PCT: Days 38, 39 and 40

PCT Wrightwood

We spent the past three days hanging out and taking it easy so that Noelle could recover from a UTI.

We’re in a motel in the middle of nowhere. There’s a gas station, McDonalds and a Del Taco. We Ubered to a nearby town and did a little shopping and saw a movie.

PCT Day 38 39 40

I finally got the Cobra insurance sorted out once I was able to use a laptop instead of my cell phone to cough up roughly $1,500 for May’s coverage. (Mind you, having paid three days ago, the “system” still indicates we have no coverage, so we’re still paying cash for our meds.)

We’ve discussed how “real” to be in this blog, and this is real topic for us, so we’ll chat about it with you. As much as we may want to pretend, we’re a far cry from 20 years old and we feel rather strongly about maintaining our medical insurance. We know that a lot of younger PCT hikers roll the dice with no health insurance and hope for the best. To us, not having medical insurance seems like an unreasonable risk at this stage of our lives. We’re loosely planning to use Cobra throughout the thru-hike attempt and then eyeball jumping towards the open health insurance market plans later this year.

When I started investigating insurance plans in Oregon I was quite surprised to find that many companies DO prohibit pre-existing conditions. Reading the news I thought this was something that’s being hammered out in the political process. Um, no, looks like insurance companies are already taking care of it themselves (when you read the fine print).

We’re not so anxious to jump into the fray and try to sort it out just yet. We have pre-existing conditions. We understood the insurance costs and risks of leaving our jobs. This is a pay to play scenario and we’ve chosen to play, so we seek no sympathies. There may be an interesting correlation to the folks we meet on the trail. Thus far most of the couples we meet on the trail are European. Not all, but most. I wonder if health insurance plays into the equation?

When we cast an eye towards pre-existing health conditions I am curious how far the American insurance companies will be allowed to push the coverage boundaries. At some level, we all have pre-existing conditions. Diabetes run in you family? Cancer? Dementia? Bad knees? Hips? As our technological ability to identify “bad” generational family genes increases will insurance companies be allowed to limit coverage? No cancer coverage for you since your grandmother had cancer! What a curious time we live in. Today I am thankful that we have the ability to pay to play. We are incredibly fortunate and we don’t forget it for a single second!

I’m not good at sitting in a hotel room and watching TV for days on end. I’m anxious to get back on the trail. I’m fidgety. There’s literally nothing to do here. I think the next time one of us needs a few days off trail we’ll stay somewhere that’s more centrally located in a town. We saved about $50 a night by coming back to the hotel that’s close to the trail, but spent about $50 a day in Uber fees to reach civilization.

Anyway, I’m ready to walk. Tomorrow looks like a vertical grind.


  1. Marian Duff

    Well done Steve and Noelle, I am with you on that trail. Health Insurance……here in Ireland we have a two system health cover. If you earn below a certain ceiling you will get whats called your “Medical Card” and that covers you for all your medical care. You may have to wait a long while for a knee, hip replacement or you could opt to go to Northern Ireland or UK and have it done. The Private Insurance in Ireland is voluntary at the moment and about 50% of the population have it. One would need a degree in “health insurance” to get the best deal out of it. It is so complex. Even if you have PHI it will still cost you money. When we hear the cost of health insurance in USA we are horrified. Have a day of abundance and Joy!

  2. Chainsaw Manlove

    Rolling the dice with no coverage for this experience would be much too risky. One little slip could cost too much in many ways.

    In other news, I read health insurance companies are denying coverage to anyone who eats at McDonald’s for all 3 square meals and then hikes 20+ miles the next day.

  3. Angus

    Thanks for the discussion. Health care is a big problem here and it will take a long time and significant changes to bring us to the place most developed countries are at now.


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