PCT: What to do?


When we began our trek in March, Noelle’s sisters were cleaning up hers dads house, holding an estate sale, and then moving him from Louisiana to an assisted living facility in Washington. It was a stressful way for Noelle to begin the trek.

Today, as I write this blog post, we’re in the beginning stages of helping my parents make the difficult transition from independent living to an assisted living facility. We’re operating in a crisis mode, so there’s boatloads of stress and anxiety for everyone.

We spent a little over a week with my parents in Colorado. We were about 24 hours away from heading to California to resume hiking when both my sister and dad made contact requesting immediate assistance. Off to Colorado we went, hiker clothes included. Doctor visits, physical rehab, social workers, assisted living facility touring…It was incredibly stressful and busy. We left one of my brothers onsite, a second brother waiting in the wings to travel to my folks and a local sister. Our “returning”goal was to rest at Noelle’s sisters house in Washington for a day and then return to the trail in California.

During our flights home from Colorado to Washington we learned that Noelle’s dad was heading into the hospital the day after our return for a heart procedure. After a week of high stress with my parents I don’t think either of us were quite prepared to be thrust into another high stress situation. It was a quiet flight home.

So now we wait. The heart procedure was delayed by a few days. I’m watching the weather at the California trail location where I want to resume hiking. Snow is in the forecast. The extremely narrow weather window is beginning to close for the season. Time is running out, or has already run out, for a thru-hike completion this season.

If I attempt to finish my thru-hike I’ll be leaving the entire next steps of my parents transition to my siblings. I feel a strong desire to be there to support my parents in this difficult time, but I also want to try to finish this thru-hike. What a mixed bag!

Social media is tough for me right now. We’re subscribed to a bucket load of PCT hiker groups and the continual images of finishers are a little painful. I want to be out there hiking.

So our current goal is to see Noelle’s dad through his surgery and then leave for the trail the following day if he’s doing ok.

Finishing the entire trail this year seems like a pipe dream at this point in time. The time off trail right now is simply devastating for scheduling due to the weather. I regret the delays in trying to finish the trail this year, but I don’t regret the delays in regards to being with our parents.

Snow is falling in the Sierra. Snow is falling in Washington and hikers have been quitting just a few days short of the Canadian border.

I’m not sure how many more miles I can actually hike before the weather shuts down the hiking season for good, but I’m going to try to reel in just a few more miles.

So come on, whatya say, wanna go for broke and hike just a tiny bit more? I’ve got a little more gas in the tank…so perhaps, just perhaps, this trek isn’t quite finished just yet.


  1. Marian Duff

    work your way day by day into the answer………..Good Luck…and you will know in your heart what is the best thing to do……….

  2. Heidi L Halverson

    GO, GO, GO. The trail may still be there, but you may not be able to do this again. Do it now. When your parents die, you will miss them the same regardless of whether you were holding their hand the moment they passed or doing something important to you. Adults are responsible for their own safety, health, and happiness. Your parents are adults and can manage. You have enriched their lives by just being and you are their legacy. They have lots of support. You bought the crampons, so put them on and go. You will not regret this, I promise you.

  3. Briget

    What Paul said is exactly what I was thinking. Both our parents (mine and husband’s) are gone now, and I miss them so much. Your parents need you now. The trail will still be there, but they may not. Sending sympathy for the difficulty you are facing!

    P.S. Probably a good idea to resist social media just now. Unsolicited advice, but there you are.

  4. Paul Wildego

    Personally, I agree with the above post and also add….Be there for your family, the trail isn’t going anywhere

  5. Anonymous

    I think you should finish your hike next summer. Yep, not the advice you’re looking for, but the best advice you’re gonna get. Once snow starts to fall in the Sierra Nevada, the roads to Onion Valley, Horseshoe Meadows, etc will close for the year. This usually happens in October. This will make re-supply very challenging. The conditions can easily turn icy and snowy, which is why you skipped this section in the first place. Correct? Please be safe and make the right decision here.

  6. rosiewalking

    What a journey with all the ups and downs and arounds and back and fourths. You have a store of flexibility so on you go…………….I will be reading along the way.

  7. Chris Leedle

    Steve, Life always throws these stressful times at us. So many choices, which is the right one? Your heart will tell you and whatever you choose is the right choice. Whichever choice you make you will always second guess, but once the choice is made enjoy it with all your heart without regret.

    Your family will always be with you and back you no matter what you do. If you continue your hike I will continue to enjoy reading this blog. If you choose not to, for many reasons I can see in your post, then so be it. Just continue to enjoy life.

  8. cmacfoley

    I’m sure your family is 100% behind you in finishing this journey. I’ve been waiting to see if that blue arrow on the Garmin app showed up in California and am delighted that I have more blog posts to read every morning! Be well…

  9. Anonymous

    “Lead me Lord”. You’ll come up with the right decision 💗. Transitions are so hard for our aging parents, and their families. You are all in our prayers. 💕🙏

    Liz from FresnoRetro

  10. VFat

    Whichever you chose was right.

    At this point everyone considers you a done-deal PCT thru-hiker.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *