I’m a 46-year-old house-husband, doing what I can to take care of my wife after the many years that she has taken care of me. I’m a retired 26-year veteran of the US Air Force, living in Ashland, Oregon and using the location as a base to get out and pursue my long-time passion, photography. Brought up in the film world, I’m happy to run forward in the digital world, but actively seek time away.
Growing up, I had family members and the Boy Scouts to introduce me to the Sierra Nevada mountains. Whether it was hiking or fishing, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time in the mountains, likely crossing or using the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) the entire time, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time.
While in the Air Force, I was lucky enough to travel the world, which, in part, gave me the opportunity to climb Mount Fuji, surf in the Indian Ocean and run trails in the Alps of Germany and Italy. During that time, I kept seeking ways to push myself, through ultra-marathon cycling and running.
But those activities kept me from Jennifer, who couldn’t keep pace with me. We discovered that to not be true when hiking as I am often struggling to keep pace with her when we hit the trials.
Why I’m participating with mYAMAdventure
Participation in the mYAMAdventure means that we have access to two new things that we wouldn't have had prior to being accepted into the program – 1) ultra-light gear thanks to YAMA Mountain Gear and the other sponsors, and 2) the dedicated mentors.
Jennifer and I had already planned on hiking the PCT in 2015, using the gear that we had. While not overly bulky or heavy, very little of it would be considered ultra-light. So we are quite interested in the experience.
The mentors will be a huge benefit to us. We've done quite a bit of reading, both in books and online, while also asking questions from a very supportive social network community. But having access to the mentors means that the answers we receive will be from folks who know exactly what our goals for the hike are as well as our capabilities.
What hiking the PCT means to me:
I'm hiking the PCT because it ties so many parts of my life together. The hiking is an activity that Jennifer and I can do and enjoy together. This past year I “discovered” the PCTA and the work that they did to keep the trail open. I attended the PCTA's Trail Skills College, which was conveniently held a short distance from my house and discovered the joy of working on the trail and with the volunteers. Since then, I have spent 12 days working on the trail in sections between Castle Crags, CA and Crater Lake, OR.
Jennifer and I had discussed the possibility of hiking the trail in the years to come, most likely as section hikers. But this past summer, our beloved greyhound Skinny passed on his 10th birthday. One evening soon after, during a moment of clarity while looking for the silver lining, Jennifer mentioned that this might be our open door to hike the PCT. I wasn't supposed to remember or take her up on that idea, but I did. We know that there likely won't be a better time and that I, for one, do not want to be in my 70's or 80's, looking back and wishing that we had taken advantage of the opportunity.
Why support the PCTA?
As an ardent supporter of and volunteer for the PCTA, I can tell you that the PCT would not exist if it wasn't for the team at the PCTA organizing crews of volunteers to maintain the trail. Just this past summer alone, I, along with many, many others, increased tread width on steep hillsides from 3 inches to 18 inches, moved rocks, cleared fallen trees, recovered trail tread below flowing springs, built retaining walls and removed broken culverts. During the fire outbreak in late July in northern California, volunteer trail crews sheltered and fed thru-hikers as well as shuttled them past closure areas.
Without the PCTA, nature would quickly reclaim the trail. Without the PCTA, thru-hikers, whether they be on two or four legs, would not have a trail to follow. It's that simple. Without the PCTA organizing and prioritizing sections of trail that need to be worked, the trail would no longer exist as we know it.