PCT: Day 170

PCT Washington

Miles today: 25.2
Trail miles sum: 1934.5
Trail location: 2616.8
Elevation: 6558
Spinning on the turntable: The Killers: Direct Hits

It was nice to hike today without the constant rain.

PCT Animals
Squirrel sighting

Tedium, yet again, in the continual up and down in the green tunnel.

Flowers of the PCT

These berries sure do look like cherry tomatoes! I have no idea what they are, but they look yummy.

PCT Washington
Cascades view

Many hikers all seem to be funneling into this final stretch. I’ve seen more hikers in this area then I’ve seen since early on the trail in Southern California.

Other hikers are also suffering from broken down bodies. The almost continual rain of the past week or so has accelerated the breakdown rate.

I’m not sure how I feel as I approach the Canadian border.  It’s just a jumble of thoughts and emotions.

It seems like we’ve been out here on the trail for a lifetime and it yet seems like we just started hiking yesterday.  

Today I heard hikers saying goodbye to each other.  Those that I would say goodbye to are already gone due to injuries, accelerated schedules, or completion.  

I thought I’d make close friends out here on the trail and that hasn’t happened.  It has been challenging with trying to balance van life and thru-hiking life.  Even when I have the chance to socialize at camp at night I tend to do my own thing.  

The age gap rears it’s head in so many different ways.  I’m not returning to school, looking for my first job, my first internship, etc.  In one camp I was startled that the hikers naturally separated into younger and older groups.  I was uncomfortable with the separation.  Each group was dismissive of the other group. How very strange. Together and still separated.

PCT Washington
Crest trail

Yet here I am almost at the Northern terminus of the trail and most of the older group is long gone due to injuries.  I’ve not assimilated as well as I thought I would with many of the hikers.

Some of the younger hikers do behave as entitled teenagers.  Frankly, they’re easy for me to ignore.  I drop them into that “bucket” and don’t worry about it.  Other older hikers have expressed deep frustration that the younger hikers won’t talk with them or acknowledge them.  I’ve found the same thing at times, but I don’t worry about so much.

Some of the older hikers behave as if their hiking history and knowledge is pure gold and all younger hikers should suckle up to the teat. Yawn. Some of the older hikers bore me too! I drop them into a mental bucket as well.

I spent the past few years working with millennials. If we’re willing to listen, they have much to teach us. If they’re willing to listen to us, we have a few things to teach them too. I find the “middle ground” missing at times on the trail.

PCT Washington
PCT in Washington

I believe I met a SOBO thru-hiker with the trail name of “Beansack” today.  She had a devilish grin when she introduced herself.  I played it absolutely, completely stoic and didn’t touch the name question…but I was sure curious.

PCT Washington

Getting closer to the border

Almost there…


  1. Colleen

    I was just having a conversation with friends this morning about acknowledgement (rather lack of it) in the business world. It seems that not acknowledging an email or a phone call is becoming an acceptable norm in business. Is it a generational thing? Is it an outcome of social media? You can look into someone’s life with acknowledging doing so… Could be a great conversation over margaritas at Carlita’s!

  2. Cindy Christiano

    Very impressed with your accomplishments. Cindy

    • mcgarveysan

      Thank you! Thanks for following our trek!

  3. VFat

    Best commentary yet.

    You indicate your openness to the other tribe’s model, yet the gap seems to persist regardless of good will.

    I had concerns about the possible/likely lack of connection between generations – who wants to be unacknowledged? – but concluded that whatever was going to happen was going to happen, and all I could be responsible for was demonstrable good faith and action.

    You and Noelle have struggled at times to find the right boundaries…self interest, generosity, good faith actions, tolerance, amicability…all dynamically balancing. From all appearances you’ve done a great job…no faults.

    Proud to know both of you.

    • mcgarveysan

      Thanks for the kind words! The generational gap is certainly interesting to experience. I think you hit the nail on the head with wanting to be acknowledged. Some of the older hikers have really developed an attitude when the younger hikers don’t acknowledge their presence. I find it amusing in an odd way. I never expect conversation, but a nod of the head, a grunt, something is always appreciated. The silent treatment is just weird. We’re two people in the middle of the forest. We both see each other. It’s very similar to traveling in a foreign country where two tourists won’t acknoledge each others presence. It’s just as weird.

      (I very much want to drop a few choice words on some of the younger hikers to let them know that I’m surpised that they’re still hiking considering their young age….the exact opposite of what they tell me each time they act surpised that I’m still out here!)

  4. Karen Huck

    So awesome Steve. What an accomplishment! Congrats! Same to you Noelle. Such a great thing to experience and be apart of. Karen

    • mcgarveysan

      Thanks Karen! We’re still chugging along!

  5. Mason

    Wow…thank you for all the fantastic commentary and invitation to follow your journey. I shared parts of your journey with my students and it helped to inspire them . Safe travels. Mason

    • mcgarveysan

      Hi Mason! We’re so happy that you’re following our journey. It’s been great meeting so many folks from so many different walks of life. Hope that it inspires your students to get outdoors! We’ll keep hiking if you keep reading our blog!

  6. Ian

    So odd to hear about the age separation. Our differences on the trail should fade away and the mutual goals and reasons for being out there should bond us. Hoping I don’t run into the same thing in 2020, but if I do, I will try and make a conscious effort to not fall into that trap.

    • mcgarveysan

      If I were guessing, I’d say that some of the gap is more tied to life experience than just outright discrimination. Many (most?) of the hikers recently graduated from University, so I suspect their entire social circle is other folks their own ages. Very understandale. Halfmile had some interesting statistics on the age of hikers and the younger hikers definitely make the bulk of the treking crowd.
      I do feel a little sad for some of the older hikers that are trying to fit in with the younger hikers by partying hard, pushing the miles, etc. I guess I’m just more comfortable with myself and less interested in trying to fit in and more intersted in trying to have my own authentic experience.
      ..but…I suspect that there are lots of older hikers that are having an authentic experience and still hanging out with the younger hikers. I think the daily miles maks a big difference. Older hikers tend to have more concrete limits, say 20-22 miles a day and the younger hikers may crank out 25-35 miles per day. That alone naturally creates a daily separation.


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