This post has been months in the making but figured I should update my legions of fans on my adventure home and what I’ve been up to since getting off the PCT.
I left Seattle on August 26th and began to slowly make my way back home. My friend Jenn picked me up in the city and we drove to Yakima where she lives. On the way we stopped in Leavenworth, WA a Bavarian style little tourist trap of a town. Then, because I was in charge of navigation, we went the wrong way and ended up in Wenatchee. No big deal.
Yakima was enjoyable, I stayed there for a night and my short term plan was to get to Cascade Locks for PCT Days, a little festival/reunion with a bunch of hikers. I decided to hitch and after not having much luck with a ride out of Yakima I walked to the next town Union Gap. It took all day but I ended up getting 3 rides and doing a little road walking but got to Cascade Locks on the 27th.
I’m really glad I went to this little festival. I didn’t know anything about it until just a couple days before so I hadn’t planned on going at all. Lots of hikers were getting into Cascade Locks during the course of the weekend and others who were either behind or ahead found ways to get there. It was awesome to see so many people that I had met earlier in the trail that I hadn’t seen in hundreds or in some cases thousands of miles.
I spent a few days here and hemmed and hawed about trying to wait out the fires and possibly getting back on trail on the section I had to skip. In the end I decided I’m moving on. The 2015 edition of the PCT was over for me, I did what I could do when I could do it and the Northern Cascades will be there. Someday I’ll go back and walk through them. The incomplete section will gnaw at me for sure until I get back out to the NorthWest.
Without much of a plan except to eventually make my way back home, I started hitching East. Hitchhiking across the country might sound ludicrous or dangerous or just stupid to most people but I think it’s a pretty unique way to travel. I wish it was more socially acceptable. While I was on trail, hitching in and out of town is completely normal and is considered common practice among the hikers. So I had been pretty accustomed to it.
I got a ride right out of Cascade Locks and then just kept going for awhile. In 4 days I got 19 rides and made it from Cascade Locks, OR to Kansas City, MO for a total of 1750 miles. Besides just a few long waits I usually got picked up in about 10 minutes or less. And yeah I met a few crazies, that’s for sure, but I never felt like I was in any danger. Most of the time people just liked to tell me a bunch of stories, which was fine by me. I met some great people too.
Some of my better hitches included: Mike the hunter in Oregon who taught me all about elk and how to kill them. Misty the trucker who told me all about her life growing up in the bush in Alaska. She drove me from outside Boise all the way to Salt Lake. Pat the asst. principal, gave me a guided tour through beautiful Glenwood Canyon in Western Colorado. Jere, the player piano rebuilder, drove me literally from the mountains to the prairie and even brought me about 25 miles further along than he was going. Paula, a mother of 5 coming off a fresh stint working and living in Glacier NP, rerouted her trip on my request and drove me about 150 miles.
I didn’t get involved in any side adventures while I was traveling. As much as I had hoped, nobody picked me up and was like, “hey we’re going to explore some canyons in Utah or raft down the Colorado River and we need one more person.” I did however stop and visit a few friends. The Easter Eggs hosted me in Salt Lake City and it was a great stop. This was a couple I hiked with in the desert and hadn’t seen since early June. Mr. Egg cooked me arepas, and Mrs. Egg drove me to Provo, UT to help me along my way.
In Colby, KS I stopped for a quick visit to see my hiking partner Schemes before she headed West for school. After waiting for about 3 hours this guy Fred gave me a ride all the way across Kansas to Kansas City, Missouri. I was exhausted and I guess at this point I talked myself out of hitching the rest of the way. When I got to KC I spent the night in the airport and got a cheap flight to Boston the next morning.
I spent my first day home at the registry waiting about 4 hours for my number to be called. Going to the registry was a horrible decision. The following day my mother drove me out to Western Mass where we hiked Mt Greylock(Massachusetts high point for those of you keeping track) and then I headed North on the AT with my backpack and no definite plans. Hiking the AT was very different. For starters I was solo and I used much of the time In my head thinking about and reflecting on the incredible summer I just had out West.
Without really paying attention I crushed some big miles and got through Vermont in 6 days. On the Vermont New Hampshire border is the town of Hanover, NH where I caught up with my friend Queen B from the PCT. She got off trail out West and came back to the AT to finish what she started last year. It was really cool to see her and we got put up by a couple of trail angels in NH(Karen and Jon).
From Hanover I took a bus to Boston, then a train, car, and boat ride to Inner Heron Island off the Maine Coast. It was great, I spent the weekend relaxing with friends in a cabin on this tiny island. Then I went home. For the next couple weeks I enjoyed the end of a hot New England summer. I rode my bike, went swimming, surfing, running, golfing and hiking up in the Whites in NH. My very last weekend before returning to work I celebrated the Willis-Murray nuptials with family in Providence. It was so much fun.
Since then I’ve been super busy. Working a lot and also enjoying my time between adventures. The post trail adjustment wasn’t the most fun but I expected that. It really wasn’t all that bad either, I’ve got a nice little life here.
Throughout the fall I did a bunch of hiking in the White Mountains and finished NH’s 48 4000 footers. I also have been swimming and running a bunch since I’ve been home. My father was training for Ipswich’s Stonecat trail marathon in November, so I decided to run the 50 miler that day. I didn’t want to be out done by a sixty something year old man with a fake hip. Ski season is upon us here in the Northeast, and I’m wicked excited about that, but it’s off to a slow start. Maybe I’ll have to make a ski trip out West, it seems that’s where all the snow is going this winter. Oh yeah I shaved my hair, beard, and mustache in stages. I’ve gone with a lot of different looks this year and I apologize if you’ve had trouble recognizing me. Sorry, I’m not sorry.
Lots of people have asked me what I’m going to do next and as much as I appreciate the enthusiasm I always think of that line from Napoleon Dynamite when the kid says, “What are you gonna do next Napoleon?” I like to answer that question with a question, “What are you gonna do next?” For real though I don’t know,if you have any suggestions I’m all ears. Until then I guess just stay tuned. Follow me on Instagram if you want @endlesspsummer.