Zeros in Portland



Hooray for a well-earned weekend off!! In case you missed the last post, The Naked Suncups (that’s my trail fam) busted our tails through NorCal and Oregon to arrive at Bridge of the Gods (Washington border) just in time to meet loved ones that came in for the weekend. Talk about giddy, because that means an entire weekend spent with my dad! And my dad’s the best!

We spend Friday night at the famous Timberline Lodge I was at on Wednesday (yeah, I ate that breakfast buffet TWICE 💕), and skipped to Portland Saturday morning.

You may imagine my dad and running around Portland, eating at cool restaurants, visiting breweries, and immersing ourselves in cool, hip things.

NOPE. Highlights included the grocery store, preparing resupply boxes for all of Washington, eating at Chipotle, and just hanging out as a killer duo. This time was the best thing I needed before heading out into our final state. Love you, pop! 👍
Day 125: Bridge of the Gods (mi. 2144.6) to Mi. 2157.4


To catch his flight, my dad dropped me off in Cascade Locks pretty early. I hung around town for a while, grabbed some coffee, sent out resupply boxes, and waited on my crew to trickle into town.

It is SO weird having all of Washington’s resupplies in the books. It’s a huge relief, but also a little sad to know we don’t have any grocery store scrambles in the future 😪.

After meeting up and grabbing breakfast as a fam, we recrossed Bridge of the Gods and began a gnarly climb to the top of the gorge. Welcome to Washington- the land of a crazy amount of elevation change.

Also, humidity. We’re in a heat advisory and DANG I didn’t know Washington could be so warm. 🤦🏼‍♂️
Day 126: Mi. 2157.4 to Mi. 2184.6



This stretch I packed out green bell peppers, some apples, and a bag of carrots. What an excellent decision. I guess I’m getting the hang of resupplying? Bout time.
Day 127: Mi. 2184.6 to mi. 2211.4



Long, pretty boring day through a canopy of trees. However, there was a beauuutiful ending of the day with the Sawtooth Mountain trail, which parallels the PCT with views of all the surrounding volcanoes. What’s up, Hood, Adams, Helens, and Rainier?!
PSA: The new King’s Kaleidoscope album is incredible. Wow.
Day 128: Mi. 2211.4 to Timberline Trail Junction (Mt. Adams Base)



Spontaneity! You know those last minute decisions you just *know* is that right call? I feel like I do this a lot as an artist. Change some type here, adjust some copy there, etc etc. Welp, definitely did that today.

Tonight I find myself at the base of Mt. Adams, a pretty rad volcano in the area. A quick, last-minute decision to run to Trout Lake for more snacks allowed a few us of us to take a day to summit the nearby volcano. We’ll get started at 3am tomorrow, and I’m giddy with excitement (and a little afraid I’ll fall deeply in love with these volcanos).
Day 129: Timberline Trail Junction (Mt. Adams Base) to Lewis River (Mi. 2239.2)



Eyo!!!! Adams was BLAST. The six mile, 6,000′ climb to the summit took about five hours. Wasabi, Unger, and I climbed together and MAN was it worth it. The long pull up the glaciated slope reminded me painfully of the Sierra, and the rock scramble after Crescent Glacier felt a little like our Mt. Whitney climb.

There are no words that do justice to high mountain climbs. The exhaustion, in conjunction with absolute wonder and amazement, makes for a pretty fun feeling at the top. I really want everyone to climb one of these volcanoes up here- they’re just so special, with 360° vistas. Mmmmm.
Day 130: Lewis River (Mi. 2239.2) to Cispus Pass-ish (Mi. 2267.1)

woke up from a nap and a stranger gave me a beer. the dream!

Wellllll I stopped two miles short of my goal for today, but I’m getting to bed before sunset… so that’s good! Basically Adams WORE me out yesterday. I even woke up sore today, something that hasn’t happened in a good while. Tough!

Y’all I’m allllllmost out of the long green tunnel of the PNW. Since the California/Oregon border, vistas have been minimal and the trees have been our home. Not complaining- in the desert I would do anything for a bit of tree cover…. but man, I just love seeing what’s around me. And I *think* tomorrow will be the beginning of a few passes, a lot more vistas, and the majestic beauty of the Cascades. I can’t wait!!

I was super sleepy today, so I didn’t really soak in much. However, two cool things happened! We’re officially less than 400 miles to Canada (what), and I ran into some new friends that sorta knew me! David, Daniel, and Luke are southbound section hikers and were keeping an eye out for me. Daniel hails from Northwest Arkansas (eyo!) and knew me because of my blog! His girlfriend is apparently BFFs with my neighbor growing up, and through the wonderful world of social and digital media, was able to recognize me on trail. So cool.

Anyways, those guys were great to run into, reminded me of home, and the value life on trail can bring. Also, sorry for being so sleepy, fellas. I had just woken up from a nap. 🥇

Before rolling into camp, I listened to an episode of the Liturgists on ableism. If you have the time, check it out. Bottom line: We are so, so valuable. No matter age, skill set, sensory abilities, or chromosome count. Give it a listen and let me know your thoughts!

Over n out.

🥜

Days 109-122: Ashland (Mi. 1716.2) to Bridge of the Gods (Mi. 2144.6)

Spoiler alert… Oregon is DONESKIS.

I was told the state would fly by, but man… I did not anticipate being in Washington so quickly! There was a tiny bit of the state that we had to skip due to fire closures (I’ll get to that soon), but I’m excited to have that as a to-do Oregon vacation once the trail opens back up.

Anyway. Oregon is in the books and I’m getting border fever.
Day 109: Zero in Ashland



This morning I got all of my chores done pretty early, so I was able to REST for the majority of the day!! I skipped around downtown Ashland (the favorite town on trail yet), visiting local shops and eating whatever my heart pleased. I blogged a bit and called all the fam & friends. I’m starting to get a hang of this whole town thing!
Day 110: Ashland (Mi. 1716.2) to Hyatt Lake Campground (1740.2)



Lazy lazy lazy lazy lazy. Wowzers, today was an easy day!
The early risers (Lady, Wasabi, Neon, Unger, and I) split a cab and made it to the trailhead around 7:20am. A hop skip and a jump away, we made it to the first water source (about 8.5 miles in) and took a break. I took my first nap of the day here (that’s right, I took more than one).
The rest of the day was pretty darn easy. After our first break, we went another 7.5 miles to a road crossing where we stopped for lunch. This is where I took nap #2. Nap #2 was a little buggy, but still very enjoyable.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention!!! The heat wave is over!! The weather today was fantastic. Cool breezes and cold shadows. Seriously, Praise the Lord, because those hot days were t o u g h.
After our late lunch, I finished the 7 miles into camp fairly quickly. With a little bit of service, I was able to chat and laugh on the phone with my best friend, Taylor. Thankful for this friendship. 🙌
At camp we had some KILLER trail magic!! Karaoke’s girlfriend came and met us, bringing all the things- Root Beer Floats, Pizza, Cereal, Donuts, Chips, Carrots, Grapes, Hummus, etc.

^ not sure why I capitalized all those improper nouns… 😬. Current feelings towards food I guess…

Happy camper over here. 31 miles tomorrow- let’s go!

 

Day 111: Hyatt Lake Campground (1740.2) to Hwy 140 (1770.9)



Did the 30!

^In hindsight, I’m realizing that’s all I wrote for today… I must’ve been tiiiiired.

Day 112: Hwy 140 (1770.9) to Mi. 1801.8

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Yooooo! I’m going to be real honest- today was borrrrring. The trail was a long green tunnel for a long while, which put me in a terrible mood. I wanted vistas, dangit! The trail led me to get creative- so I got reaaaally into my music.

After the 4th John Mayer guitar solo with my trekking poles, I was back to boredom. Today we needed to walk 31 miles to set ourselves up for the Crater Lake fire alternate. This is our first major 2017 wildfire we’re having to navigate around, so tomorrow won’t be super fun. Yay road walking. 🤔
Day 113: Mi. 1801.8 to West Rim Alternate (PCT approx. 1829.8)

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Yo yo yo! What a DAY!
The day was mostly consumed by a 22? mile road walk among dirt roads and a highway. Roadwalking is kind of the worst, but we made the most of it!! Olaf, Lady and I trekked single file along the road… and at one point, we were all three dancing to whatever music we had playing in our earbuds. This is the making the most of road walking. Highlights included roadside berries and ALMOST getting hit by a car. Some unintelligent person decided to pass a semi as we were walking on the tiny shoulder facing oncoming traffic. He probably missed us by a foot- if not inches. Loserpants.
22 miles into the walk, we started getting pretty antsy. There was a small junction up ahead, and I joked to Olaf if it was Mazama Village (our first destination), I’d poop my pants in excitement. Turns out it was Mazama!! We weren’t anticipating hitting Mazama until wayyyy later, so we were pretty stoked to have made it this far so early (it was only 2:30pm).
At Mazama, there was some incredible trail magic hosted by two women from the Ashland-Medford area. They heard morale was low on trail from the fires, took time off work, loaded up on all the sweets and sodas, and hit the road to Crater Lake. We also met a SOBO (Southbounder) with a fiddle?, which made way to some beautiful midday entertainment!
Mazama was also a resupply point for this leg of the trail, so I picked up a package my mom mailed out for me. Thanks ma!!! HeLlllllLlloooooooo mashed potatoes, ramen, tortillas, peanut butter, and snickers. 🙌
Nearly everyone hitched around the closed section of trail, but a few of us wanted to maintain the continuous footpath we’ve had since Mexico. We know the upcoming closures will break this footpath, but we want to do the alternates as long as they’re available. So, while we planned to camp in Mazama campground, we still had a few miles to do to get to the Lake Rim (our starting point for tomorrow).
We did it without packs.
That’s right!! Lady and I left our packs in Mazama, hiked the ~5 miles to the rim, and hitched back to the campground. In the morning we’ll hitch back up to the Rim and continue where we left off. Cheating? Nahhh. Lazy? You betcha.

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Back in Mazama, we were gifted by trail magic YET AGAIN! Unger’s friends from YWAM Salem came down to treat PCT hikers to an AMAZING spread of food: hot dogs, burgers, Oreos, chips, corn, carrots, beans, soda, chocolate cake, etc etc etc. I haven’t seen that much food from magic on trail yet. And my friend Otter caught up to us!! It was such a fun evening with a ton of laughs.
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Thank you YWAM Salem for cultivating this atmosphere of relaxation and for loving those on trail so well! So easy to see Christ’s love through you guys. So, so cool.
I am PUMPED for the rest of the trail. Yesterday I was not at all (#tiredprobs), but I’m particularly excited about the West Rim Trail tomorrow. Gonna be dopppee!

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Oh, and I’m just excited to be in another National Park. This is our 5th National Park to hike through, and we just have two more to go!

Fun fact: Did you know Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States? Also, it used to be a mountain that blew its top. Dang.

Day 114: West Rim Alternate (PCT approx. 1829.8) to Thielsen Creek (mi. 1853.6)

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Crater Lake is freaking BEAUT! Pictures are worth a thousand words, so here’s a handful of my favorite shots of today. Other than the Rim Trail, today was pretty dang long and boring. It was just around 25 miles, but for some reason I was just wiped out and a little irritable. Enjoy the shots and book a trip to Crater Lake ASAP.

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Day 115: Thielsen Creek (mi. 1853.6) to Summit Lake (mi. 1886.9)

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Hahaha…  I attempted to record everything I did this day chronologically for a bit more creative post. Halfway through the day I lost tabs on my activity… and once I completed the 33 mile day, I just about passed out.

In hindsight, my days really aren’t too interesting when listed out. It’s a lot of hiking, peeing, leapfrogging with people, and eating. This has me thinking- what makes a good story? Is it the content, or the way it is told? If I feel my life with a lot of interesting things, but fail to communicate, listen, empathize with others, and make a connection… am I still living a good story? Is a story even measurable? Food for thought.

Once again, I apologize for a half-hearted post. While the intentions were good, the execution was poor. 😉
5a- Lady wakes up

5:45a- I wake up

5:47a- Eat a snickers

6:05a: Leave camp

7:10a: Pass olaf

7:32a: Pee

7:33a: Reach PCT Oregon/Washington high point

7:45a: Got a bar of service- checked PCTA website for updated conditions on the central Oregon wildfires

8:45a: pee break!

9:21a: 10 miles in!

9:30a: See Olaf- break for our 10×10 break.

10:03a: See Smeagol… keep breaking.

11:45a: Meet Lady for lunch with Smeagol

12:43p: Leave lunch with Lady, Smeagol, and Olaf.

1:35p: Find water at cache.

 

Yep. That’s just about as far as I got…. oops!

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For some fun reading… here’s a little bit of info on our upcoming fire closure:

https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/trail-condition/three-sisters-fires-2017/

 

Day 116: Summit Lake (mi. 1886.9) to Lower Rosalie Lake (mi. 1908.5)

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Shootdang! Today was reeaaally nice. 22 miles with lots of R&R. I slept in, crossed the 1900 mile marker, and hiked about 17 miles into Shelter Cove Resort, where most of the gang chose to resupply. I only needed a few snacks, which freed up time to do laundry for the crew and take a quick, expensive shower. No joke- it was $1.75/3 minutes. I treated myself to a nine minute shower 💁🏼‍♂️.
I love this bubble that I’m surrounded by right now. From my close trail family (Unger, Lady, Wasabi, Olaf, Bamboo, Karaoke, and Neon) to those that we leapfrog throughout the day… I’m just grateful for the positivity and constant laughter.
After Shelter Cove, we hiked about 6 miles up to Rosalie Lake to camp. On the way, we ran into some ultra marathoners! They were finishing their 100k trail race. 100k!!! That’s like 64pointsomething miles! Whatthe. So cool. We cheered them on as they finished out their last few miles, encouraged by their motivation and dedication to finish strong.
A lot of the anxiety I’ve been carrying about the upcoming closures has definitely subdued. We have a game plan!! Bamboo’s aunt and uncle are going to give us a ride around the 83 mile closure (there’s no alternate 😪) on Monday after the eclipse. We will resupply in Bend and get to Brightenbush Lake Monday evening. From there, Lady and I plan to book it to the OR/WA border by Friday morning beeeecaaause MY DAD is coming!! And Lady’s boyfriend! So fun! Lady and I plan to do a 40+ mile day on Tuesday, followed by some high 20’s Wed/Thurs.
Anyway. Game plans are good. Now it’s just time to do them.
Day 117: Lower Rosalie Lake (mi. 1908.5) to mi. 1937.4

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“don’t you… forget about me.”
CAN’T GET THIS SONG OUT OF MY HEAD.
And now I just want to watch Breakfast Club.
Thanks a lot, Spotify.
Today was really enjoyable. The miles were flat and soft terrain, so the day passed quickly. The rest of the group (Otter, Bamboo, Karaoke, Neon, Lady, Olaf, Unger, Spaghetti and Meatballs, and Wasabi) pressed on extra two miles from my tentsite beside a small unnamed pond. Not mad about it- this means I get some much anticipated alone time! Hooray introversion!
I know I mention this a lot, but I love this group that I’m hiking with. We laugh, dance, eat, and sleep together. We accidentally stumble across each other taking a squat, and go on midday adventures together (today, otter and I took an afternoon swim in Lake Charlton! 🙌). This is family.
One thing Otter and I were talking about today is how the trail has become very tame. Since the Sierra, adrenaline rushes are less frequent to nonexistent, and our surroundings have been a little more traditional to backpacking (lots of lakes and trees). We’ve noticed that since the hike has become pretty monotonous, hikers are creating challenges. We’re pushing our miles to best personal records, some choose to partake in the 24 Hour Challenge (a full day of nonstop hiking), and others choose to fill their day with podcasts and loads of 80’s/90’s pop classics 🙋🏼‍♂️. In summary, the trail isn’t nearly as thrilling. We’re ready for a little more challenging miles, but still enjoying our time out here. Washington, we’re ready for you!!

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I have three sisters too, Oregon!

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Today was a good day. Oh, and we got some dirt road trail magic (magic in the middle of NOWHERE). He had a pint of ice cream and a Coke each one of us. He’s an angel.
Also, yes. You read that correctly. I downed a PINT of ice cream from a stranger in the middle of a 29 mile day 🙂.
Day 118: Mi. 1937.4 to Breitenbush Lake (Mi. 2037.5)

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The Pacific Crest Trail has been absolutely relentless to thru-hikers this year. The desert brought its typical heat, long water carries, and poisonous poodle-dog bush. The Sierra was home to record snow, relentless creek crossings, and many fatalities. Northern California gave us record-beaking temperatures, and Oregon is giving us an abundance of wildfires….

….

Buuuuuut. The trail also crosses the 2017 Solar Eclipse’s path of totality in Oregon… RIGHT where the average thru-hikers would be around this time of year. Unfortunately, the majority of this totality belt is closed due to the Three Sisters and Mt. Jefferson fires, but were able to get right up to the Three Sisters fire and view the Solar Eclipse with almost complete totality (98% I believe??).

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It was a treat- and one of my favorite moments on trail. We didn’t have to deal with big crowds, and all gathered in a giant meadow in the Wilderness eating each other’s snacks and yelling in excitement over the phenomenon. As the Eclipse progressed to totality, the temperature DROPPED. In an instant, we were all scrambling for our puffies and snuggling even closer than before. We were giggling with excitement, all noting the change of lighting and pointing to the stars that were beginning to make their appearance in the mid-day sky.

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Wasabi trying on her Eclipse Glasses (shot by Ungerwhere)

Here’s some thoughts from Mr. Jedidiah Jenkins on the Eclipse… a piece I’d like to share!

I saw a couple articles yesterday about the loss of productivity caused by the eclipse. Something like $700m lost because of ‘distracted employees.’ Ha! Makes me laugh. That we could even have the conversation. Something as miraculous and strange as the sky going black at 1:30pm for two minutes, and we talk about money. I mean, I don’t mean to be critical. It is interesting to know how much a few minutes of our times is worth, I guess. But the fact that our country is suffering a divided conscience, a broken heart, and a polarized confusion like nothing I’ve seen in my life… and the sky would go black, inviting every single human being in its path to stop for a few minutes and gaze, is a bit of a miracle, a cosmic gift. And it sliced right across the whole damn country as if on purpose.
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As I stood there, I thought how lovely unity is, but it only comes from simple problems. Seems that the only thing that would bring us all together is a giant meteor or alien invasion. Science and race and cultural narratives and American myths… these things are complex and our animal brains struggle. A big black orb in the sky, wow, we can all grasp that.
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I thought about how long ago they predicted this eclipse. There’s a NYTimes article from 1932 speaking about the eclipse on August 21st, 2017 like some futuristic fantasy. If science can so accurately predict the movements of the moon and the earth, I wonder why so many people disbelieve the chorus of scientists about our changing climate. I wonder if science’s power of prediction is limitless. If everything is just complex math. Like, at some point in our future, will a doctor be able to predict a distant mood swing I’ll have in 2061.
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I thought about the people I was with, their component parts of joy, curiosity, kindness, gratitude, and mischief… and how I get to live life with them…and I get to cry with them… usually at beauty.

 

The rest of the day was a blast- we hiked the final 2ish? miles into Elk Lake, right where the Three Sisters Wilderness Fire begins. From here, we’re skipping 83 miles up to Breitenbush Lake to resume the PCT. After 1950 miles, we’re officially ending our continuous footpath from Mexico. It was bound to happen, but it’s still a bummer. But again- I cannot WAIT to come back and hike this section of the PCT!! It’s an absolute highlight that I will. not. miss.

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How did we get up to Breitenbush? Bamboo’s aunt and uncle! We snagged a ride through the Eclipse traffic, to the town of Bend (had to snag some groceries!), and across crazy gravel and forest roads up to the trail. There were 11 of us in a pickup truck for nearly 5 hours on these backroads. We laughed until we cried, sang some songs, and mourned the 83 miles we were skipping because of the closure. After arriving to the trail in the 10pm hour, we hiked a mile into camp and called it a day. Woof.

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trail treats

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Day 119: Breitenbush Lake (Mi. 2037.5) to Mi. 2062.4

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Lazy day lazy day! Today we celebrated our man Karaoke as he turned 34! Festivities were held at a small lake 3 miles into the hike, and included baked goods from Bend, ring pops, and huckleberries picked from nearby bushes. Trail birthdays are the bomb.

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When I say today was lazy, I’m not joking. I slept in, took a long nap at lunch (I’ve MISSED these!), took a couple breaks, and got to camp by 7pm (a total rarity). Somehow still managed to hike 25 miles today. Don’t ask me how, because I’m not sure.

I can tell the end is coming up. This evening Wasabi and I planned out our last few weeks through Washington and into Canada, establishing final resupplies and a potential end date. That’s insane.

There are so many things I’m going to miss about this lifestyle. From peeing anytime/anywhere, swimming in countless lakes, and eating berries growing on trail…. to the less tangible- community built through discipline, an understanding of self, and the nourishment that comes from nature. It’s a good life out here. 🙂
Day 120: Mi. 2062.4 to Palmeteer Trail Junction (Mi. 2087.4)

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While the miles were short, today was a pretty long day! The trail was a little uninspiring, with lots and lots of tree cover. Also, I didn’t really see the group at all today, because I’m setting myself up for a 40 tomorrow. Once again, I’m camping away from the group… but it’s aight!

I posted on my Instagram Story asking for podcast/audiobook/music recommendations and got some BALLIN recs. Maybe I’ll do one last final “what I’m listening to” post here in a few weeks…. because you guys know good music. Thankya.

 

Day 121: Palmeteer Trail Junction (Mi. 2087.4) to Wahtum Lake (2127.9)

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Forty forty forty!!!!!

Today was just so enjoyable. I did an alpine start (3:30am wakeup heyooo!), in order to catch up to the group at Timberline Lodge for breakfast. Timberline Lodge is FAMOUS for their breakfast buffet. Seriously- I remember being around mile 300 in the desert and hearing people talking about the breakfast buffet at Timberline. Welcome to the PCT- where we talk about breakfast food 1,800 miles before we’re there.

I should note- today was a terrible day to choose to do a 40. The elevation gain/loss was insane… and I did 33 miles of it after multiple plates of breakfast. Poor planning.

Anyway- I ran into a bear around 4:30am on trail- I believe he was more spooked than I was. With the perfect blend of adrenaline and grogginess, I made my way up the side of Mount Hood to the Lodge! The Lodge was BUMPING when I rolled up around 6:30am. So many hikers I’ve been hiking around for the past few weeks- 2taps, Otter, Spaghetti & Meatballs, Baby Carrots, Drop Out, my entire 8 person crew, and probably over a dozen others. We feasted. It was amazing.

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The rest of the day was spent trekking up and around the Mount Hood area. I hiked with Neon for the majority of the day, which sped up the miles quite a bit. We even took a spur trip to Ramona Falls. It was neat.

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I departed from the rest of the group at a spring around mile 2124, just three miles shy of my 40 mile day. The remaining miles were spent thinking about the 40 mile day. Why was I so intrigued by this goal? Was my desire rooted in pride and accomplishment, or something more innocent like entertainment and amusement? I’m not entirely sure, but I think it was healthy assessment to ask myself this (especially as I near Canada). Also… I read this verse yesterday that was a big reality check being out here.

For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds for the present life and also for the life to come. – 1 Timothy 4:8 (ESV)

Here’s to the value of training and discipline in all areas of life!

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Day 122: Wahtum Lake (2127.9) to Bridge of the Gods (Mi. 2144.6)

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HEYO WASHINGTON.

Today was a quick 17 mile day into the Columbia River Gorge and the town of Cascade Locks!! I was pretty much heads-down jamming all the way down the 5,000′ descent because I knew Papa Glenn was waiting at the bottom!! Seriously- I didn’t even take a single picture on the way down. My bad.

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We reached Bridge of the Gods around 12:30p and my dad pulled up JUST after. This dude dropped me off at the Mexico Border FOUR MONTHS ago today. After big hugs and introduction the trail family, we all crossed the Bridge of the Gods into Washington together. Talk about chills. The next border we cross will be international. Canada, we’re coming!!

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Papa Glenn treated us all to lunch and ice cream in Cascade Locks, a big ol’ celebration of two states down! My dad kept on saying to the group, “you guys look EXACTLY like you do in the pictures!!” I guess that what happens when you’re rocking permanent dirt and only have 1 outfit available.

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The group dispersed after our little party because we’re taking the weekend off!!! That’s right- we’re all taking double zeros. Most of us are headed to Portland, while a few are spending time in Salem and near the Timberline/Cascade Locks area. My dad and I are staying at Timberline Lodge tonight (you BET I’m going to have the breakfast buffet again), and heading into PDX for the rest of the weekend tomorrow. I’m a happy camper.

 


 

Until next time!! I am going to try and squeeze in as many posts as I can between now and Canada. Washington will be a little be more remote than Oregon, but I have high hopes for service every few days.

Once again, thank you for the unbelievable support as I approach the finale of this hike!! Let’s finish this thing together!!!

PS- So sorry for all the potential typos in this post. I don’t proofread before posting…. sorry @everyenglishteacheri’veeverhad!!

Days 102-108 (Mi. 1541.7 to 1716.2)

Bahbyyeeeee California. 👋👋👋👋👋

Day 102: Mi. 1541.7 to Mi. 1571.3


Last night I had a little mouse crawl around my sleeping bag. I love friends, but he wasn’t invited to the party. Also, it rained last night for just a sec. Didn’t rest too well. But it’s aight.

Man, o man. What a fun day! Though we just did 29.6, the sentiment of a 30 was definitely there. Definitely the most about of miles I’ve done in 48 hours (63.3). Oh!! And the combination of altitude + lingering thunderstorms brought in a nice cool front. We were spritzed on for a bit in the afternoon, and overall never faced tough heat today! Booyeah!!

Again, just grateful for this little trail family I’ve joined. It makes a great difference. Right now we (Unger, Wasabi, Lady, Olaf, Karaoke, and myself) are all cowboy camping on an exposed ridge. Wasabi just made us all falafels and we’re dreaming of what the next few hundred miles will include. Happy happy.
Listening update: today I binge-listened to My Favorite Murder. Ohhhhhh myyyy gosh. So good. Shelbi, I believe you recommended this podcast to me. Thank you.
Day 103: Mi. 1571.3 to Etna (Mi. 1597.2)


Today just rocked. 26 miles of rolling hills through super cloudy (and later stormy) weather with the best crew around. I’m a lucky guy!!
Here are some highlights from the day:

These hills


This DOPE lunch spot. Lots of laughs on this ridge. Meat chicken forever. 


These flowers.


This lake we swam in.


This storm we were caught in.

Unger’s friend, Al. In short, Al is just an all around bad A older man who loves the Lord and wants to host and love on others. He graciously picked all seven (Bamboo caught us later) us up at the trailhead at Etna Summit and took us home. He cooked us meals, allowed us to sleep, watch movies, and do laundry. Seriously. What a dream. Thanks for EVERYTHING, Al. You’re a rockstar. 

Day 104: Etna (Mi. 1597.2) to Mi. 1607.9

Chill day!!!! U

^ I fell asleep while writing that last night. Long story short- we woke up, ate a WONDERFUL breakfast from Al, drove to Walmart (shoutout to Arkansas !) for resupply, gorged on food, and headed back to the trailhead for a simple 10-15 miles to camp.


During the hike we officially hit 1600 miles (whaaaaaat), so that’s fun!! I can’t believe we’ll soon be less than 1000 miles to Canada. Is this hike ending that soon? Someone throw on the brakes.

Anyway, another happy day on trail. Still can’t believe this is my life. Hike all day with a bunch of badass lovely people in some of the most incredible Creation I’ve ever laid eyes on. I will never forget this feeling. 
Day 105: Mi. 1607.9 to Mi. 1639.2


Woa. Today I was introduced to the magic of cold soaking meals instead of cooking them and my mind is BLOWN. Right now I’m celebrating a 31.7 mile day with hot mashed potatoes and cold soaked cuscus (100% guess on that spelling. That’s the beauty of no google to spellcheck…. completely vulnerability). Life is goooooood.

Lots of ups and downs today physically, but pretty much all 👍👍👍 mentally. I listened to some rad podcasts (seriously, the Liturgists is SO good. Dang.) and dreamed about post-trail career. I know this isn’t really Trail related, but I need to type out some thoughts.
-98% sure I want to move to NYC

-I love the outdoor scene, want to be in the industry long-term, but not sure I want to jump in it quiiiiite yet.

-I love graphic design, marketing, copywriting, and photography

-passionate about the environment, food sustainability, and how to reduce our footprint on our fancy little Earth

-love art therapy and the healing it can bring

-Grad school ?????

If you can find a job that includes all of the above, I will give you a high five. I’m not stressing about it, but mainly curious how to find that dream job. My position at May Designs was that “dream job,” so I’m excited to try and find that again.  

I should probs get back to my cuscus. Thanks for reading (and being patient with) this dang thing. Thoughts are v scattered.
Day 106: Mi. 1639.2 to Seiad Valley to Mi. 1665.2


Today was our last full day in California!!! We’re also less than 1000 miles until Canada. So much to celebrate!!

^ once again, I fell asleep writing this last night. Going to try and do a quick wrap up of yesterday before jumping into day 107.

Hike hike hike down into Seiad Valley! A lot of the morning was hiking down dirt + paved roads through town. Nobody enjoys road walking, buuuuuut this one wasn’t too bad. There were blackberry bushes THE entire way!! So enjoyable!!!! Also, we walked by a guy’s house who owned the largest pig I’ve ever seen in my life. Her name is Molly. 😮


Crossing through Seiad was fun! The heat was juuuust starting up (we arrived right around 11:20a), so the break at the General Store & Cafe was beautiful and very needed. We all scarfed down our burgers and milkshakes in record timing. So, so good. Cheers to the last town in California. (Oh- and everyone in Seiad is in support of the State of Jefferson, so just about residence or business had a mural or flag or emblem with the State. So strange).


I picked up a package my friend Emilee had sent to me and HOLY SNACKS. I’ve never seen this many snacks in one box. And they were all so, so good. Think beef jerky, all the chocolate covered things, trail mixes, candies, etc. I feel bad for the employees of the Plano Target, because they must be seriously running low on snacks after a Emilee’s visit. THANKS EMILY.

The climb out of Seiad is infamous. It’s 5k+ feet of elevation gain in just a few miles, making it one of the steepest parts of the trail. Because we hit town just before lunch, our departure time was in the blistering, muggy afternoon heat. I planned to head out around 1pm, but it got pushed back to just after 3. Oops!


The climb was hands-down one of my least favorite parts of trail. I have nevvvvver sweat this much- not even at a Pine Cove dance or opening day (no, really). I blame it on the 748292 lbs of snacks on my back. (Just kidding, Em!! So worth it!!!)

After a few hours, the climb was complete and our gang had nestled into camp. It was a sobering feeling knowing it was my last night in California. What an incredible journey and challenge this state has been. So much love.

Also, Olaf made me a wonderful dessert taco to celebrate our climb. Thanks, girl. 

Day 107: Mi. 1665.2 to OREGON (Mi. 1693.6)


Today’s post is dedicated to OREGON!!!! Goodness gracious, what a dream it was to cross the border into a new state. I’ve officially hiked the entirety of California- all 1689.2 miles of it.

In classic California fashion, the state just showed off in my last moments with it. Here are a few highlights from today:

 
And then we crossed the border!! Onto new domain, no sales tax, and lots of forest fires!!


Happy day. Thankful for hardships and milestones and wonderful hiking pals.
Day 108: Mi. 1693.6 to Ashland (Mi. 1716.2)


I love the final stretch into town. It’s easy to feel untouchable, flying by the few day hikers and knowing “I get to eat whatever I want in just a few hours.”

As much as I rag on towns, I really do love this feeling. It’s like the PCT is built of a hundred little marathons. (No really, it kind of is).

I love Oregon. I mean, the terrain hasn’t changed at all. But just the feeling of having the entirety of California in the rear-view is overwhelming. Both Oregon and Washington are experiencing crazy wildfires on the PCT… so things are about to get tricky… but OH WELL. That’s the trail. 

In town, I was able to grab dinner with the amazing Eliza Hunter!! Eliza and I juuuuusst missed each other at SCAD, the university I went for my freshman year. However, our friend group was the exact same… so we’ve both heard each other’s names for 5 years now.


Eliza is in the middle of a solo roadtrip spanning the entire United States, from Georgia, through the south, and up the Pacific Coast. She’s currently in route to Portland, Seattle, Canada, the Tetons, RMNP, Chicago, and back around east. So so so so so cool.

Being able to talk faith, solitude, and the gift of discomfort was wonderful. Sure, our journeys look a little different, but there are some core themes that are easily shared between the two. Thank you, Eliza, for treating this hungry hiker to dinner and a warm conversation. Full in so many ways!

Cheers until the next update!! It will probably be in 2 weeks when I’m in Portland. Can’t believe I’ll hike all of OR in just over 2 weeks. So nuts. 

As always, thanks for the incredible encouragement these few weeks. I’m just blown away. 🙂🙂🙂

Days 96-101 (Mi. 1394.2 to 1541.7)


Moral of this blog post:

-Friends are such a good thing

-Northern California is hot hot hot

-I love free food
Day 96: Mi. 1394.2 to Mi. 1416.5


One of my favorite days on trail yet!!

It’s crazy how much people can influence your day, am I right? They can either ruin it or completely make it. Thankfully, today was the latter.

Today was another one of those days where I was spoiled all day long. I woke up around 5:30a, dozed to sleep, rewoke around 6:30 and started moseying. As I was packing, I was passed by Olaf and Lady, two hikers I’ve only heard about from others’ trail stories. Super kind, they wished me a happy morning and with a “see ya!” they were off.

I quickly packed the rest of my stuff and scooted down the trail. I first caught Olaf- a twenty-something from Salem, Oregon. I asked if she was the one who walked away from Omelas… she didn’t get my joke. Also, homegirl hiked 25 miles today in CROCS because her shoes are toast. Props, Olaf.

Later, I found Lady and hiked with her for a few minutes before passing. A little down trail, I posted up under a nice pine to catch some shade + check in on Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Ron just got splinched, Harry is moody, and Hermione is a badass camper.

Into my read + Achilles rest, I was passed by the whole gang- Lady, Olaf, the Germans, Ladybug, and Rhino. I love this crew! We hiked into Burney Mountain Guest Ranch together and MAN. What a treat.

On arrival we were greeted with open arms. We signed up for lunch, I went to the store for resupply, and waited around on the porch outside. There are some nasty wildfires in the area, so the air is warm and smoggy. Gross.

Anyway- we were served a warm, home cooked lunch AND homemade strawberry ice cream. Dang. The owners are believers, with stuff you’d find at Hobby Lobby and Mardel’s plastered around the walls. And the wifi password was live4Jesus. Tacky? Sure… But as I hail from the Bible Belt, this was a nice, familiar scene. Good, kind folks. 

The rest of the trail was a quick 9.2 mile hike into Burney Falls State Park. We scored some trail magic about midway, complete with ice cold lemonade and snacks (including red vines!). I left smiling with a little pep in my step (probs the sugar rush).


We met Karaoke a few miles from camp, and he, Olaf, and I rolled into the Park just before 6:30p. And guess what was waiting for us??

MORE TRAIL MAGIC.

Franger’s parents had come in from Sacramento to love on hikers and see their son. Seems like a TOTAL Mama and Papa Glenn thing to do. I miss them.


After lots of laughs and consuming a significant amount of puffy cheetos, watermelon, pulled-pork sandwiches, ice cream, and drinks, we made the trek down to the backpacker campground. Our territory really shows how state parks think of thru-hikers…. out in the campground BOONIES. Also, we had to pay $5 each. Lame lame lame.


But also, trail magic. Soooo I’m thankful. Also!! I showered for this first time in 10 days today. So so so clean.

Man. Today I’m thankful for the folks that go above and beyond to love on and celebrate PCT hikers. I really want to match their mindset and carry it into traditional life. How cool would it be if we had the PCT Trail Angel mindset for strangers we encounter? Or even those we surround ourselves with daily- friends, coworkers, family.

What if, instead of saying “here’s a campground in a cemetery- give me $5″… we said “hey! Take a seat. Here’s some food. Would you like an IPA or a soda? Tell me your story.” 

Things could look pretty cool.
Day 97: Mi. 1416.5 to Mi. 1443.5


Mmmmm. Started out thinking today was going to be pretty low-key. HA.

I didn’t hit trail until 8:30, soaking up some wonderful amenities ($2.50 crappy coffee) at the campground. I lingered to trail (with coffee in hand) and moseyed down the path. I called my mom (hi mom!) and caught up for close to an hour. Super chill.

And then I met Neon. He told me there was going to be trail magic from his girlfriend’s mom at mile 1443.5.

My 24 goal turned into a 27 REAL quick. I even skipped my lunch, usual breaks, and nap to make it happen. I left Harry and Hermione alone in Godric’s Hollow with “Bathilda” all day. Who am I?!?!

Overall, today was super boring. The smog from nearby forest fires clouded the view and burned our throats. Boo.

Anyway- I’ll cut to the chase. I made it to trail magic RIGHT as she was pulling away. I scored a Coke and a beautiful sub sandwich. Also- cookies, strawberries and a banana. 

It’s crazy what I’ll do for food out here. It’s a little alarming, actually. 
Last thing- I’ve hit (or gone over) my daily goal set for each day for 8 days in a row!! If I had Nutella, I’d take a couple large spoonfuls as a congrats to myself. But I’ve banned myself from Nutella after I ate an entire jar in 2 days last week. If you know how many calories that is, don’t tell me. Ignorance is bliss.

Day 98: Mi. 1443.5 to Mi. 1474.0


Thirty thirty thirty!!! AND my Achilles hardly flared up. And chafing was minimal. Win win win.

Have I mentioned how hot NorCal is? It’s a freaking sauna up here. We’re finallllly on the tail end of this heat wave (I think), which is good. Because I can’t take another triple-digit day when trying to hit 30+ miles.

That’s another thing. I wouldn’t say 30’s are quite standard…. but they’re definitely not the rarity they’ve been on trail. It seems like EVERYONE has a deadline to meet (besides Winter in Canada), so the trail is fast moving. I’m not complaining or anything…. but dang. People be fast.

The trail today wasn’t anything crazy. Around midday the smoke from the forest fires FINALLY cleared up, so praise the Lord for that. My throat is raw from breathing in all this smoke and ash. 


After this mega 3.5k’ descent, there was trail magic!! The Kiwi couple I’ve been hiking with (Bridget and Tarzan) lately were there to greet me (“Peanut!!!”), and we toasted our apples and Dr. Peppers to another big day in the books. 

As the miles completed continue to outgrow the miles to come, I am starting to feel more and more sad. Is it true we only have a few weeks (okay, like 2 months…) left on trail?? Bitterfreakingsweet.

Oh, today I listened to my 90s/00s summer punk playlist for 12 straight hours. I told myself I’d switch to a different playlist after “Tricky” came on. It came on around 7pm. Yeah.

Cheers to a big day and cheers to getting to Mt. Shasta A DAY EARLIER than expected. You better believe I’ll be getting a milkshake. Tomorrow’s gonna rock. 💀🤘
Day 99: Mi. 1474.0 to Mount Shasta (Mi. 1498.7)


Holy smokes holy smokes holy smokes.

IT’S SO HOT!!!!! Seriously, today was record temps for the area in 25 years. It was 105° and I felt every single last one of those degrees. Also, my feet were barking all day. Blisters are baaaaaack 🤸‍♂️.

Hiked just under 25 miles to Interstate 5. Most of it was downhill (yay!), but even the downhill gets ugly on your feet. Oh well. Nothing a good podcast can’t fix!! (Anybody listen to On Being? It’s a good one)

Once I reached the interstate, I hobbled up the blacktop on ramp to try my best at getting a hitch. It took about 20 minutes, but I was able to get a ride!!

Unfortunately, the ride only took me halfway to my intended town (Mount Shasta), so I ended up getting dinner in Dunsmuir. The Lord definitely knew what he was doing, because this was possible the best tasting meal on trail yet. Everything was SO fresh, and I’m a new believer in Broccoli Slaw. Wow. So good.

After din din, I walked back to the interstate to get a hitch…. the on ramp was a little narrow, so I walked down to right before the next exit. Unfortunately, I was called in and 2 cops came and pulled me over. After pulling my Texas card and multiple “oh! I’m sorry!!”s, they let me off with a warning. But I also got a hitch to motel, so I think it’s a win win.


Once again, towns are stressful. The effort it takes to acclimate to social norms and town rules (don’t expect to have conversations with everyone you see…. you can’t just pee anywhere… walking along major interstates is illegal….), then back to trail life, is exhausting. Town and trail are opposites. It’s one of the most frustrating parts of the trail.

But what a lesson!!! I hope to be a guy that can easily adapt and lend myself to different cultures and people. I hope to be able to love people in town just as intentionally as I do on trail. I hope to be a light, a bit of hope, a representation of Christ’s love, consistently… no matter if I’m trekking in 105° temps in the woods, or simply downing my 7th glass of Arnold Palmer in town. Anyway. Just some thoughts.

Oh! I spontaneously saw Dunkirk last night. HOLYCOW. Also, Harry Styles? Random.
Day 100: Mount Shasta (Mi. 1498.7) to Mi. 1508.0


I know I know, I’ve done my town schpeel (sp?) quite a bit, but DANG it’s tough to get out of town. Also, my phone charger broke. If you know the backstory on my phone charger, you know how perfectly tragic and unsurprising this is. 

Anyway!! Walked around town a lot. Ate some pancakes, drank coffee, and planned out Oregon’s miles (so close!). I also finally met up with a hiker I’ve been friends with on Instagram for a while, so that’s fun (heyo Dirty Avocado!)! I ran by the post office, grabbed some lunch at the natural foods store (PTL for veggies), and resupplied at the grocery store.

Heading out the grocery store, I ran into a man named Dennis. Dennis is a thru-hiker turned section-hiker that’s been following hikers up the entire trail to give them rides to town, provide Trail magic, and more. So cool. Dennis gave me a ride to trail and on the way I learned his brother dated my aunt in high school. The world is weird.


Anyway- once I got to the trailhead, my motivation died in the heat… so I just sat and ate food in the shade for a few hours. Sorry, miles. But good news?? I ran into Olaf, Lady, and friends!! Met Unger and Wasabi (hikers I’ve heard about for a while)… and I just can’t wait to spend more time with these folks. Love love.

Day 101: Mi. 1508.0 to Mi. 1541.7


THIRTY THREE POINT SEVEN MILES TODAY. Biggest day on trail yet, and I’m HYPED.

Last night I didn’t really sleep well at all. I woke up at 12:30a super thirsty and hiked a half mile to find water. All dry. Also, it’s nearly a full moon, so that definitely kept me up.

Dang!!! It is so fun hiking with friends!! This morning I spent the first few hours listening to music and podcasts (anybody listen to the Liturgists??), then decided to take a break under a tree. That’s where I caught part of my new tramily (trail family)! Olaf, Wasabi, Unger, and Neon all passed by. They had dreams of a high mile day, so I decided to tag along.

Long story short- we hiked and hiked and hiked. My feet are SO TENDER and hurt pretty bad, but it’s aight. We’ll all be good.

Oh, and Unger works for YWAM in Salem. It was so cool and refreshing to talk about ministry with someone. Cool guy. 

I’m sorry today’s post isn’t more descriptive. I’m BEAT and there are quite a few ants crawling on me right now. So that’s lame. Here are some pics!!! (Mom, I know, I’ll take more pictures of people’s faces soon)

Days 88-95 (Mi. 1265.4 to 1394.2)


Heyo!!!!
Spoiler alert- this section I’m thankful for HEALING. I know a whooolllllleee lot of people were praying for my Achilles, and I’m stoked to say that it’s back and better than ever. It definitely gave me a good scare, but with some rest and slowish miles… it’s in good shape!! Thank you for the prayers, friends. Grateful grateful.

Day 88: Zero in Almanor

5am: Woke and so eager to get to the trailhead!! I am RESTED and READY to keep on keeping on.
5:40am: Packed and ready to go!
5:43am: Laces up, puts on pack, and walks out the doors
5:46am: Back in bed with ice on elevated foot. There’s no way I’m hiking out anytime soon.
Gahhhh, this is so frustrating! Just when the trail gets a little more predictable, I’m thrown a curve ball and have to stay off the foot. This injury seriously might take me off trail. TBD.

Good news? My wonderful Aunty Lynnie and Uncle Michael were up in the area for the weekend!! My extended family has a cabin on Lake Almanor, so after a little swoop down to Quincy (thanks, fam!!), the three of us were in route to the cabin. My heart is aching for the trail, but I know this rest is so needed. Grrrr.

But not a bad place to take a 2nd Zero, am I right?

Day 89: Zero in Almanor

Third zero with little improvement on the ol’ Achilles.

Rest rest rest. Swim swim swim. Read read read. This is the good life.
Day 90: Bucks Lake Road (mi. 1265.4) to Mi. 1280.4


PCT, be nice to me!! Back in your territory after three days off from injury. 

I was able to do exactly 15 miles after being dropped back on trail today. Taking it reaaaaalllllly slow, but I was able to make the miles without *too* much pain. Thanking the Lord for surprising me with the little things- even if that’s a mere 15 miles without major pain.

Heading into camp, I was greeted with an unreal sunset. I had to stop and stare into the beauty, with an incredible headrush of how trivial my goal of reaching Canada is. Sure, it’s an incredible goal and I’m pretty dang set on making it! But in comparison to the fullness of joy, peace, and learning I’ve experienced through the miles, it is just straight up silly. I’m not sure if this makes sense…. but I’m no longer idolizing the Canadian border. That’s big. 
Day 91: Mi. 1280.4 to Mi. 1303.4


Took LOTS of breaks today, but I don’t care!!! 23 more miles are in the bag, and my Achilles is still attached to my body. Praise. Oh, and look at this climb. Ohhhhh Belden. You’re mean.



But yay 1300!
Day 92: Mi. 1303.4 to Mi. 1328.8


Halfway halfway halfway!!!!!!

Honestly, today was a blur because I was SOFREAKINGSTOKED to reach the halfway mark!! There was an infiltration of deer at the marker, so that was fun to hang with. I’ve been pretty fascinated with deer lately- such intricate creatures.

With 1325 miles both under the belt and in the plans, I have to ask myself if I’d do this all over again.

Would I go through the logistical nightmare to even get myself to the Southern Terminus? Trek through the exposed, waterless stretches in the desert? Dozens of blisters? Slush through 250 miles of suncups, with 2:30am starts? Have my Yosemite backcountry bushwacking incident? Hurt my Achilles? 
Yesyesyesyesyesyesyes.

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared to with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

-Philippians 3:8

All those tribulations seem minuscule when sized up to the glory, majesty, and wonder of Christ I’ve experienced on trail. The purity of the sky in the desert, the sunrises canvases behind cathedral peaks in the Sierra, the growth and vegetation of NorCal… all undeserved. The beauty in hardship, and pressing into discomfort. The dozens of nations (and endless personalities!) represented on Trail. The trail magic and the mountain top experiences.

ALL of it brings me into a deeper, more transparent relationship with the Lord- both the treats and the trials.

Needless to say, I’m eager for the rest of the trail. More lessons to be learned!

After reaching halfway, I headed to the town of Chester! Chester was the closest town to the lake growing up, so the fam frequented the local ice cream shop (Pine Shack Frosty) alllll the time. It’s just the best, so you betcha it was my first stop in town. 


After downing some fried food and a coffee milkshake, I scooted over to the local Lutheran Church for some free camping. Shoutout to the Church for making hikers feels so welcome and at home, even if it’s just some backyard camping. That’s good stuff.
Day 93: Mi. 1328.8 to Mi. 1343.8


Town went quickly! PTL! I scooted along, resupplied in the AM, even made a few phone calls, and was on trail around noon. My hitch even had a dog, which is always a score.


Today’s goal was an easy 15 miles to the Lassen National Park Boundary. The park is now requiring bear cans for overnight camping, so PCT hikers make it a goal to do the entire park in one day. That will be my tomorrow! Hooray!

PS- it feels real nice to have the “To Canada” miles smaller than the “To Mexico.”
Day 94: Mi. 1343.8 to Mi. 1367.2


Home sweet Lassen.

Growing up, my family frequented Lassen Volcanic National Park. Its geology of boiling lakes, geysers, and, of course, the volcanic Mt. Lassen itself, seemed to create a bit of a wonderland.

My first time up Lassen Peak was in my mom’s womb. Seriously, she climbed the 10k’ volcano pregnant. It all makes sense now, right? My second attempt up the mountain wasn’t quite successful- I got big time sick. Little did young Andrew know… this was the beginning of a wonderful relationship with altitude sickness. Seriously, even last year I tossed my cookies on the 10k’ Mt. Crested Butte in Colorado. WEAK.

Shoutout to a slow and steady acclimation for getting me through the Sierra.

Anyway. Sickness and all, Lassen is my jam. Lots of memories here.

Last night I forgot to set an alarm (oops!), so I woke up to a bright and sunny 7:15am. I panicked at first (this is a pretty late wakeup for hikers), but decided to take a chill pill and enjoy my already slow morning. I made oatmeal (with a banana inside!!), snacked on some cheerios, listened to my favorite tunes, read a little bit, and finally started hiking around 8:10. That’s basically Hiker Noon. Oh well.

Today’s hike was easy breezy- relatively flat with some beautiful spots to hang. I stumbled across this boiling lake early on…. yikes. Wouldn’t want to go swimming there.


Annnnnd now for my favorite lunch spot. Lower Twin Lakes. This spot was bug-free and rocky, with the most perfect water temperature. Just cool enough to be refreshing, but still warm enough once you’re totally submerged and not catching a breeze. The DREAM.

I made it to the lake around 1:10, and rewarded my quick pace with a 1 hour 20 minute swim/lunch/nap. Again, the dream.

Post lunch was flat and uneventful. I ate some dinner at the Park Boundary (bye Lassen!), and scooted along to camp to be able to blog and read before bed. As much time as I have out here, the amount of time not eating, hiking, or sleeping is surprisingly pretty slim. Oh well! I was ever the best at time management. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 
Day 95: Mi. 1367.2 to Mi. 1394.


To say Hat Creek Rim was long and exhausting would be a dramatic understatement. And probably an insult to the Rim itself.

Back in the desert! Today started off nice and smooth. I was hiking by 7 (a rarity these days), and hit Subway Tunnel, a water source .5 miles off trail) just in time to fill up before hitting the Rim in the heat of the day.

The Rim towers over Hat Creek Valley, a massive expanse between Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta. The trail keeps elevation around its rim, jetting Northeast, before scooting closer and around Shasta.

Pretty much the entirety of today’s trail was exposed, dry, and HOT. With limited sources (and, admittedly, not-high-enough-volume water bottles in my pack), I rationed out 3 liters of water for a solid 12 miles. Not my best work.

Anyway, obviously I made it work (woohoo!), but not without a lot of daydreaming of ice water and a Coke slushee. I rolled up to water around 6:30pm, filled up, made dinner, and trekked the remaining 3.5 to camp.

Today wasn’t too fun. It was pretty miserable, actually. But MAN I’m thankful for it. It contrasts well with the wonderful days. And the tough days/miles are always so refining. So good.

Tomorrow I’m taking it slow (only 22.5 miles!), eating/resupplying, and camping at a real campground. Maybe I’ll score a picnic table!! TBD.

Days 80-87 (mi. 1090 to 1265.4)


Since leaving the Sierras, the trail has been fast and a whooooole lot less snowy. And as we creep toward Oregon, the trail has proven itself to be even more spectacular than I expected. Gosh I love this trail!!

Day 80: Hwy 50 (mi. 1090) to Mi. 1113.5



I left my Subway sandwich in the motel room!!!!! Boooo!!
That’s 90% of what I thought about today. So frustrating. I planned on eating it midway up today’s major Pass, but had to settle for peanut butter/salami tortilla wraps. Not a terrible alternative, but definitely not Turkey + American on Italian Herbs and Cheese with allllll the veggies.

1100 miles!

Something weird happened today. After lunch, I began hiking and almost passed out. Everything started spinning and I started to lose vision. After taking a quick break, I resumed hiking and all was good. I really wish my body could just tell me what’s going on all the time.

Last thing- today Gold Digger and Come Thou Fount came on my Spotify back-to-back. If that’s not an adequate representation of my life, I don’t know what is.
Day 81: Mi. 1113.5 to Squaw Valley Ski Lift (Mile 1140.5)


Today was a long day of hiking… 27! miles… snow, mtns, naps, etc. yadda yadda yadda.
BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, LOOK AT MY CAMPING SPOT!! 


I camped on a Black Diamond run right on the edge of a big drop here at Squaw Valley. And holy cow. Just look at it. There are views of Lake Tahoe to the southeast and a complete 360° heavenly vista. Wowowowow.



And then the sun set and I lost my mind. In hindsight, it reminds me of Simone Byles (yes, the Olympian). Remember her floor routine that was absolutely incredible and it had everyone in an a hypnotic state? And then she did her signature move at the end and everyone went from WOA to I CANT HANDLE THE EMOTIONS.
That’s what this sunset was like. 
Our God is so stinking creative and is incredibly intentional on the subject of light. He uses it to illuminate (duh, Andrew) things around us, but also parts of ourselves that we might not have put a light to. Exposure is so necessary. It’s where growth comes, ya know?

Anyway. This campsite is definitely #1. It beats everything.
Day 82: Squaw Valley Ski Lift (Mile 1140.5) to Mi. 1170.5


“Please not Pepsi. Please not Pepsi. please not Pep- yesss!!”

These were my thoughts around 1:45, as I reached my first break, a little reststop on I-80, after 17 miles of hiking.

A short walk from trail, the vending machines were something briefly mentioned in the guide books, along with flush toilets and water fountains. I had been dreaming about a fizzy Coke since yesterday, and this. was. my. moment. 

The machine was slim pickins- only five options left. I found the code for Coke and pressed it on.

“E-3,” I muttered as I pressed the keys.
“Out of stock.”



That’s funny. There are at least 6 bottles of Coke right there. My finger must’ve slipped.
“E-3.”
“Out of stock.”



Okayyyy, let’s try the Mellow-Yellow. I’ve never had one, but fizz is fizz.
“D-6,” I pressed in, reminded of a losing game of Battleship.
“Out of stock.”



Unsweet tea it is.
“A1”
Out of stock.”



My last options were water (lol- get that for free outside) and an expensive Starbucks Frapuccino drink.
Cheers, Starbucks.
“A-3.”

Vending
For some reason, this story felt important to share. I had knocked out a solid 17 miles before lunch, all with the mid-day reward of Coke and a restful place. In the end, there was no Coke but only a ton of muggles hopping in and out of their vehicles. There was a woman selling necklaces, and a family that looked to be in the middle of a family roadtrip fight. 

Classic.

Around 2:45, I set off to check off an additional 13 miles. But. Oh my goodness. The chafing is back and with a whole new edition (this is the 2nd time I’ve referred to my buttocks’ chafing as Slim Shady in my blogs. not sorry). Whimpering, I sat down on a log and took far more than the recommended dose of Advil, applied some anti-chafe stuff, and kept hauling. I ALMOST turned around to hitch into town and rest, but NOPE. For some reason my feet heading North. Dang feet.

The irritation didn’t suppress, but the pain wasn’t as blinding. Yay!

Today I passed well over a dozen SOBONOBOs. This is a term I coined for the people that reached the Sierra, bailed, flipped up North to NorCal or Oregon, and have started walking South. Southbound Northbounders. SOBONOBOs.

I recognized the 10th? one I passed as a hiker I hiked about 2 miles with on the 2nd day. Woa. But just down the trail, I crossed paths with Maria, a girl I’d really gotten to know on Night 1, but haven’t seen or heard of since.”
“Hey there!”

“Hi! Have a good on- OHMYGOSH!”

“Wait. ANDREW!!” 
I haven’t seen Maria in 2.5 months, just about 1200 miles ago. We caught up like we were besties, swapping stories about the few people we knew in common.

Here’s a test: remember Jordan? I hiked near him Day 1 and 2. He was hiking with his mom, Trudy? Maria told me Jordan pushed through the Sierras, but fell coming down Sonora Pass earlier this week. Jordan broke a leg and had to be helicoptered out. Holy smokes, poor guy.

Maria and I wished each other luck on the trail (she’s about to do the Sierras. wowzers. kindasortanotreally wish I were doing them too) and headed to finish our NOBO and SOBONOBO evenings.

Today was good. I bagged a 30 (first one in 500 miles!) and ate far too much candy. Now I will reward myself with water and a bit more Harry Potter before turning in. Also, I’m not setting an alarm. I hiked 30 miles today. I deserve it.
Day 83: Mi. 1170.5 to 1196.4


Today was 25 miles of walking downhill. Yep. How crazy is that?!?

The long descent didn’t take too long, and I ended up in the small town of Sierra City, with juuuuuust enough time to grab some snacks, some mail, and a 1lb burger with fries and a Coke.

While I stuffed my face with an alarming amount of food, I opened up my packages: 

-A new drybag for camera + charger packs (I lost mine coming down Sonora Pass)

-A brand. new. pair. of. shoes.

-A care package from my friend (and BV’s newest DJ) Maddie 

The shoes were gifted by a family friend (basically family) and WOW I’ve never been more excited for a pair of shoes. Mr. and Mrs. Mojica, thank you thank you. These kicks will be a continued a reminder of your support and encouragement in my life. Can’t wait to hike these next several hundred mikes together! 

Maddie, thank you for the goods. Especially the fidget spinner. This is friendship. This is community. Wow. Praise.

After dinner, I knew I would get sucked into the town vortex, so I skidaddled back up to the trail. Unfortunately, there was no place to camp (I immediately began a 10 mile hike back to elevation), so I made a little bivvy spot on the side of a switchback. TBD how well I sleep tonight.

PS- rereading the 5th Harry Potter now and DANG the difference between Book 2 and 5 are incredible. Character development, new themes, complicated plot….. SHOOT. This is my favorite. Also Deathly Hallows.
Day 84: Mi. 1196.4 to 1221.7


Haha last night I threw up 3 times. I’m not sure what it was (okay, definitely the 1lb burger), but my brain felt FRIED for the rest of the night and then majority of this morning.

With the bit of sickness from last night, I took today slow. Sure, I still managed to pull a 25+ mile day, but it was accompanied by many breaks to nap and drink water.

Hiking solo brings great moments of solitude and time to think. However, I’ve been getting reeeeeally caught up in my own mind lately. In seems the ole brain doesn’t want to slow down. It races endlessly. It wasn’t until today where I just gave my mind up to the Lord and begged Him to be constructive with it.

The mind is a dangerous place. It can create new (and uproot former) insecurities. It can lead you to laziness, as well as annoyance. But with discipline, it can be tamed!! This doesn’t really relate to the PCT at all, but that’s what today was all about. Disciplining the mind, and orienting the heart, towards God and not myself. Cranking miles despite throwing up. Rationing tortillas because I misread the quantity count.

That’s what it’s all about. 

Also, passed 1200 today! Weeeee!
Day 85: Mi. 1221.7 to mi. 1252.5 


Today I hiked 31 miles so that I can get to the pizza buffet when it opens tomorrow.

But it felt great!! It was tough at times…. and the last few miles seemed to crawl… but I rolled into camp just in time. Annnnnd guess who was at my tentsite?

Monk!!

Monk and I hiked a bit of the desert and Sierra together. Oh it was SO fun to see a familiar face. What a guy.
Day 86: Mi. 1252.5 to Quincy (mi. 1265.4)



Holy guacamole. After yesterday’s hike, I am in PAIN. And not just ouch-that-hurts-but-I’m-chill pain… but oh-no-this-might-take-me-off-trail pain. My achilles is pretty inflamed and my left foot just doesn’t look too great. I’m 90% sure I’ll have to Zero in Quincy to let it rest.
On the bright side, these high mile days got me to the pizza buffet JUST in time. All you can eat salad + pizza. That’s the hiker’s dream.

I’ll keep you updated on the ol’ heel. I really hope it’s aight.
Day 86: Zero in Quincy


I’m sick of zeros!!! I just wanna hike! Boo, ankle. Boooooooo. Also, laundry. Yuck.
Peace out until next time!

AG