When We Smashed Mountains

Mexico to Canada.

The night fell with bicycle bells, the dark had wooden teeth
Oh we broke on up to hill country, the air was thin and sweet
Lord, the air was thin and sweet

She held onto my coat that night, like a kid lost in her sleeves
Oh we warmed the ground, we hushed our sound
We slept on walking feet
Lord, we slept on walking feet

— “Living Proof” by Gregory Alan Isakov

In 2022, I had my 3rd major season on the PCT, hiking roughly 2,200 miles from Mexico to Ashland, Oregon; as well as the entire state of Washington. I had to punt Oregon for a future season on account of fires.

In 2018, I hiked the entire trail from Mexico to Canada, April 20th to September 29th.  163 days. This entailed 484,000 ft of ascent (92 miles up), and 483,000 ft. of descent (91 miles down).  A total of 2,650 miles.

The best part of the journey was the people I met. Here are a few of those magical moments.

I hitchhiked 76 times for resupplies. Lost 65 lbs. (29 kg) of body weight. My gear base weight was around 12.5 lbs. I wore through 4 pairs of shoes and 2 pairs of pants.

I encountered 3 black bears, 10 rattlesnakes, 1 tarantula, 0 cats and 0 scorpions. One million mosquitoes.

All told, the trail went through 6 ecozones, 48 wilderness areas, 60 mountain passes, 25 national forests, and 6 national parks.

Oh Darlin, pardon me
Can you help me remember
When we were all flying free
We were dust from our bodies
And we were flicker and flame, yeah we burned till the morning
Darlin, pardon me
But do I look familiar
When we were just larkspur and leaves
We were strung through the tether
And we were all silver and stone
We were the lust of the miners
Darlin, pardon me

— “Living Proof” by Gregory Alan Isakov

At the Southern Terminus, and 5.5 months later at the Northern Terminus.

I’m very appreciative of the numerous trail angels who lent their support and the friends who came to trail.

Lastly, if you have the time, these recent films do an excellent job sharing the experience of the trail:

It is the People, a beautiful 2019 film by New Zealander “TipTap”
She has an 11-part series on the trail here. I can’t give it enough praise.

More excellent films:
The Art of Walking
A Summer on the PCT
To Measure a Mile
Northbound on the PCT
4270 KM documentary


Here is a list of my current gear.
And here are several gear videos by other hikers which are excellent reference points if you’re beginning your research. I need a bit more warmth or comfort than most of them (my base weight is around 11 lbs), but they all have good ideas to chew on.
Paddles (In The Open Air)
John Zahorian
Alan Long

A couple of fun nerdy gear comparison spreadsheets:
Battery pack comparison
Quilt comparison
Backpack comparison (check out Zimmerbuilt under frameless tab)

I had a made a previous attempt in the 2015 season, where I tried to record daily entries.

Here are my final numbers for the 2015 season:
1500 miles (2400 km) in distance.
273,240 ft. elevation gain (83.3 km).
269,715 ft. elevation loss (82.2 km).
34 lbs. of weight loss! (15.4 kg)

2016 update: Last year was a great experience! If any of you are considering doing it, all I can say is do it, do it, DO IT!  I am slowly but surely working through my photos, processing them with Lightroom and trying to gradually polish my entries up.

I’ll be posting more in the days ahead about my brief excursion on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) in April 2016, and entries from this summer’s adventures! I managed to complete California this past August and drive my total trail mileage to over 2,000. It was another terrific season.

Day OverviewDateMilesTotal Miles:
Pre-Hike Preparations (2014)
2015 Gear
Day 1: A Special Toast at the Southern Terminus4/152020
Day 2: A Dry Hot Ascent4/1616.9 (+1.6)36.9
Day 3: Of Pine Cones and Drones4/1720.652.6
Day 4: Bocce ball, a siesta, and a very long hot descent4/1815.868.4
Day 5: An Insufferable Slogfest to Scissors Crossing4/19977
Day 6 & 7: Recharging at OxbowBurrito’s in Laguna Niguel4/20 & 4/21077
Day 8 & 9: Annual Day Zero Kickoff (ADZPCTKO)4/22 & 4/23077
Day 10: A Very Windy Ridge4/241491.1
Day 11: A Walk in the Clouds4/2518.5109.5
Day 12: In the Valley of Pink Boulders4/2618127
Day 13: The First Day of ‘Meh’4/2717 (+1)144
Day 14: Paradise Valley Cafe4/2819161
Day 15: Idyllwild4/2915176
Day 16: 8,000 ft descent from Fuller Ridge4/3019201
Day 17: Reached Highway 10 and Civilization5/15206
Day 18: A Zero in Big Bear5/20206
Day 19: More errands and a short walk to Ziggy’s5/34210
Day 20: In the Land of Windmills5/422 (+1)232
Day 21: A difficult ascent out of Mission Creek Canyon5/522253
Day 22: Freezing at 8,500 ft5/613266
Day 23: Respite at Big Bear Lake5/70266
Day 24: Spinning wheels in Big Bear Lake5/80266
Day 25: None Shall Pass5/920286
Day 26: A waterhole5/1020308
Day 27: Mojave Runoff Dam5/1120328
Day 28: BAM5/1219347
Day 29: Coyote and Wright Mountain5/1322369
Day 30: Awaiting the Snow5/140369
Day 31: The Storm is a comin’5/150369
Day 32: Summit Day5/1615384
Day 33: Cold night5/1719403
Day 34: Poodle Dog Day5/1827430
Day 35: the long descent5/1914444
Day 36: a hot stretch toward Agua Dulce5/2010454
Day 37: The big push to the Andersons5/2124 (+1)478
Day 38: A Hitch to Remember5/22??
Day 39: Into the Mojave5/23?542
Day 40: Tehachapi!5/2416558
Day 41: A Casual Day5/258566
Day 42: Stashing Water in the Desert5/260566
Day 43: It Gets Real Today5/2727593
Day 44: More fun in the sun5/2823616
Day 45: The Desert’s Last Kiss5/2922638
Day 46: Walker Pass Extraction5/3013651
Day 47-48: Double Zero5/31 & 6/10651
Day 49: The Final Push to Kennedy Meadows6/225677
Day 50: Goal #1 Completed! Mexico to the High Sierra6/326.5702
Day 51: A Half-day at Kennedy Meadows6/43705
Day 52: Kern River Day6/520?725
Day 53: Day 2 of the High Sierra6/620745
Day 54: Preparing for Whitney6/721 (+1.2)766
Day 55: An on-trail nero6/88 (+2)774
Day 56: Forester Pass & Kearsarge Pass6/916 (+5)788
Day 57: A zero in Bishop6/100788
Day 58: a second Zero in Bishop6/110788
Day 59: A triple zero, what?!6/120788
Day 60: Time to get back to work6/13(5) +2790
Day 61: Glen Pass6/1410800
Day 62: Pinchot Pass6/1511811
Day 63: Mather Pass6/1615826
Day 64: Muir Pass6/1719.5845.5
Day 65: Selden Pass6/1822.5868
Day 66: Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR)6/1911 (+6)878
Day 67: Silver Pass6/2013 (+2)891
Day 68: Red’s Meadow6/2117906
Day 69: Birthdays in Mammoth6/220906
Day 70: A 2nd Day of Recharging6/230906
Day 71: Headed to Tuolumne Meadows6/2414920
Day 72: Donahue Pass6/2522942
Day 73: Yosemite Valley6/260942
Day 74: An Unexpected 2nd Day of Rest6/270942
Day 75: Glen Aulin6/2820962
Day 76: Benson Pass and Seavey Pass6/2920982
Day 77: Mile 1000!6/30211003
Day 78: Sonora Pass7/1141017
Day 79: A Long Series of Hitches7/201017
Day 80: Sierra City7/1481024
Day 81: the Milky Way and Guns7/15271051
Day 82: Back in the Saddle7/16211072
Day 83: An Unexpected Stay at Buck Lake7/1711?1083
Day 84: Belden7/18201103
Day 85: We raved! We were raving!7/1961109
Day 86: Tough climb out of Belden7/20151124
Day 87: Farther than Cheryl7/21241148
Day 88: Drakesbad7/22181166
Day 89: Old Station7/23241190
Day 90: Hat Creek Rim7/24231213
Day 91: Burney7/25151228
Day 92: A Zero in Burney7/2601228
Day 93: Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…7/27161244
Day 94: Hot Hot Hot!7/28241268
Day 95: Hotter, hotter, hotter!7/2926.21294
Day 96: We’re in the Cascades!7/3025 (+1)1319
Day 97: HALF WAY, YEAH BABY!7/3161325
Day 98: Back in the Saddle Again8/9191344
Day 99: Every Way But North8/10231367
Day 100: Oh Oregon, Where Art Thou?8/11221389
Day 101: Farther than I-5!8/1226 (+.2)1415
Day 102: Etna8/13201435
Day 103: We Got This8/14241458
Day 104: Seiad Valley8/15171475
Off-trail for now8/16(+25)1500
More photos and videos to share!8/171500
Where are they now?8/181500
Recon’s Crowning Glory!8/191500
Photos old and new8/201500
The Best of Times8/211500
My 2015 PCT Journey8/221500
2016CDT miles
Off-season Hiking2/22 & 3/12
Day 0: Albuquerque to Lordsburg4/10
Day 1: Heisenberg's Stomping Grounds4/111414
Day 2: The Hail, the Hail4/121832
Day 3: A Bike in the Incessant Sun4/132153
Day 4: Hiding from Hades4/141871
Day 5: Redemption, ye Golden Arches4/1513.584.5
Day 6: A Zero in Lordsburg4/16084.5
Day 7: Another Zero4/17084.5
Day 8: Desert Sky4/1818.5103
Day 9: A Siesta and a Night Hike4/1919122
Day 10: A Roadwalk to Remember4/2013?Silver City
Day 11: Dirtbags in the Marketsquare4/210Silver City
Day 12: Silver City4/220Silver City
Day 13: Fields of Gold4/2317
Day 14: The Middle Fork of the Gila River4/24??
Day 15: Oh, Doc! The resident hypocrite4/25?Doc Campbell's
PCT miles
Eagle Creek revisited5/14-5/15
Day 105: Dusting off the cobwebs at Tahoe6/28101510
Day 106: Ordnance and Snowfields6/29191529
Day 107: Ebbetts Pass and the Dregs of Humanity6/30191548
Day 108: Mosquito Fodder and Sweeping Vistas7/1161564
Day 109: A Final Push to Sonora Pass7/2111575
Day 110: Northward now from Echo Lake7/391584
Day 111: Dicks Pass7/4241608
Day 112: Mr. Google and Squaw Valley7/5191627
Day 113: Truckee and the Peter Grubb Hut7/6171644
Day 114: Unconformity Spring7/7241668
Day 115: Sierra City Redux7/816 (+1.5)1683
Mt. Si with Undertaker7/17
Day 116: Ascent from Seiad Valley8/815 (+4)1698
Day 117: Farewell, California!8/9231721
Day 118: A Humble Arrival to Callahan's8/1018?1739
Resting in Ashland8/11
Day 119: Crest Horse Camp8/2081747
Day 120: Trout Lake8/21131760
Day 121: On the Cusp of Adams8/22161776
Day 122: Undertaking a Marathon8/2326.21802
Day 123: The Knife's Edge8/24191821
Day 124: White Pass8/2515 (+2.4)1836
Day 125: Timberline Lodge9/3171853
Day 126: The Bridge of the Gods9/4291882
Day 127: Descent to Callahan's8/15111893
Day 128: A Lonely Ascent8/1621.51915
Day 129: Lava Rocks8/1723.51938
Day 130: A Day of Thirst8/18221960
Day 131: A Burned Forest and a Trail Divided8/19221982
Day 132: Road walk to Mazama8/2013?1995