My connection to the Pacific Crest Trail is 3 fold. First and foremost, I am a user of the PCT. I day hike sections, backpack other sections and trail run some sections. It is one of my go to trails when I seek solitude, or need the spiritual healing that the trail and forest always offer, or on other sections seeing many others with smiles on their faces and me knowing they too are receiving the benefits that being on trail offers. The PCT is a very well designed trail (and I should know, I am a retired professional trail consultant) and maintained trail. The mastery of the build on so many sections may not be noticed by all, but it certainly is one of the many things that catch my attention as I travel and enjoy the PCT.
Secondly, I am a trail maintainer. I try and give back to the PCT a few days per year along with much other volunteer trail work I do around Bend OR. I help with chainsaw log out on sections outside of Wilderness as I am USFS chainsaw certified (a 2 day course). I help teach trail skills to other volunteers at the annual Allingham Trails College put on by PCTA and the USFS. I am always happy to share my knowledge and experience with others and inspire them to give back and do good work. Though most of the PCT is well designed with sustainable alignments, all trails need maintenance and more often than not that work is performed by hard working volunteers.
And lastly I am a PCT hiker trail angel. I do many shuttles for hikers to and from Bend from several different local trailheads. I never ask for money for gas, but instead ask my passengers to donate to PCTA and/or donate some time back home to local trail maintenance efforts. I love getting to know different hikers even for a brief amount of time. So many of them are international and enjoying what is truly an amazing American experience, a wonderful long distance trail running mostly on public lands. I see how the trail is transforming their lives; despite its many challenges they are have the experiences of their life in hiking this trail.
The trail is not only physically and mentally challenging, but it is also hard on gear. Tents, packs, clothing all take a beating and there can be problems ranging from zippers, to holes and rips, to broken buckles on packs, seams separating and more. And this is where Rugged Thread comes into this story. As a Trail Angel, I always ask hikers if they need any gear repairs as I am driving back to Bend from the trailhead. I have dropped off a number of hikers at Rugged Thread for needed repairs knowing the repairs will be done in a timely manner to get them back on trail and with excellent customer service. Kim and her team are amazing and a true asset to Bend and to hikers passing through. I have used Rugged Thread for years now on many of my repair and modifications to gear and clothing and have always been very impressed. Kim and team will be at PCT Days offering free gear repair to hikers, what a wonderful service to the PCT community. Thanks Rugged Thread.
Guest post by Woody Keen.