PCT SoBo: and so it goes…

PCT Southbound

Noelle here:

PCT Southbound

Huge trees

Steve and I ambled along, making our way back to the van.

He read the group texts from his siblings and the individual texts I had with them separately. I told him about the hikers who’d ended their hike that day due to weather.

We hiked along. I could tell he was processing. Steve’s a thinker. He doesn’t make quick decisions. He analyzes data from all angles. Sometimes I judge that he’s a procrastinator and then I realize that he’s simply taking the time to make the best decision he can for not only himself but also for us. I know that once he speaks a decision aloud, it is clear for him.

We got to the van and I started my normal routine, changing from hiking clothes back into a little better-smelling evening clothes. I started moving lawn chairs and backpacks around, preparing for the night. Steve said, “Well I guess we should get Buddy”. I just looked at him. He said because our hiker friends, who were much closer to finishing, realized the weather was stopping them, he knew that his window of opportunity for a full thru hike had also been closed. There wasn’t a way to safely complete all of his remaining miles. Since that was the case, Steve recognized the need to return to Colorado with his parents.

On a beautiful sunny day, after only two days back in California, we came to the end of our journey on the Pacific Crest Trail.

So we got the small remaining bag of Buddy’s ashes & two little bottles of Fireball and we headed back into the woods.

PCT Southbound

Steve with Buddy’s ashes

We said a few words. We remembered spreading some of our little dog’s ashes on the Rainbow Bridge. We thanked him for being the best fur friend imaginable. And we emptied the bag under a beautiful tree.

Leaving a little of our hearts behind

Oh how I miss that little ball of fur. I know he traveled this trail with us. I know he laughed when we walked through rain and cheered when we reached milestones along the way.



So many awesome memories we’ve made this summer. So many beautiful people. I couldn’t be more appreciative of this opportunity. Yes, I want Steve to finish. Yes, I don’t want this to end. But also, yes, I believe going back to his parents is necessary and right.

We celebrated for a bit. It may have involved drinking Fireball out of our shoes. I can’t believe some of the things I let that gorgeous man talk me into. 😂

PCT Southbound

A bittersweet moment

We headed back to the van and Steve drafted a text for our kids and close friends.

“Hi All-After 2016.8 miles we’ve called it a wrap on our PCT thru-hike attempt. Unfortunately we lost the weather window in the Sierra Mountains. Other hikers that we know are bailing off the trail due to the snow and temperatures. If we can’t complete the journey this year, we really see no reason to keep slogging along.

We had two great days of hiking in California. It was a much better way to end this journey than in the cold and wet and miserable Washington.

Thank you for your amazing support and love on our journey.

We’re going to head back to Colorado Springs…but first we’re going to find some

Mexican food.

Love to all-”

And with that, we drove off in the search of Mexican food…


  1. VFat

    So you too went though a Vonnegut phase…

    • mcgarveysan

      If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

  2. wickmanslostinamerica

    i’m having a hard time coming up with the right sentiment…congratulations doesn’t quite capture the scope of your accomplishment! You have done something that so few others have done both physically and mentally. And you have invited us along the way. I feel as if you are both friends and hope that someday our paths may cross. Im happy your journey ended on a high in sunny beautiful surroundings and it was on your terms…no injury forcing you off the trail. You’ve made the right decision for all the right reasons. Tonight i’ll toast you with a margarita and wish you Godspeed on the next chapter!

  3. cmacfoley

    My heart sings for you two. Wow – how sappy was that?!?!? But, it is the first thing that came to mind when I finished reading this post. Patrick and I can’t wait to spend some time with you, watching the two of you banter back and forth telling stories of the trail. You really are a magical couple! Blessings to you and your family. Blessings as you plan the next adventure!


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