PCT Trekker Brings Home the People

I’ll admit that I am addicted to distance-trekking books, not because I have written a couple of them, but because good ones make me feel like I am back on the trail.

Rick Rogers’ Walking Home brought the Pacific Crest Trail to life like no other account I have read. It is more about the people than the 2,650-mile trail from Mexico to Canada. Rogers’ insights and descriptions about his fellow thru-hikers and himself are entertaining, insightful, and chuckle-worthy.

In his mid-60s, he begins his journey with a pen pal whom he had not met and ends in his home state of Washington with his son, a third-grader. Along the way he meets a plethora of personalities that keep the book moving along at a mostly fast pace. He avoids some people and eagerly walks with others, cleverly and bluntly giving the reasons for his choices.

A former climbing instructor, his gear choices are questionable, even poor. He finds his only pair of shorts at WalMart and he knows they are made for women, but buys them anyway, leading to some funny situations that made me laugh. Maybe I even laughed at him because he should have known better.

Along the way, Rogers sprinkles instructive words of wisdom about backpacking, walking, and choices in people. Traveling in 2018, he encounters so much snow in California’s Sierra Nevada that he has to skip north and reverse direction—a flip—to avoid disaster. He then drives a rental car to Oregon to pick up where he left off.

There were times I would have liked more observations about the PCT, but in the end, Rick Rogers made me feel like those who walked with him were better for knowing him, but they may not have realized it until they returned home.

A Peek at Life on the Appalachian Trail

Our six miles on the Appalachian Trail during our tour of Virginia stirred affection and respect for one of the world’s great long-distance paths. In Shenandoah National Park, we entered the AT at the Thornton Gap trailhead parking lot.

The trail led us over a mostly rocky surface with more than 1,700 feet of climbing. We took a quick detour to Mary’s Rock, where Sue took in the view, then we continued southbound to the Bird’s Nest #3 Shelter, one of more than 250 shelters spread over the AT’s 2,190 miles. In order to sleep in the huts, campers must be traveling at least three consecutive days on the AT. The Bird’s Nest featured a rock fireplace, wooden sleeping platform, a nearby privy as well as a bear box and hanger poles to keep food safe. Thru hikers must use the shelter unless it is full, when they may use designated campsites nearby. I ate my lunch while sitting on the platform and imagined the hut filled with sleeping bags and trekkers. I could almost hear the snoring and smell the trail grime.

The higher we went, the less spring we witnessed as the season had delayed its arrival. We passed six or seven northbound thru hikers, who all traveled solo and appeared to be in their 20s. I resisted asking where they started and where their destination was. They all were in a hurry since a storm was moving in, but they took the time for a brief friendly greeting. I wished I had brought along some trail magic (beers?) to hand off as they passed.