About eleven months ago, I ran into a couple of thru-hikers as I approached Kennedy Meadows on the PCT. I was coming off the end of a super-hot section of the Mojave with little or no water, and they were south-bound.
In SoCal, mostly hiking earlier in the year, heading north I hadn’t met many southbounders, hadn’t seen hikers that experienced: these two looked ready for the Sahara. Or anything.
We stopped for a minute and I asked a question or two and Dormouse plopped down on the trail without a second’s hesitation to dig something out of her pack as I learned her name and her husband Dirt Stew’s. They seemed as comfortable in the raw desert wilderness as if it were their living room. I was pretty amazed by these two — sort of an exotic species for me. They made an impression and I asked a question or two.
About a month ago I ran across an excellent story about their journey that Dormouse wrote up for the PCTA Association: much of it sticks in my memory still. For instance, in Oregon for a week or two they passed hordes of northbounders. Dormouse wrote:
To them, we were a rare sighting, but to us, they seemed like an endless parade. There is something funny about the moment when a northbounder and a southbounder cross paths. Together we have completed an entire thru-hike and yet we do not have a single shared experience of the trail. It makes for both helpful and frustrating conversations. I think hikers have selective memories, and a lot of the information we got from northbound hikers was false.
True. You have to consider the source, and realistically, on the trail you rarely can with any certainty.
Reading this put me on to their blog, which includes good journaling about their trip. Well, turns out my questions and curiousity awoke something in themselves as well, which they wrote up!
We hiked out in full ninja-hiker gear with shirts around our faces in order to protect ourselves from the sun and wind, and ran into a northbound section hiker who said “you guys must be thru-hikers”. “How’d you guess?” we asked. “Well, you look like you’ve walked almost 2000 miles!” He replied. “Can I take your picture?”. “Sure!” We answered. As he left I said to Dirt Stew: “Let’s take a picture of ourselves! It’s the first time someone’s told us we look like we’re thru-hikers who’ve hiked 2000 miles!” We snapped a picture at arm’s length and looked at ourselves on the little screen. We looked a lot like we did only 100 miles in. We were covered from head to toe so as not to get sun burned.
Here’s the picture I took of them: