PCT: Day 192: In it to win it! Part 2

PCT Southbound

Miles today: 20
Trail miles sum: 2016.8
SOBO Trail location: 1322.8
Elevation: 5051
Spinning on the turntable: Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466. Seong-Jin Cho

While I was hiking in the afternoon I had cell reception for a few moments.

PCT Southbound
River crossings

I saw 30+ messages that were bouncing around between my siblings. The week was not progressing as effectively or as rapidly as we had hoped for moving my parents towards assisted living. I sat on a rock, in the glorious sunshine, on the side of a mountain, and swapped messages with my siblings. I then hiked on.

PCT Southbound
2000 miles

Earlier today I hit a milestone. 2000 miles. The silence in the forest was absolute. I loved it. It was so different than the 1000 mile experience. Today, hitting 2000 miles filled me with appreciation that I’m still here, able to hike, and healthy.

Yesterday was about proving to myself that I could still crank out the miles. Today was contemplative. The music was more meditative, my thoughts more contemplative.

As Noelle and I walked to the van together she filled me in on the phone calls and messages that I had missed during the day that were related to my parents.

I looked around the trail and decided this location would do, this is a good spot to terminate our PCT thru-hike attempt.

We lost the weather window in the Sierra last week, it’s already snowing and hikers are exiting the trail. I can’t continue to hike in good conscience knowing that I have no chance of completing the trail this year. If I wish to complete the trail, it will be in a year other than this year.

We reached the van and shed our packs. I told Noelle I was done. Noelle was stunned when I said it was time to spread Buddy’s remaining ashes and call it a day.

We walked back out onto the trail about a quarter mile and selected a good tree. We chatted about Buddy and then spread his remaining ashes.

Honoring hiker-trash tradition we drank from our shoes. Noelle went first and I learned what to do:

PCT Southbound
Noelle shoe drinking

clean the shoe before pouring the beverage into it! I removed my shoe, removed the insert, banged out the sand and dirt and then poured in my beverage. It wasn’t bad!

PCT Southbound
Steve shoe drinking

Boom! (Dear Chainsaw Manlove, the ball is in your court! Please feel free to post your shoe drinking picture in the comments below! Actually, we’re game to see any shoe drinking pictures that any of our readers are willing to share!)

PCT Southbound
A bittersweet moment

And so, today, on day 192, after a unremarkable, yet remarkable day of hiking, we called it a wrap on our 2019 PCT thru-hike attempt.


  1. Ashley

    That is so gross, as if the camping weren’t enough to dissuade me from trying to thru hike PCT, this would be plenty. 😀
    You two are so amazing and so strong for getting through this most incredible adventure. I can’t wait to see you both again and give you high fives and hugs!

  2. Heidi L Halverson

    “Mr. Worldwide to infinity
    You know the roof on fire
    …I saw, I came, I conquered
    Or should I say, I saw, I conquered, I came
    …Walk this way
    If you think I’m burning out, I’m never am
    I’m on fire
    Fireball” – Pitbull

    You’re on fire! So glad you made it to 2000. Yes, just a number but seems so much more than 19XX. It’s about the journey, not the destination. I think you came to believe that you could do it and that is what you needed. So glad you ended on your terms, not forced to end because of obstacle out of your control. Continue to be grateful.

    Hiking 20+ miles with a pack on for just one day is a huge feat. The Steve I knew – a one-time DJ lackey, who drank hot coffee through a straw to appease his oral & nicotine fixation – was ever-weary, annoyed, and easily intimidated, and could never have completed 2000 miles of backpacking and living in nature. I think you used to sell yourself short and maybe you always have. Personal growth happens when we are focused on something else. So happy for you, inspired by you. Thank you for sharing this side of you.

    “The view we enjoyed from the summit could hardly be surpassed in sublimity and grandeur; but one feels so far from home so high in the sky, so much so that one is inclined to guess that, apart from the acquisition of knowledge and the exhilaration of climbing, more pleasure is to be found at the foot of the mountains than on their tops. Doubly happy, however, is the man to whom lofty mountain tops are within reach, for the lights that shine there illumine all that lies below.” – John Muir.

    I believe the mountain tops are within your reach. Good luck to you in your future endeavors.

    – Heidi

  3. Gregory Fast

    I wept tears of joy for the two of you as I read this post! Love, Gregory

  4. Anonymous

    As I’ve said before you are amazing!! As for drinking from my shoe, I’ll have to search for my cleanest and least worn one in my closet. Haha. Seriously, thank you for all the posts you shared. The pictures are amazing. I so enjoyed seeing all the beautiful places of God’s creation.


    Liz from FresnoRetro

  5. chainsawmanlove

    It sounds like you found the moment you were searching for as you closed in on the Northern Terminus, Steve. Congratulations to you both for such a great journey.

    I don’t believe that you can post photos in the comments section (or I don’t know how). But you should see a profile pic with me completing your request (less than 3 hrs ago!). The guy that took the video thought I was one weird gaijin! Hard to find Fireball over here. So, I hope sake still counts.

    I’ll certainly miss making comments on your bowel movements and the grand pictures of mountains. I hope your next steps in life contain mountains of grand pictures and bm’s.

    Best Wishes,

  6. Colleen

    Crap! I already knew that you had made the decision to bring an end to your PCT adventure, yet this post brought tears to my eyes. Then I laughed, wondering if it was Fireball that you drank from your shoe! My hat’s off to you both for following your dream and making them reality! ❤️

  7. Cheryl c

    👏 2000 ain’t bad!!! Better than getting hurt in sierras. I enjoyed your journey. Take care if your folks. And you noelle have a great life. Maybe we will meet on the trail one day. You help inspire me to hike this coming year. Let’s see if I get a permit.

  8. matt Denham

    What an amazing accomplishment. Thanks for sharing the experience with us. Looking forward to getting together with you to hear more.

    Talk soon.


  9. Karen Huck

    Congrats! If I was there I’d be jumping up and down and clapping! No shoe drinking for me. Your next journey I suppose is the parents. It’s hard but enjoy every moment you can. The Sierras will be the next year!


  10. Anonymous

    Congrats! You did it! Amazing journey! 2000+ miles is a feat! You not know what pioneers might feel like. True thru-hikers.

  11. Anonymous

    What an amazing adventure. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Chris

    Congratulations! I enjoyed following your story – thanks so much!

  13. VFat

    Love you guys. You are thru-hikers.



  1. The dream versus reality of traveling for one year - Steve and Noelle - […] our PCT hike abruptly ended we were left in a weird head space. We didn’t celebrate. There was no…

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