Endless P Summer

If you just want to read about the race itself feel free to scroll through all this other stuff, I won’t be offended.

I’ve been wanting to take a shot at a hundred miler for awhile now. I guess ever since I started running and heard that hundreds were a thing that people do. It seemed so far out of reach, but like everything it’s all relative. When I started running, even 10 miles seemed unattainable. Now, after years of running, I knew that if I could wrap my head around it, a hundred miles was a possibility. It would only be like running from Lynn to Ossippee.

Also the time was now. For the last few years I spent most of my summers thru hiking and although I guess I was building up endurance, I felt that hiking took precedence over training to run a long race. This year was different. I was running well through the fall and had no immediate thru hikes coming up so I had enough time to put in some decent mileage over the winter.

Leading up to the race I ran a 50 miler in October and another one in November. I registered to run Zion in early December. From then until March I was doing 50-60 miles a week, regrettably mostly on the treadmill with some on pavement and not as many as I’d have liked on trail. In early March I developed a shin splint in my left leg and convinced myself it was a stress fracture. So I rested. I rode a bike and got on the stair master to keep my legs busy but I stopped running. Besides a 6 hour race in mid March that I took very easily, I didn’t run at all for the last 5-6 weeks going into Zion. I also had a head cold that whipped my ass for about 3 weeks during that same spell.

Race day I was ready though. My cold was gone, my shin felt good(I wore a compression sleeve on it just in case), and I had been sleeping well the week leading up to the race. No excuses. I had confidence in my crew and pacers and all that was left was to do the damn thing.

Sara and my parents came out to Utah with me and for the couple days beforehand and we did some nice easy hiking around Zion NP and tented at night. I usually sleep better in a tent than a bed anyway so I got some decent rest. We spent the night before the race camping at Zion River Resort(campground) a mile from the start so at 5:30 am it was a short drive for them to drop me off.

At 6am, after a quick talking to, we were off. All the 100 milers and 100K runners starting at once through the dark. Something like 500 runners with headlamps through a neighborhood where one of the houses was blasting Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’(I requested ‘Radio Gaga’ but they either didn’t have that or didn’t hear me). The course took us out onto rt 9 for a mile, where we ran by my crew who were watching from the campground. Across the street in a field next to the road, there was about 40 horses running alongside the runners. They probably wait all year for this. From Rt 9 we took a right onto a dirt road and followed that for a relatively flat 3 miles until we got to the bottom of a massive 1 mile 1500 foot climb to the top of Gooseberry Mesa. This was to be the biggest climb of the course and the timing was perfect, everybody was still jacked up, the sun was coming up and although we were all right on top of each other there was still enough room to pass or get out of the way if necessary. I loved it. At the top was the first aid station, Goosebump Aid(5.2). I shoveled some food in quickly and packed a few Oreos to go.Let’s Party! From Goosebump it was about 6 miles of dirt roads to Grafton Mesa Aid(11.4). This was the first crew access aid station and it was jam packed with spectators and fans and stuff, including my own which was nice. I ate good here, reloaded my fluids then carried on a couple miles downhill on dirt roads to Wire Mesa(13.3). There was an aid station here that we would hit twice so even though it came up quick I did my best to eat something and also pack my pockets with snacks. My plan was to eat as much as I could throughout the race(that’s actually my plan for regular life too) and so far I was executing. From our first stop at Wire Mesa Aid, the course went out on a really nice 7+ mile single track loop along the edge of Wire Mesa. It was very runnable and there were some spectacular views of Zion along this section.

When I got back to Wire Mesa Aid(20.8) I ate a handful of bacon and had a memorable avacodo and mayo wrap. The course went back on the dirt roads to our second stop at Grafton Aid(22.8), uphill this time. For the beginning of this race I kept myself entertained talking with and meeting people from all over the place. It was fun seeing runners I met throughout the day and into the night at different points of the race. At Grafton Aid my crew was waiting for me and this was the first point that pacers were allowed out on the course. My mom, even though she thought she retired from running 5 years ago, joined me for a 6 mile loop out and around Grafton Mesa. This loop was a nice combination of slick rock and single track, it had some killer views, was very runnable, and having my mom with me was a pleasant distraction to the accumulating miles. When we got back to Grafton Aid(28.2) I ate a bunch of food and said goodbye to my crew as it was the last time I’d see my them for about 25 miles/6 hours. The next section was fairly boring. It was on dirt roads with what seemed like a lot of uphill(which I was mostly walking) and the field of runners had really thinned out.

Once I got back to Goosebump Aid(34.4) I loaded up and started out onto an 11 mile loop on Gooseberry Mesa. Now this was tough. There was a lot of slick rock which was difficult to navigate and slow for running. It was awesome though and included what I thought was the highlight of the course; a huge slab of rock around mile 39 that went out and back like a peninsula high up over the desert. It was rad. I let out a good scream on what seemed like the edge of the world. A few miles later we got to Gooseberry Aid(42) and I had the most delicious orange slices I’ve ever had in my life. So refreshing, especially since it was starting to get warm up on the mesa. From Gooseberry Aid back to our third stop at Goosebump(45.7) it was mostly slick rock and single track, difficult but relatively enjoyable.

I loaded up at Goosebump Aid and began the 1500 foot descent off of the mesa. This was the downhill version of a climb that I enjoyed so much 40 miles ago. This time it kind of sucked. I knew it would though, and I also knew it wouldn’t last long. Plus I lost a water bottle at some point, or it fell out while I was on the hopper at the last aid station. Don’t worry, I had 3 other ones and judging by my relatively clear pee I was doing a good job staying hydrated. Back on the desert floor the course followed a bunch of rolling jeep roads and was decent for moving along. Although I took the descent nice and slow I was feeling good and moving well back down low and the miles seemed to be clicking away.

At Virgin Desert Aid(53.8) my family was waiting for me and my dad would be joining me for the next 13 miles. We ran the next section single file through the desert with him just behind me. Running in front of him was strategic since I just unloaded my sunglasses and I didn’t want his fish belly calves to burn my retinas. We ran through the golden hour and then the sunset alongside a canyon on some absolutely beautiful trail. I had to make a movement during this section but my quads were screaming and I really didn’t want to squat in the desert. We made it to Virgin Dam Aid(62.5), I took care of business and my dad BS’ed with some friends he made earlier in the day. I think I was starting to lose my appetite at this point and only drank some broth and ate a couple cookies.

From Virgin Dam we had about 4 miles of runnable but rocky trail alongside a canyon in the dark. We were wearing headlamps and even though I gave him explicit instructions not to fall, he still ate shit hard with about a mile to go. Miraculously, he bounced right off his fake hip, got up and we booted downhill for another mile. Besides him falling, and me losing my appetite, we had an an awesome section. Making good time and enjoying some good trail. Sara and my mom met up with us at a prearranged meeting spot around mile 66.3. My dad was relieved of his pacing duties and Sara would be joining me the rest of the way. We crossed Rt 9 and started a long slog uphill for about 4 miles on dirt road to the top of Smith Mesa(70.7). I liked the climb, as I like climbing, and it gave me good reason not to run, but I was definitely starting to feel more nauseous. At the aid station it seemed a little barren, a runner there was really cold and as they were looking around for an emergency blanket for him it reminded me I should probably add a layer. I drank some broth and some ginger ale, was able to stomach a gel and got moving. There were fire pits and chairs at all the aid stations from here on out but as inviting as they looked Sara had a pretty firm rule about staying away from them. Good move, they sure looked tough to walk away from.

Up on Smith Mesa the trail got really tough. We went out onto this big loop that was super difficult to navigate. Less than a mile in we crossed paths with two runners coming back towards us, convinced that they weren’t going the right way. After consulting our phones we decided we were going the right way and continued on. If the trail wasn’t all rocky it was beat down by cows and and the footing was terrible. Even on the flat sections. Toward the end of the loop we we took a wrong turn up a wash were we immediate bumped into 10+ other runners who had made that same wrong turn. We got back on track and just had a long downhill to the next aid station. This proved to be the most difficult mile or so of the whole course. It was super steep, rocky and slow going. At one point there was even a rope to assist runners going downhill. I felt like crying(but I didn’t). Finally we got to BMX Aid(79.9) where my parents were waiting for us around 2:30 am. As glad as I was to be there, this was a relatively low point for me. I was struggling and still had 20 miles left, or ‘only’ had 20 miles left. I knew I’d get through the race but it wasn’t going to be easy. On our way out from the aid station my parents wished me happy birthday as I turned 37 overnight. Oh yeah.

We’d be back at BMX Aid right before the end of the race but for now we had a 5 mile uphill to Guacamole Mesa. After crossing a river and doing a short single track section we had a long uphill climb on dirt road. At this point I was hallucinating. Not in a scary way, things were good and I knew what was going on, but I was definitely seeing stuff. We also saw a ton of shooting stars, and what’s better than that? It was tough, but we had positive attitudes and were making relentless forward progress. The guys at Guacamole Aid(85.7) were great and one of the volunteers was from Malden so of course he recognized my accent right away. We had a 7 mile loop out on Guacamole Aid that we didn’t set any records on. Sara as usual was the chief navigator and did an excellent job getting us around the course. The footing was tricky with a lot of slick rock so we took our time and just kept moving forward.

By the time we were back at Guacamole Aid(92.5) the sun was starting to come up and finally we were able to get rid of our headlamps. The long downhill road was unrunnable for me as my quads were screaming with every step, but we were moving along. Sara kept the spirits up playing music and singing, and pointing out faces she was seeing in the rocks. This was a really fun section and I knew we were about to get through this thing. It was almost over, the sun was out, and I was getting birthday and good luck messages that kept me going. We got off the road, crushed a short uphill section, crossed the river again then were back at BMX Aid(98.3). I only stopped here briefly to drop some clothes and my vest with my parents as it was only a short ways to the finish.

The last mile and a half or so was on dirt roads until we crossed back over rt 9 then ran it into the finish. There was a half marathon and 50k going on at the same time so there was a big crowd gathered at the finish line. Crossing the line was glorious. I picked out a belt buckle, sat down, drank a soda, took my shoes off and just chilled in the sunshine for awhile. Done. Onto the next thing.

I took a nap that afternoon and an ice bath that worked wonders. The next morning I was up walking around and checking out the sunrise at Bryce Canyon NP. We spent the day exploring at Bryce and walking around the best I could.

From Bryce we made our way to Escalante and got another hotel for the night. I took an ice bath again that night and when I woke up the following morning, 2 days out from finishing the race. I was feeling really good. The four of us backpacked down into Coyote Gulch and spent a night tenting by the spectacular Jacob Hamblin Arch. We hiked out the following day, and made the long drive back to Nevada where we camped near Lake Mead. In Nevada we spent the day hiking all over Valley of Fire State Park. This place is very cool! Well worth checking out. From Vegas we took a budget airline red eye back to Boston and of course didn’t sleep. Seriously though onto the next thing. Happy Easter!

feel free to follow on insta for more pictures @endlesspsummer

Oct 7 Auburn, CA

I woke up in the middle of the night and my legs didn’t hurt too bad. I laid comfortably in the hotel bed for awhile then I got up to walk to the bathroom. Once I stood up my legs felt like they were put through a garbage disposal. I hobbled around a bit and made it back to the bed to sleep for a few more hours before I was up for good.

Today would be a rest day. Sara was in the same boat. We both needed rest but also had to at least walk around and do the best we could to stretch the muscles in our legs. We got breakfast in Hayward then started making our way east to Sacramento. There’s this little tourist trap section of the state capital called Old Sac. They have old buildings, a railroad museum, a bunch of T-shirt shops, and people walking around vaping(that’s not part of the allure, I just saw a lot of vapers).

After a lap or 2 we were done there and drove further east to do the same thing in Nevada City and Grass Valley. These are both similar little towns with old buildings made famous during the days of the California Gold Rush.

Tonight we’re staying in Auburn, CA with our friend S+M who I hiked a lot of miles with in 2015 and some more miles in 2016. I hadn’t seen her in a couple years and in that time she joined the peace corps and did a year and a half in a small village in the West African country of Guinea. She told us some crazy stories of her time in Africa, dodging riots in the capital, wild moto trips through the rice paddies, village life in a foreign land and her more recent trip to Malaysia and Singapore with her Guinean boyfriend, Siradio.

Great to see her and also to get some more rest in a real bed, hopefully my legs will be back to regular strength in another day or two.

Oct 8 Tahoe Meadow Trailhead, NV

S+M lives in a house with her landlord Bill and his wife Debbie who split their time between Auburn and Cupertino in the Bay Area. The last time I saw them was 3 years ago when I stayed at this house while hiking PCT. They’re here for the week, so we all had coffee this morning before going our own ways for the day.

Sara and I went into town to run some errands for our upcoming hike on the Tahoe Rim Trail(that’s the plan anyway). We resupplied in Auburn, got our gear and clothes squared away then headed to Truckee to get permits from the ranger station. Too bad I didn’t realize it was Columbus Day until it was too late. The ranger station is closed as well as the PO which I was hoping to use, no big deal.

We spent the rest of the day just relaxing in a coffee shop and resting these legs. It would have been nice to get started on the trail tonight but we both needed another day of just going easy. We parked at the Tahoe Meadows Trailhead right over the state line in Nevada and spending the night here in the car. We’ll start the Tahoe Rim Trail in the morning.

Oct 7 TRT mile 29.2

The Tahoe Rim Trail is a National scenic trail that forms a 170 mile loop around Lake Tahoe. I’ve done about zero research on this so I can’t really give you any more facts since I don’t know what I should expect. I have done the western side of the trail before because it coincides with the PCT for awhile but I don’t remember specifics. Let me try to paint this picture though; if the loop was a clock we started between the 12-1 and are traveling clockwise around the lake.

Last night was a cold one in the car. We woke up to frost on the windows and the car thermometer said 29 degrees. Because of this I added my sleeping bag liner to my kit, kind of wished I had that thing during the Sierra High Route. Once we started walking, the trail was pretty cruiser. A nice easy grade through pine trees and big granite boulders. It warmed up in the sun but not substantially and because we were in and out of a cloud for most of the morning I was off and on with my jacket a handful of times. It was smooth sailing all day except for a detour around a heli-logging operation. So we had to deal with the noise of a chopper chopping and walk 6 or 7 miles on dirt road. No. If deal though, the aspens along the road were bright yellow and we had no choice but to leaf peep all along the detour.

This afternoon back on trail it got super windy. We walked along an exposed ridge for awhile and got awesome views of Lake Tahoe but it was a lot more comfortable once we got lower and into the trees again. Tonight the wind died down and we found a nice cozy site surrounded by trees on a bed of pine needles. It’s chilly out but as of right now I’m super comfortable in my sleeping with the additional fleece liner.

Oct 10 TRT 31.9 miles

We got an earlier than usual start this morning and just crushed all day. It was a rather uneventful day, all we did was walk big miles. So far I’ve been enjoying this trail. There hasn’t been anything that’s been spectacularly mind blowing, it’s just been really really nice. And super cruiser trail. It’s especially nice to be able to walk all day and accomplish bigger miles opposed to on the Sierra High Route last week where we’d walk all day and wouldn’t have as much distance to show for it (not knocking the SHR though, that Route was absolutely incredible and gave a different feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day).

We did see a fox today, that was cool. Sara said it was a grey fox which I guess are far more elusive but I’m not 100% it wasn’t a little red. It was at a bit of a distance. Decidedly it was a grey fox. And we crossed state borders which is always a big deal on a hike, maybe not so much on this trail as it goes through 2 states in 170 miles, but still cool.

We got to RT 89 near Big Meadow and got a hitch from a hunter, Nathan, into South Lake Tahoe. We quickly wolfed down some fast food and took a city bus to Stateline just back over the border in Nevada where we’ll stay for the night. It’s only been 2 days on trail but spending a night here just made sense. We got a room at the Hard Rock Casino for next to nothing and we’ll resupply in town tomorrow for the rest of the Loop. Plus, right as we were getting into town it started to rain.

Oct 11 Spencer Hot Springs, NV

Shortly after waking up we decided to scrap the Tahoe Rim Trail and start making our way east. We’ve both been feeling a little beat up from the run last week and 4 more 30 mile days wouldn’t be doing our feet any favors. Also this way we’ll have more time to enjoy our ride back east instead of just driving more or less straight home. Don’t get me wrong, the Tahoe Rim Trail is sweet and not only do I recommend it, I’ll probably come back here and do the whole thing or at least complete the sections between what we did here last week and the PCT.

Around 9 AM we walked out of the Hard Rock and to the edge of town before we got our first hitch up the lake. We had a very enjoyable ride with Tori, a Seattle transplant to the area, who drove us about 45 minutes then quickly got two hitches from Victor and Demaris and were back at Tahoe Meadow trailhead and the car.

It was cold this morning! Like 30 degrees at the car. From Tahoe Meadow we started driving east with quick stops in Reno then Fernley, NV to run some errands and gear up for Highway 50, “The Loneliest Road in America.” At least that’s how they bill Highway 50 through Nevada. It really wasn’t all that lonely, Sara and I had each other. And it was awesome! We drove through a big empty sagebrush desert for over a hundred miles with massive mountains in the distance before we reached the next town, Austin. There seemed to be absolutely nothing for the hundred+ miles between the tiny towns of Fallon and Austin except for a roadside pull off to the ‘Shoe Tree.’ This is a big old cottonwood with hundreds if not thousands of old shoes thrown up into it. It was quite a sight, smelled like feet though.

About a half hour after Austin we took a dirt road 10 minutes into the middle of the desert and found Spencer Hot Springs. What an awesome spot! The pool we went in was the perfect temperature, a litttle mucky on the bottom, and big enough for at least a dozen people comfortably. We spent a few hours relaxing in the spring and watched the sunset over the snow capped Toiyabe Mountains and then an absolutely incredibly starry sky take over the sky. The stars were twinkling. I don’t remember ever seeing stars twinkle like that, and there were lots of shooters. Quite an evening soaking in a hot spring in the middle of the desert and looking at the Milky Way, pretending I can spot constellations, and watching shooting stars while listening to the wild donkeys communicate with each other nearby. There were others here but with plenty of parking and camping in the area we got a good spot and crashed out in the car for the night.

Oct 12 Murray, UT

Sleeping was cold last night! I mean not too cold, we were comfortable enough in the car and everything. Luckily we were parked right next to a hot spring so right away I was able to soak in some hot water this morning.

We left Spencer Hot Springs which are in the geographical dead center of the state of Nevada and began driving east along Highway 50. Still ‘The Loneliest Road in America.’ It was nice and stuff, we went through a couple tiny towns and by early afternoon we got into Utah and onto interstate 80. It was cool to drive through the salt flats and in the distance we could see the snow capped Uinta Mountain Range. Then drove through Salt Lake City and just got a quick look at the famous Mormon Temple.

We’ve got friends, ‘The Eggs’, in Murray, UT just south of SLC and they put us up for the night. Johnny and Karla or Mr. and Mrs. Egg hiked a bunch of the PCT in ‘15 and wore matching pastel hiking gear earning their names (short for ‘The Easter Eggs’). I walked through a lot of the desert in Southern California with these two when we were all cutting our chops in the thruhiking world and none of us knew what we were doing. I haven’t seen them since the fall of ‘15, the last time I stayed here, when I unsuccessfully tried to hitchhike across the US. Great to see both of them and catch up with each other’s lives and of course to look back on all the fun we had in the desert that year.

Oct 13 Fort Collins, CO

Johnny cooked us sourdough pancakes this morning and we enjoyed breakfast with the Eggs before leaving Salt Lake. Heading east from the city we drove I-80 through the mountains and the ski resorts looked as if they had enough snow to be open. Crazy, right? Eventually we got into Wyoming and drove through relatively boring terrain. It would have been nice to get out and go for a run somewhere but it was cold and windy all day. Plus there didn’t seem to be any good trails nearby, mostly desert.

We crossed the Continental Divide and the town of sp’Rawlins where we stayed last summer while walking the CDT. We then took a detour to another CDT trail town, Saratoga, and enjoyed the Hobo Hot Springs there. These are some really nice pools, they’re built up like resort style but open to the public. It was fun to lay down in the cold water of the North Platte River then hustle back into the hot water and feel tingly all over. Try this out if you’re ever at the Hobo Hot Springs in 30 degree weather.

From Saratoga we drove RT 130 through Medicine Bow National Forest during a legit snowstorm. Didn’t expect this, being mid October and everything, but Sara was driving and took it nice and slow until we dropped lower and were out of harm’s way.

We got into Fort Collins, CO tonight and are staying here with our friends BK and Prickly Pear.

Oct 14 Fort Collins, CO

Winter came early overnight here in FoCo and we had ourselves a nice little snow day with BK and the Pear. The girls made French toast, we played games, went to the climbing gym, then BK’s folks took us all out to dinner at the Charko Broiler. It was a great day.

Oct 15 Denver, CO

It was 17 degrees this morning in Fort Collins. Sara, me and the Pear went downtown to a free yoga class. BK elected to stay in bed. Namaste.

I went for a short run around town to stretch these legs, the girls made lunch and cookies then Sara and I headed down to Denver.

In Denver we’re staying with Cheese, Analiese, and Joel(Halftime). The five of us met Speed and Galaxy Girl at a bar down the street, Station 26. Speed just got home from the ALDHA West Gathering in Oregon where he received his Triple Crown Award. Station 26 is a former firehouse and a bit of an unofficial thru hiker bar. Besides all of us, both of the guys tending bar, Grundel Hammer and Kyle, hiked the PCT in ‘15 and we hiked with Kyle again last year on the CDT. It was a fun night catching up with all these guys. Denver has got to be a great place to live and these guys are all digging it out here. I know this because every time I’m here somebody is selling me on Denver and trying to get me to relocate.

Oct 16 Kansas City, MO

This morning we met Speed and Galaxy Girl for coffee before heading east from Denver. Our next stop is Nashville so we figured we’d just try to get as far as we could along I-70. Originally I was in favor of detouring south through Oklahoma and Arkansas since I’ve never been to either of those states but it added multiple driving hours and I really had no particular place in mind to go to other than just drive through the states.

I-70 through eastern Colorado and Kansas is objectively boring. I’ve been on this road twice already, once driving and once hitchhiking. I knew what I was getting into and that didn’t make it any more exciting. We did see a bobcat though, and that was awesome! I’ve walked an above average number of miles in the backcountry and never seen a big cat in the wild until today, in the median of a major interstate in the middle of Kansas. This thing was the size of a coyote with a cat face and a bob tail, just trying to get across the highway. Really hope he or she got home safely.

Last September we met this couple Nick and Sarah at a hot spring in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. When we parted ways we all told each other, “if you’re ever in town, make sure you get in touch.” So we did and they put us up in their sweet guest house in Kansas City, MO. They recently converted their garage into a tiny home and host guests all the time. A DIY TV show actually did a bunch of the work but Nick and Sarah finished it and the tiny house came out incredible. It was a great place to spend the night and I’m totally inspired to do this when I get home. And oh yeah, we ate some delicious Kansas City BBQ tonight at Slap’s.

Oct 17 Nashville, TN

We went to breakfast with Nick this morning then blasted east out of Kansas City. In 4 short hours we were in St. Louis and stopped to walk under the Gateway Arch. What a behemoth! Last time I was here it was getting fixed or something so it wasn’t as impressive, but today damn! That thing is massive.

Just outside of St. Louis we stopped for BBQ again and they do it right down here. We stuffed ourselves with ribs and pulled pork sandwiches before driving through southern Illinois and into Kentucky. A new state for me, even though we were just passing through.

Tonight we got into Nashville and met up with friends Garbelly and Critter(M.E.). I first met Garbelly just briefly on the PCT and then hiked with both of them last year on the CDT and even finished the trail through Glacier with these two. We met for pizza and crashed at their place tonight.

Oct 18 Nashville, TN

Today Garbelly and M.E. and their dog Milo, took me and Sara out towards northeastern Tennessee to see some of the highlights of the state. We got to Big South Fork National Recreation Area and walked the Honey Creek Loop Trail. It was so cool! The trail drops down from The Cumberland Plateau and goes alongside these huge sandstone cliffs and right by easily accessible caves. I guess there’s something like 20,000 caves in Tennessee. Garbelly says the whole state is like Swiss cheese. We walked up Honey Creek going under and over tons of huge boulders and walking by a bunch of little waterfalls. When we got back to the car we drove over to another trail to see the Twin Arches. These are exactly like the name implies; two huge natural sandstone arches. A little different than St. Louis’ Gateway Arch and more similar to the arches you might find in southern Utah.

I never knew how much Tennessee had going on out here, and I don’t think many other people do either since we only saw 2 other people all day. It was a great day hanging out with these 2 and exploring Tennessee which I know consider a very underrated state.

Oct 19 Wantagh, NY

We drove all day from Nashville to Long Island. Over 900 miles from 7am until midnight when we made it to Sara’s parents house(although we did lose an hour going from central to eastern time zone).

This will be the last entry for the blog. The plan is to hang out here tomorrow and into Sunday with Sara’s family and some friends and drive home to Massachusetts Saturday morning. It was a great trip, but it’s time to get back home for awhile.

Thanks for reading! And especially thank you to everybody that put us up, had a meal with us, or just took time out if their lives to come see us on this trip. It was great to spend time with so people throughout the country.

9/17 Portland, OR

From the Abbotsford hotel room we were only about 2 miles from the US border and a few hundred from the car that we left at White Pass in Washington. I figured nobody would pick up hitchhikers crossing the border so we just walked through. Sara forgot her passport so that made it a little interesting but no problem, they let her back in. In Sumas, WA we put our thumbs out and had a ride right away. Neal, a senior games gold medal swimmer, picked us up and drove us about an hour to Bellingham. Instead of hitching all day we rented a car here(for a quarter of the price than in Abbotsford) and drove 4 hours to pick up the car at White Pass. It was another 3 hours to Portland, OR where we dropped off the rental then met up with our friend Tami for pizza. Catching up with Tami was fun, we picked her brain about hiking the Hayduke and other adventures she’s got coming up. Plus she lent me her bear canister that should come in handy next week. And we parked the rolling bedroom outside her house for the night.

9/18 Mt Hood

What a perfect day to walk around a city and eat food. Right away we went to the coffee shop near Tami’s house and used the internet for awhile(I’ve had pretty limited service the last couple weeks so it was nice to get caught up on what’s going on). Sara took care of the laundry and came back with Blue Star Donuts, what a treat. We went to the REI downtown to get a few little necessities. I broke my sunglasses about a week ago and I’ve been walking around with duct tape barely holding them onto my face, so it was nice to get a new pair. We walked around downtown getting overwhelmed at how awesome Powell’s Bookstore is and then went to the food trucks. I ate some Vietnamese dumplings before getting some spicy pork dish from a Korean truck.

Tomorrow we’re planning on running the Timberline Trail around Mt Hood so on our way there we stopped in a PCT town, Cascade Locks for ice cream then went to the supermarket in Hood River.

From Hood River we drove an hour south and uphill to the Timberline Lodge(from The Shining) where we’ll start our run in the am. There’s a huge parking lot here that you can park at overnight and that’s exactly what we did.

Sept 19 Timberline Trail

The Timberline Trail goes 44 miles around Mt Hood(there’s some discrepancies with the mileage but Sara’s Strava clocked it at 44 miles). From Timberline Lodge going clockwise it coincides with the PCT for about a dozen miles to Ramona falls. Five miles later it intersects with the PCT again then splits off to the east going all the way around and finally joining back up to the PCT a mile+ south of the lodge. Besides the distance it’s relatively easy, there’s only about 11,000 feet of elevation gain and a lot of the trail is very runnable.

Our alarms went off around 5 but after dragging ass and dilly dallying for a little we were on trail by 5:50. 5 minutes later I realized I forgot my sunglasses, too late now. But Dammit! I just got them yesterday, and I depend on these things, oh well. We wore headlamps for the first 45 minutes and I kept my eyes peeled for Timberline Tigers(this area’s version of the mountain lion). Running clockwise around the mountain it starts off with a pretty long downhill so before long we had some good miles under our belts. We did what we could running this thing, trying to run the downhills and flats and hike the uphills. It proved to be a solid strategy as I think we made good time. I’ve hiked this section of the PCT twice so some of the miles were pretty familiar to me, but the views of Mt Hood don’t get old. Once we got past Ramona Falls and were on the north side of the mountain it was all new to me and it was awesome, especially on a beautiful clear and sunny day. We got to the Cloud Cap Trailhead on the northeast side of the mountain around 1:30 and ate some ham and cheese subs that we’d lugged out there while we battled a long uphill.

Over on the east side of the trail is where we got the highest, around 7300 feet, and could see way out into the Eastern Oregon desert. We ran through Mt Hood Meadows ski resort and from there it was only a few more miles back to the lodge and the car. A few more rivers to cross and we’d be just about done. The hardest part of this trail is getting across these rocky rivers of snow melt. You have to drop way down to get to the river, pick your way across it with varying levels of difficulty, then climb back up to the trail. I kept my feet dry all day, Sara wasn’t so lucky.

Once back on the PCT you can see the lodge from far away but it’s a bit of an illusion as you have to go way up and down a couple times to get to it, we both knew this though and enjoyed the last mile as we were happy to be finishing a great day. We got to the lodge just after 6 for a total of a little over 12 hours. 10 out of 10 would do it again and recommend. After we finished we drove an hour or two south and parked at a rest area near Smith Rock for the night.

Sept 20 Redding, CA

Our plan is to start the Sierra High Route on Saturday in California’s Sierra Nevadas so our main objective today was to get a chunk of the driving done and rest these legs.

First we had to check some stuff out. The rest area we slept at was right next to a ravine 300 feet deep containing the Deschutes River. As far as rest areas go, this was a good one. Then we noticed we were only about 10 minutes from Smith Rock State Park. This place is a haven for rock climbers and also looked like it had some nice trails. I wish I had good legs this morning because I would have loved to run around the park but settled for just taking it all in from the parking lot.

We followed 97 south through Bend for a couple hours then went west for about an hour to the Umpqua Hot Springs. Such a relaxing place to soak. About a quarter mile walk from the parking area there’s 8 pools ranging from body temperature to wicked hot. They sit kind of high above the Umpqua river and as much as I wanted to jump in and out of the cold river and back into the hot springs it looked like a major chore to climb down and I was ill equipped. Either way still very relaxing, clean, easy to find, and not too crowded for hot springs.

We got back on the road after a few hours of laying around in hot water absorbing all kinds minerals and positive energy. In Klamath Falls, pretty much the last town in Oregon, we stopped for supper at a BBQ joint and got some delicious ribs and then on our way out of town grabbed a couple tacos at a Mexican food truck. Who would have though Klamath Falls was such a culinary hot spot. Shortly after that we were in California and had views of the massive and prominent Mt Shasta. I remember when hiking the PCT in ‘15 how much this beefcake dominated the Northern California landscape and it’s still doing that.

We joined I-5 near Weed, CA then dropped way down to the Central Valley where there weren’t many opportunities for free camping. We ended up finding a parking spot in the overnight lot at the Win River Casino in Redding. Casinos, like Walmart’s, let you park for free overnight. I think. I stayed outside of one in Colorado or Utah one time.

9/21 King’s Canyon National Park

The ride from Redding to Fresno is super boring. Just straight and flat for 300 miles. In a way it’s like driving across Kansas. Fresno is the closest city to King’s Canyon, where we’ll be starting our hike tomorrow. It’s only about 200 feet above sea level and today’s a hot one, about 95 degrees.

A few days ago we ordered new sneakers online and had them shipped general delivery to a Fresno PO(sneakers are so much cheaper online). This is a common practice while hiking the long trails but I guess the guys at this particular post office never dealt with it before. They were flabbergasted. “You can’t do that you know! You have to send them to the other post office! We almost sent these back!” one of guys threatened us. To the other guy he says, “we finally found Sara!” The package was literally there for one day. I told them, “we are so sorry, it will never happen again.” Then walked out of the post office with our new shoes in our general delivery package. Were we in the wrong here? We fedexed something to the PO, marked it general delivery so we could pick it up and these guys acted like I mistook a corner of their building for a urinal.

We spent the rest of the afternoon resupplying at a Grocery Outlet(best store ever) then a Walmart, and stopped at a Planet Fitness for our weekly showers.

From Fresno we drove east on 180 towards King’s Canyon National Park and stopped at Twin Valleys in Dunlap for a big pre trail meal. BBQ again tonight and again it was very good. Back on the road we got detoured because of a fire or something and had to take this super steep and winding road for the next hour. Sara was driving and did a good job but I still felt like I was about to vom and I usually don’t get car sick. We got to Convict Flat CG in Sequoia National Forest and called it a night. A much better free campsite than a parking lot at a Redding casino.

Sept 13 PCT mile 2576.8

This morning we woke up a mile outside of Holden Village at their designated campsite and walked to their dining hall for breakfast. In another lifetime this place was a copper mining camp but now it’s a Lutheran Retreat Center, and is completely off the grid. They rarely see PCT hikers but this year because of the fire detour they’ve had a huge influx of hikers and treated us really well. Breakfast was buffet style oatmeal sundaes, then they let us do our laundry for free. From the village there’s a 10 mile rd to Lake Chelan(I think this is their only outlet to the outside world) and a daily yellow school bus took us to Lucerne Landing where we got picked up by a ferry that took us to Stehekin. Lake Chelan is a narrow and extremely long and deep lake surrounded by mountains. Someone told me that it’s a fjord but I’m not exactly sure what that means. Stehekin is a tiny town that sits at the top of the lake and is usually the last stop for PCT’ers. It’s a really cool little place, inaccessible by road, it’s a very remote little vacation town for some people. Or I guess people live here year round too.

We did town stuff like showering for the first time in a week and picking up our resupply boxes at the PO, then walked a couple miles to the world famous(or at least trail famous) Stehekin Bakery. Everybody on the PCT starts hearing about this place when you’re still way down in Southern California and it lives up to the hype. From the bakery we took a shuttle bus to the end of the road, 10 miles out of town where we got back on the PCT. Going north the next 17 miles are within North Cascades NP where we need a permit to camp. Sara and I and half a dozen others all got permits at a site 5 miles out and got here just before dark.

Of any trail I’ve hiked Stehekin is the most complicated town stop. Don’t get me wrong I really like it here, I’d like to buy land out here and put a trailer on it, but for getting in and out of town and trying to coordinate shuttle bus schedules, P.O. hours, making sure we got to the bakery, National Park permits, plus a fire detour and a ferry ride, it’s a pain in the ass.

Sept 14 PCT mile 2609.4

The trail was super cruiser pretty much all day. For the first 15 or so miles we were within North Cascades NP until we reached Rainy Pass and our first paved road in 130 miles(National Park trails are usually always well maintained and well graded, in other words it was easy).

At Rainy Pass we got some killer trail magic. Erica and Nick, 2 former hikers, were grilling up hot dogs and cooking chili. While I was busy eating 1 of my 3 chili dogs, another guy, the Madd Baker drove up to do trail magic also. He had a bunch of cookies for us and I think he was about to cook soup but we had moved on by then.

With a belly full of hot dogs and cookies we started a long 5 mile climb up to Cutthroat Pass. On the way up I looked to the left and saw a black bear farting around in the woods. Immediately I thought it was a black dog, as I always do, but it was a bear. Just a little fella doing his thing. I also saw an owl this morning and Sara saw a pine marten so it was a pretty good day for wildlife. As we walked a little further we ran into this lady who was out day hiking and all excited about the bear asking us if we saw it. She told us she pulled out her bear spray and accidentally sprayed herself, then turned around and went back up towards the pass to get away. We encouraged her to go back down as the bear probably won’t bother her and she did, I just really hope she didn’t end up spraying the bear, poor thing doesn’t deserve it.

When we got up to Cutthroat Pass we were treated to spectacular views then it immediately started snowing on us, I didn’t even think it was cold enough. We would be above tree line for the next 5 miles so this wasn’t good. Luckily it stopped after 20 minutes and the rest of the day was just enjoyable and scenic Washington hiking.

Sept 15 Pasayten Wilderness, Fire detour

Immediately this morning we started climbing up towards Glacier Pass. This was a beefy switchbacked climb and although it was chilly the skies were clear and blue and the views of the North Cascades were awesome. By midday we made it to Hart’s Pass, the last trailhead before the Canadian Border and once again there were people cooking lunch for us. I didn’t get all their names but this time it was a family from Republic, WA doing trail magic and it was great; cheeseburgers, orange soda, corn on the cob, hot chocolate, and fresh vegetables. They did it right.

Hart’s Pass is more or less a dead end trailhead on a dirt road about a 20 mile drive from the nearest town, Mazama. From there it’s regularly 30 PCT miles to the border and then another 8 to Manning Park in Canada. This year though, there’s a wildfire and a detour that makes the route 34 miles to the border.

After lunch we walked up to Slate Pass and then the detour took us east into the Pasayten Wilderness. The detour was nice and everything, nothing extraordinary, just deep dark Washington forest. It feels very remote out here. For most of the afternoon it was rather cold and drizzling and we saw a handful of hikers returning to Hart’s after they just completed their hike. Around 6 we saw this guy coming towards us that looked like the crypt keeper(ok maybe not that scary but he was close to it). I usually don’t think I judge a book by its cover but the way this guy presented himself gave me the creeps. He wasn’t friendly and he kept one hand in his pocket as if he was concealing a weapon. As he passed he asked, “How far to Hart’s Pass?” and Sara told him about 14 miles. He didn’t seem to like that answer and had some short gruff response. This guy had rain gear on but only a very small pack and not in the style of a lightweight long distance hiker(I highly doubt he had a tent and sleeping bag). Old boy had a long way to go and it was cold and rainy out without any prospects of warming up. If he acted a little differently I’m sure we would have stopped and tried to help him out, I mean not that we could have since we’re both only carrying the minimum ourselves. As it was though we didn’t even slow down. I hope he gets where he’s going and everything but I was glad to put some distance between us. I don’t know, maybe I’m overreacting here and the guy had a camp already set up nearby or something. But still. We stopped about an hour and a half later and put our tent next to the west fork of the Pasayten River. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so deep in the heart of Texas, I mean Washington.

Sept 16 Abbotsford, BC

Today we reached the Canadian Border. This is really no big deal for me, I’ve been here before so it’s not a culmination of a long journey or anything like that. For Sara though it is exactly that. She started hiking the PCT at the Mexican Border in 2015 with every intention of walking all the way to Canada(we both started the same day actually although we didn’t hike much together that year). Because of a crazy wildfire season she got off trail at the Oregon/Washington Border and went on to hike about 700 miles in New England that summer. Since then she has completed both the AT and the CDT and has twice returned to Washington to try to complete the PCT. In July of ‘16 she hiked 150 miles from the Oregon Border to White Pass and was forced off due to snow. In ‘17 we tried to get on the PCT after we finished the CDT but there were tons of fires closing some of the trail. Even earlier this year when we first came out here parts of the trail were closed so we went up to Canada for a couple weeks to wait it out. It’s been a bit of an odyssey for her but the time has come.

When we got up today it was clear and cool with blue skies overhead. That wouldn’t last though. We climbed for about 7 or 8 more miles of the fire detour until we rejoined the actual PCT at Woody Pass. While we were climbing the clouds moved in and it started to rain. A cold rain too, and windy. As we got closer to the Pass the rain turned to snow and sooner than later the weather completely went to shit. For what seemed like forever we walked along a snowy and slippery ridge with the wind whipping in our faces. Keep in mind walking through a snowstorm is no big deal if you’re dressed for it but I’m only wearing a thin rain jacket over my tank top and wind pants over my shorts. This isn’t exactly ‘rain gear’ it’s more like a ‘rain outfit’ like this is what I wear during inclement weather, not that it does anything. My shoes and socks have been wet for days and everything else I’m wearing is soaked. We were both uncomfortable but eventually we dropped lower. The snow turned back to rain and although it was still cold and wet at least we felt like we were out of harm’s way.

When we were about 3 miles to the Border Sara turned and pointed to a tree right next to the trail. I looked and saw a tiny little black bear cub hugging a branch(for the record she said she saw two cubs but I only saw one). Bear cubs are cool but I don’t want to see them at ten feet and that’s how close we were. We both started yelling out, ‘Hey Bear!’ and thankfully never did see mama. Another hour of walking through wet bushes and rain and then the sun decided to come out. Perfect timing. We rounded a corner and saw the clear cut forest and then Monument 78, the Canadian Border. After a few high fives and pictures and basking in the sun enjoying the moment, it was time to move on, still 8 miles to Manning Park and the road out.

Once we got to Manning Park we checked to see about reasonable lodging and there was none. It was getting late, late for hitching anyway, do we decided to give it a try for a little bit then find a spot to camp if that didn’t work out. After about 10 minutes Jenna pulled over on her way home from visiting her boyfriend across the province and drove us about an hour and a half to Abbotsford, BC where we got a room for the night. What an incredible day, glad to be warm in bed in a Best Western in a little Canadian Border town tonight. Congratulations QB on persevering and finishing this trail. On to the next thing.feel free to follow this blog or follow me on insta @endlesspsummer and Sara(QB) at @sarahikes

Aug 26th Lois Lake, Sunshine Coast

We woke up this morning in the car at the Kin Beach CG and enjoyed a view across the Salish Sea(which is part of the Straight of Georgia) to mainland British Columbia. We took a 10 am ferry from the town of Comax to Powell River on the other side. Powell River is a little town on the Sunshine Coast and although the SC is on mainland British Columbia, I guess a couple of deep fjords make it impossible to build road access and ends up making it a rather remote little area.

Our plan is to hike the Sunshine Coast Trail which is a hut to hut hiking trail that stretches 112 miles(and even more kilometers) from Sarah’s Point to Saltery Bay. In order to get to get to Sarah’s Point we have to take a water taxi from the tiny town of Lund at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast. So what we’re doing today is food shopping and organizing our food for about 5 days of hiking, doing laundry, hopefully finding a place to run and swim, then driving to Saltery Bay where we’ll end up camping and leaving the car. Tomorrow we’ll be hitching to Lund to catch the water taxi to Sarah’s point in the afternoon(I better see an orca). Logistics are a MFer but the trail looks cool so I bet it will all be worth it.

We did find a good place to run. Inland Lake Provincial Park is near Powell River and there’s a really nice trail around the lake and some nice clean water to jump into afterwards. And for camping tonight we heard about this mysterious free campground next to Lois Lake but to find it you had to follow a series of unmarked logging roads. Eventually we got there and it was worth a few wrong turns because it was an absolutely beautiful spot next to a pristine lake.

Aug 27th SCT 16K Manzanita Hut

We woke up next to Lois Lake and it was better looking in the daylight. Because it’s forest land there’s a few cabins floating out on the water. I don’t really know how that works but they looked like cool places to live.

From Lois Lake we drove south towards Saltery Bay, found a spot to take a quick dip in the ocean then left the car in a parking lot near the ferry terminal. We had to hitch north about 60K to Lund where we catch a water taxi to Sarah’s Point and the beginning of the trail. Our first ride, Wendy, had 4 little daschunds with her and drove us about 10 minutes before we got another ride from Chris. This guy traveled the world and was a retired professional soccer player, sheriff, volunteer firefighter, carpenter, and I’m guessing a few other things. I’ll be reading his book when it comes out. He learned us about all kinds of stuff on the Sunshine Coast and gave us a lift to Powell River, waited for us to run an errand then drove us about 10 minutes further north. We put our thumbs out and quickly got picked up by Ian, Denise, and Nora. Ian dropped the two women off at their waterfront home then brought us the rest of the way into Lund giving us some more info about the area.

Lund is the very northern point of Route 101 that goes all the way south to the tip of Argentina, it’s the ‘end of the road’ if you will. It’s basically a marina, a hotel, some camps and a bakery.

Our boat didn’t leave until 4:45 so we chilled out in the bakery until then. The water taxi was a short 20 minute ride up the rocky coast along a bunch of houses that are only accessible by boat or a 4×4 Jeep road. We opted for the boat ride. When we got to Sarah’s point there was no dock but just a rock we got close to and jumped onto. And that was the beginning of the trail. It’s 180 kilometers back to Saltery Bay so we brought maybe enough food for 5 days. People have been asking us how long we plan on hiking for and when we tell them 5 days they look at us like we’ve got lobsters crawling out of our ears. I don’t really think it’s all that fast but we’ll see. Anyway we didn’t have much sunlight left so we just kind of crushed it through some dense green forest for 16k to Manzanita Hut. There’s 2 other girls staying here who were already in bed so we quietly ate a quick meal of rehydrated beans and called it a night.

Aug 28th SCT 58K

Today was great although uneventful, I just walked all day. We got moving from Manzanita Hut around 7:30 and were up and down through deep green forest for most of the morning. Once in a while we’d come to a pond or cross a river on a fallen down tree turned into a lot bridge. We ate lunch at Rieveley Hut and I saw a bunch of bull frogs. The huts on this trail are in really good condition, so far anyway, I’ve only seen 2. They both had a picnic table and kitchen area downstairs then the upstairs were just big lofts with space for about a dozen people.

This afternoon we were walking through more old growth rain forest and then all of a sudden I found the ultimate swimming hole. Gorge Falls had a few big pools of icy cold water then a narrow pool that was about 12 feet deep, way over my head anyway. After we got cleaned up there we walked along Sliammon Lake and up onto a bluff where we could see out across Salish Sea to the mountains on Vancouver Island plus Hardwick and Texada Islands. It was quite an amazing view. We walked down from the bluff to Powell Lake and passed climbers top roping on a cliff right next to us. When we got to Powell Lake we were actually pretty close to the town of Powell River and it would be easy to just start here if you wanted to do a modified hike of the SCT. We had planned on camping at Haywire Bay, but after a couple hours of walking along the lake we realized it was a pay campground and at $23 a night neither one of us was having that. About 100 meters after the campground was a flat spot next to the trail and that’s where we set up our tent.

Aug 29th SCT 93K

Today was a tough one. We started off walking down towards Inland Lake, the same lake we ran around a few days ago, and followed the trail around the southern half of the lake. Leaving Inland Lake the trail climbed very steeply up towards Confederation Lake, this went on for about an hour and it was the steepest the trail has been yet. We had a little lunch break at the Confederation Lake Hut and this place was sweet! There was a pellet stove and it was winterized, I’m guessing a perfect place to snowshoe up to for a night in the winter.

The rest of the day was big descents and big climbs with Tin Hat Mountain being the biggest. From the top of this peak there were panoramic views of all the mountains and lakes in the area. There was also another winterized hut and if there weren’t so many people already staying and if we had enough water we probably would have spent the night but decided to push on for awhile. The trail down from Tin Hat was super steep and kilometer markers were grossly inaccurate. This whole trail every kilometer has been marked and we usually pass a marker every 12-15 minutes but during this descent it took over an hour for one K. I didn’t think that was right and it ended up taking us longer than I wanted to get to Lewis Lake where we camped for the night. Plus I got stung by a wasp on the way down, Sara already got stung twice today but you wouldn’t have known it. I definitely did enough whining for the both of us.

Aug 30 SCT 134K

First thing this morning Sara spotted a few beavers swimming around in Lewis Lake right next to the trail as we walked by. There were three of them just swimming slowly in a big circle looking for fish or sticks or whatever and every once in awhile smacking their tails against the water. I must have heard them doing this last night as I was trying to sleep but I just figured the noise I heard was bullfrogs doing belly flops off logs. It was an incredible wildlife sighting.

The rest of the day went pretty smoothly, the trail went up and down all day through forest and right up close to some recently clear cut forest that can be a bit ugly. We climbed up to Elk Lake where I took a quick bath then we ate lunch at the hut there. Later this afternoon we climbed up Walt Hill and some amazing views of the surrounding mountains, lakes, sea and islands. The Sunshine Coast is a really beautiful area. For much of this trail we’ve been walking through forest, which is cool, but when we get up high and the views open up you can see all the incredible surroundings.

As we were looking for a campsite tonight I heard a bunch of rustling in the bushes. I just figured it was a bear but as we turned a corner I saw about 15-20 elk running from a section of clear cut forest into the woods. 1 male and the rest female(his harem). I learned from a hitch one time that the end of August is mating season, and also hunting season. Shortly after we got all set up I heard half a dozen shots, hopefully none of those elk got hit.

Aug 31 SCT 171K Fairview Bay

We pretty much camped right on trail last night, there wasn’t much we could do about it, so we got up quickly before anybody had to ask us to move and started walking. After a couple hours we came to Lois Lake where we had car camped the night before we started the trail. We watched a giant eagle that flew across the water and checked out these little cabins that are built on floats. I don’t get it but I think it has something to do with it being forest land and you can’t have cabins on land. I want one.

The trail climbed from there, eventually bringing us up to Elephant lake where we took a break and I went for a quick swim. Yesterday I swam in Elk Lake and ended up seeing about 20 elk, I better see a bunch of wild elephants today. Probably won’t happen though. From the lake we climbed up to the top of the Troubridge Massif, over 4000 feet and the highest point of the trail. It wasn’t too tough and there were some awesome views of Saltery Bay and the Salish Sea from the top. The descent sucked though. It was super steep! My legs were burning. I would much rather climb something steep then descend.

We could have walked another coupe hours tonight and got to the car but we stopped at Fairview Bay Shelter for the night. This is a really nice little shelter right on the ocean. We ate on a rock looking out at the bay and I went for a quick swim thinking that the salt water will neutralize my b.o. Maybe a little.

Sep 1 SCT 178K Saltery Bay

Sunshine Coast Trail complete! What a great trail! It’s obvious how much this trail is cared for by the locals in the area. The SCT was built completely by volunteers from the PR PAWS and the B.O.M.B. Squad and it’s very well done. The huts are in great shape, there’s lots of other handmade infrastructure and a ton of the trail has been cut through some thick forest. It couldn’t have been easy to build. And it’s well signed, almost too well signed, there’s little orange squares nailed onto what seems like every other tree. Super easy to navigate. It’s a great trail but it’s tough, definitely more difficult than I expected, so if you’re in the mood for a nice cruiser short trail to crush this probably isn’t the one for you. Still fun though.

This morning we walked for a couple hours, mostly along the coast, finishing what we had left and got back to the car. The trail ends right at the Saltery Bay ferry terminal and as we were getting to the car we watched as the 9:30 ferry took off. Oh well, we got the next one. We had to catch a ferry to Earl’s Cove, drive an hour and a half then catch another ferry to mainland BC and drive to Vancouver. It takes awhile to get anywhere from the Sunshine Coast but that’s kind of the beauty of it, so GD isolated.

This evening we spent a few hours walking around and eating a bunch of food in Vancouver and then just decided to go back to the U.S. We parked at the first rest area over the Washington Border and called it a night. Feel free to follow me on insta for more pictures @endlesspsummer and Sara or QB @sarahikes

Aug 20 Seattle, WA

As we were driving out of our parking spot in the Fishtrap BLM land this morning, we noticed how smoky it was in eastern Washington. So smoky that we might not be hiking the PCT. We still had a few hours to monitor the situation but as we were driving west things weren’t looking good. Parts of the trail were closed so if we were to hike, the views would be shit and we still wouldn’t be able to finish. We stopped at Snoqualmie Pass and talked to a few hikers, they didn’t really have good news and that sealed the deal for us.

I got in touch with my friend Ruthie in Seattle who was quick to offer to host us for a night which was great. Sara and I drove another hour to Seattle and came up with a plan to get out to the Vancouver Island Coast and hopefully away from the smoke. With Ruthie and her wolf dog Syd, the 4 of us spent the day eating lots of food, walking around Alki beach and exploring Discovery Park. It was a fun day in a great city. Plus it was our first time in a week that we slept indoors and were able to shower and do laundry.

Aug 21 Port Renfrew, BC

Sara and I got some pastries in West Seattle for breakfast then started making our way through the morning rush hour traffic. We had a ferry to catch in the afternoon from Anacortes, WA to Sidney, BC. Before that we had some time so we went for a run all over Deception Pass State Park. This place is sweet! There’s 2 big bridges that connect Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands and the surrounding areas have a bunch of trails and a beach. After our hilly sweaty run we of course jumped in the cold water and cleaned up a little, or at least cooled off.

We got lunch in Anacortes and waited in line for the international ferry. The boat ride through the San Juan Islands was enjoyable. The whole time I stood on watch with my bino’s for orcas and for the first time ever I saw not one but two, plus a few porpoises.

Once we reached land in Sidney we quickly went through customs then started making our way towards Port Renfrew on the southwest corner of the island. We found a parking spot at the Botanical Beach trailhead and tomorrow morning we’ll start here and hike the Juan de Fuca trail along the coast.

Aug 22, Chin Beach, JDF Trail

The Juan de Fuca trail stretches 47 kilometers across a section of Vancouver Island’s SW Coast. Since being in Canada half a day I’ve quickly converted to the metric system. You should too.

We started walking eastbound from the Botanical Beach parking lot this morning, mostly against the flow of hiking traffic. It’s been really nice. For the most part we’ve been in an old growth rain forest that sits right along the coast. We’re walking through lush forest with some massive trees and the trail is loaded with lots of infrastructure. When I say infrastructure I’m talking about staircases built into the side of the trail, or planks on the ground so you won’t step in mud, or bridges built out of old fallen down trees. I like that sort of stuff. Every once in awhile we’ll have a view of the ocean or pop out onto a beach and walk along that for a bit. Some sections you need to have a tidal chart in order to safely get around the headlands, luckily for us we’ve yet to get jammed up with high tides. I’ll say this about this place, it’s definitely more crowded than I expected. When we got to Sombrio Beach there were all kinds of people walking around, probably because there’s a road out that way but I was surprised. Still beautiful though and I’ve been digging it.

Since there’s only certain places you’re allowed to camp, when we got to Chin Beach around 5:30 after only 26 Kilometers we called it a night. Otherwise it’s about 12K more to the next camping.

Aug 23, Tofino, BC

The first 10K or so of the trail this morning, from Chin Beach to Bear Beach, was a bit difficult. Lots of ups and downs, a little muddy, and some roots and stuff. It wasn’t quite as tough as I expected though, one older guy compared it to childbirth(that didn’t make much sense unless he was talking about somebody else. Or maybe he was talking about when he was born, which seems like it would be difficult to remember). Anyway once we got to Bear Beach we chilled out for a bit, saw a bunch of seals and a baby sea otter. The rest of the trail was rather mellow and we reached the China Beach Trailhead in the early afternoon. We put our thumbs out and after about 15-20 minutes Mariah, a Port Renfrew local, drove us about a half hour back to our car at Botanical Beach.

Sara and I started making our way North on the Island towards Tofino and after a couple hours of driving we saw 2 girls with backpacks hitchhiking. We picked up Brittany and Chaya who were also on their way to Tofino. These two were good company and they told us about the hostel style campground they were headed to. Since the Tofino area didn’t have much for free camping, plus it was late, we ponied up the short money and got a parking spot at Poole’s Land for the night. It was more of a hippie commune than campground and definitely not for everyone but it was cool and an interesting place to experience.

Aug 24 Tofino, BC

Tofino, along with it’s neighboring city Ucluelet, is a surfing Mecca halfway up the west coast of Victoria Island. There’s other cool stuff to do there and not being much of a surfer I wanted to rent a sea kayak for a few nights and go camp out on an island(I’m not much of a kayaker either). When we started looking into renting kayaks we quickly realized we needed either a guided tour or knowledge of the local area, navigational charts, a 2 way radio, permits to camp in the Pacific Rim National Park reserve, a credit report, pass a background check, a clean driving record plus they were sold out. Maybe you didn’t need all that stuff but renting a kayak was no picnic.

So we went for a nice run on the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet to come up with a plan. This trail was great for running, it was hilly with good footing, along a rocky coastline and it was home to some giant cedar trees. Supposedly we were in wolf/bear/cougar territory and although I didn’t see any of those predators I did see a massive bald eagle perched in a tree stalking some salmon or something.

After our run we checked out Ucluelet and looked into renting surfboards. No problem! Way easier than getting our hands on a kayak. We went to the Wya Point surf shop and for a few bucks we each had a wetsuit and a couple of boards strapped to the roof of the Outback with the promise of returning them tomorrow afternoon. Sara and I drove up the road about 10 minutes to Wickanannish Beach and were in the water in minutes. So much fun! Not saying I’m Kelly Slater or anything but I did get up on the very first wave, QB was totally impressed. All afternoon there were big Canadian waves and really not all that many surfers in the water.

On the recommendation of my friend George we went to Tacofino for burritos afterwards and it may have been the best burrito of my life. I was wicked hungry but still, I think it was the greatest of all time. Sara was also a gigantic fan. If you’re ever in Tofino, BC and find yourself with a hankering for some Mexican food, the Tacofino food truck will not disappoint.

Aug 25 Comox, BC

Surf’s up bro! Just kidding, but seriously what an awesome day! It was raining on the car when we first woke up and the towels and wetsuits that we draped over the top were now soaked instead of dry. Oh well! Sara and I headed back to Wick Beach but there was nobody in the lot and when we walked out to the beach the waves looked way smaller than yesterday so we drove up the road a bit to Cox Bay and found some big time waves. Neither of us really know what we’re doing at all but after a while we were both getting up on the boards just about every other wave.

Our friend Ash and her boyfriend Zach were up this way enjoying a holiday of their own so we got in touch with them and met for lunch in town. I guess we just missed them on the water yesterday, if it wasn’t for this damn international cell service we could have all been catching some gnarly waves together (for the record Sara hates it when I talk like Spicoli when we’re surfing). After lunch those two were heading south and Sara and I had a few more hours to splash around with our new found surfing skills before heading east.

Tonight we drove east across the island on the wild and wooly rt 4 and eventually got to Comox, BC. There’s not really logging roads or pull offs over this way so we found a sweet little seaside campground at Kin Beach Provincial Park along the Straight of Georgia.for more pictures find me on insta @endlesspsummer and Sara @sarahikes

This week Sara and I drove the northern route across the U.S. Driving is way easier than walking 3000+ miles.

My co pilot and I are in a Subaru Outback that I kind of converted into an adventure vehicle. In the back we’ve got a 3 inch think memory foam mattress topper that I cut to fit around the wheel wells, added a sheet and blanket and just like that I’ve got a rolling bedroom. We installed curtains for privacy and a roof rack cargo carrier for our extra gear.

Our plan is to take about a week to drive from Massachusetts to Washington, checking out a few new places, having some adventures, and seeing some friends. In Washington we’re going to park the car and get out onto the PCT at White Pass. Sara and I both thru hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in ‘15, but since there were crazy wildfires that year(and just about every year since) both of us were forced off trail in Washington. I was able to get back out there the following year to finish but Sara has about 350 miles left from White Pass to the Canadian border. If all goes well this should take about 2 weeks then we’ll hitch back to our car. From Washington we’ll drive north to Vancouver and explore some of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. We’ll then drive south through Washington and Oregon to California. There’s a bunch of things on the agenda but we haven’t quite nailed anything down yet so pretty much everything is subject to change. The only thing set in stone, so to speak, is to run a trail race on October 6th in the Bay Area. The Dick Collins Firetrails 50, anybody running it? Anyway the plan is to run and hike and train all over the place for this race, do the damn thing, then make our way back to Massachusetts.

If anybody has got any suggestions or wants to join us for something, or host us, get in touch, I’d love to see you.

Aug 14

We left Lynn, MA around 7:30 am and of course hit some traffic going through Boston but for the rest of the day it was smooth sailing. Originally we planned to go south of Lake Erie but about halfway through NY decided to go see Niagara Falls and reroute through Ontario into Michigan. The falls were cool, I had been there when I was 2 and they were exactly how I remembered them. Sara had been more recently and they hadn’t changed much for her either. We oohed and ahhed for about 20 minutes and were back on the road driving through Canada. Ontario was ok except that we had to wait at the border twice and get grilled about where I was born and stuff like that. Once back in the states Sara took over and drove a few hours through Michigan until we found a rest area to crash out for awhile. 869 miles, a solid first day.

Aug 15

I got some good sleep in that rest area and we didn’t have far to go today. Only a couple hundred miles to Rockford, IL, where we were staying with our friends Boone and Katie. Sara wanted to go for a run in Chicago so after getting out of Michigan and skimming through the NW corner of Indiana we were in the ‘Windy City’(not all that windy). We parked along Lake Michigan which looks more like an ocean and ran along the lake for awhile. After a few miles I recognized Buckingham Fountain from ‘Married with Children’ and after we saw that I wanted to go find the Bean. The Chicago Bean or ‘Cloud Gate’ is this huge sculpture in the middle of the city that serves as the backdrop for scores of dating app profiles. You’ve probably seen it. From the Bean we ran along the river walk then back along the Lake for awhile. There was a beach right near where we parked, perfect for a post run bath. After our bath we got some Chicago deep dish pizza of course. It was good and everything but it takes forever and you eat it with a knife and fork.

We got to Rockford later that afternoon and met up with our friends. Despite the pouring rain Katie gave us a mini tour of some local Rockford favorites. I saw one girl wearing a shirt that said, “Rockford doesn’t suck, you do.” It made my day. When Boone got out of work the 4 of us went for dinner and Sara and I slept in our rolling bedroom out front of their house. Rockford is a cool place, it gets a bit of a bum rap but I’ve been there a couple times now and I like it.

Aug 16

Today was all about the driving. We left Rockford around 7am and soon were in Wisconsin. A few hours later and we crossed the Mississippi River and entered Minnesota. Besides layovers I’ve never been to Minnesota before. We stopped at Great River Bluffs State Park and went for a run. It was cool, I don’t think I’d go out of my way for it but it was nice to get a few miles in on some nice trails and we even had a good view looking down at the river. After our run we spent the rest of the day just driving. All afternoon going across Minnesota then we crossed into another new state for me, South Dakota. SD is split in half by the Missouri River and I guess both sides of the state have an ‘Us vs Them’ attitude. I read this somewhere. We made across the river and all the way to Badlands National Park. There was a sweet spot to camp overlooking the Pinnacles section of the park in Buffalo Gap National Grasslands.

Aug 17,

What a day! QB and I got up early and drove through the Badlands to the Fossil exhibit side of Castle Trailhead. Sunrise is a great time for this place, you can beat the crowds and the park looks amazing in the early morning hours. We ran out about 5-6 miles on the Castle Trail and back on the Medicine Root Trail. It was sweet! Awesome views and some nice easy flat trails. After our run we took our time driving out of the park stopping at a bunch of the scenic overlooks and stuff. Once we were back on the Interstate we stopped at the world famous Wall Drug. This place is advertised on billboards for hundreds of miles and I was excited about it, Sara however, was not impressed. It’s like miniature town or a giant gift shop, I thought it was cool. Further West we stopped at Mt Rushmore. A bit of a let down. I had wanted to see this for awhile but it just didn’t really do it for me, I think it would have been cooler if they just left the mountain alone. I wasn’t really bummed out or anything but Sara bought me an ice cream to spike my tone a little. Not far from Mt Rushmore was Custer State Park and that place had it going on! We parked there and did a run/hike up South Dakota’s High Point, Black Elk Peak. This is a relatively easy climb with rewarding views at the top. I highly recommend it. After we ran down we jumped into Sylvan Lake and took somewhat of a bath in its chilly waters.

Leaving the park we stopped in the town of Custer for some supper then made our way into Wyoming. At one point while driving through Wyo there was a massive buck standing in the middle of the road. Luckily I didn’t hit it, but it was a good reminder to keep my eyes peeled for these things. After the buck we stopped at the next rest area in Sheridan, WY and got some sleep.

Aug 18

We weren’t far from the Montana border thus morning and we were soon driving West down I-90 through the Big Sky State. It rained a lot while driving which was good because it cleaned a lot of the bugs off the windshield but it would be nice if this rain made it out west to take care of the wildfires. Around lunchtime we realized we were only about an hour from the northern entrance to Yellowstone NP and there were some hot springs just a couple miles into the park. It was a rad little detour. 2 miles or so into the park is a little unadvertised parking lot and a short .5 mile walk from there are the springs. The Boiling River flows into the Gardner River and creates an area in the river perfect for soaking. It’s a strange phenomenon, even as hot springs go, while you sit there half of your body can be wicked hot while the other half is wicked cold. Just gotta find that happy medium.

After soaking for awhile we got back on the road heading north towards Missoula, MT.

Our friends BK and Prickly Pear have been busy hiking the Continental Divide this year and because the wildfires have been wrecking havoc on the trail, they’ve been rerouted. We met them in Missoula where they hitched to this morning and are staying with a friend tonight. The plan is to drive them to East Glacier Park, MT tomorrow where they will get back on trail and squeeze in as many miles of the CDT as possible without getting forced off trail due to fires. We met up with them in town and ate tons of food, as thru hikers do. Since they were staying on the floor of a friend’s small apartment, Sara and I drove to a local WalMart and parked there for the night.

Aug 19

Sara did the driving this morning and the 4 of us had a fun ride through the smoke up to Glacier NP. The CDT is a gnarly trail with all kinds of obstacles, if it’s not the snow it will be the fires, right now it’s the fires. You can read about their adventure this year on BK’s blog here: ramblinram.com.

In East Glacier we met up for lunch with our buddy Speed and his friend Galaxy Girl who just walked through the Bob Marshall Wilderness and in doing so Speed completed his Triple Crown.

From Glacier NP, Sara and I drove through some smoky country along the West Side of Flathead Lake and along the middle fork of the Clark river. It was quite scenic. We were right near the tiny town of Hot Springs, MT so naturally we went to check that place out and have a quick soak. We got a tip to check out Good Medicine Hot Spring and that’s exactly what we did. $5 on the honor system and we had access to the healing powers of Camas Hot Spring mineral waters. It was great, we had the place to ourselves and once we felt our minds, bodies, and souls were completely rejuvenated we got back on the road.

Shortly before getting back on I-90 and getting into Idaho we stopped at Frosty’s Burgers. From the outside it looked cool but do yourself a favor and skip this place. From now on I’ll try to read the reviews beforehand. After we waited forever we quickly ate our burgers and were driving again. Blasted through the Idaho Panhandle then were into Washington. About 30 miles west of Spokane we found some BLM land in Fishtrap Washington and had a nice private place to camp for the night.

Because of the wildfires there’s been lots of smoke ever since we got into Montana and it’s not letting up. We recently found out that the PCT has a bunch of trail closures which would make it difficult to complete. Plus the views are shit and the air quality is very bad. There’s a pretty good chance we’ll be coming up with a new plan once we get to Seattle and finding some smoke free areas to run and hike. Stay tuned and follow me on insta for more pictures and videos: @endlesspsummer