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Links from the Book

Greg "Malto" Gressel: Our last morning on PCT

Sound made by a mountain lion

My brother-in-law, Glenn Petersen, trudges up a mountainside in the pre-dawn darkness of Aug. 7, 2022.


After eleven years and about 150 nights on the trail, I reached Canada at 7:23 a.m. on Aug. 10, 2022. Brother-in-law Glenn Petersen and I had the monument to ourselves for a solid hour. OK, It was just us and 1.5 million mosquitoes and horseflies.


In the final days, we got great encouragement from "Etiquette" and "Bigfood," a daughter-father team from Pennsylvania. And on the last morning, who did I see as I stuck my head out my tent but "Malto," a guy we'd seen near Waldo Lake back in 2011. He was in my 2012 book, "Cascade Summer," and said someone had sent him a copy. What are the chances?


I fell in love with Hopkins Lake (above and below), six miles from the border. We stayed beside it on the night before our six-mile trip to the border and, upon our return, I swam to the middle of it in celebration of completing the trail.


My brother-in-law, Glenn Petersen, trudges up a mountainside in the pre-dawn darkness of Aug. 7, 2022.


We saw more clear, running water in the first five miles from Washington's Rainy Pass than in entire 700 miles of southern California.


The PCT is almost never flat and is sometimes dangerous, notched into shale mountainsides like this one.


Laurie, a former U.S. Forest Service employee, was a hero of mine after agreeing to take us 13 miles from Harts Pass's trailhead down Washington's most dangerous road to Mazama. Because of her, I was able to follow grandson Lincoln's quarterfinal game in the national Babe Ruth Baseball Tournament. We won and he was named MVP. Thank you, Laurie! At one point, she stopped to show us where she'd once almost gone over the edge (Below, left).


Glenn and I were recipients of an array of "Trail Magic" over the years so when I had a chance to pay it forward after the McKinney Fire in northern California, I did so. I picked up a young hiker from Sri Lanka we'd met in southern California in June, and four of his friends, after the fire stranded them in Shasta City, California. They spent the night with us in Eugene, Sally filled them with pancakes, and I took them to a trailhead near Mt. Hood.


Top: left to right, Glenn, Ann, Sally and Bob on our first double-date, backpacking at Eagle Creek in May 1974. Bottom: The same foursome, August 17, 2023, alongside the same Eagle Creek forty-nine years later.

from the PCT

Me, right, with brother-in-law Glenn Petersen atop Old Snowy in Washington's Goat Rocks Wilderness, September 2016. 

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A young deer kept running ahead of us on the trail between Burney Falls and Castle Crags in Northern California, August 2017.


PCT hikers break camp at dawn to begin their hiking day in the shadows of Mt. Adams, in southern Washington, September 2016.


Keeping my feet in decent shape is a constant challenge, though my discovery of Altra shoes has precluded disasters like this end-of-the-trail shot, right, in 2016.

Left, starting at the Mexican border in 5 a.m. darkness, 2019.  Right, one of the most depressing days on the trail turned glorious when, amid the rain of Washington, we ran across some serious "trail magic." A man whose son had completed the entire PCT the previous year was dishing out all sorts of wonderful food and drink to unsuspecting PCTers on the day after Labor Day, 2016. I ate like a sailor rescued from sea after 40 days.


In 2011, I celebrated surviving a rugged day getting around the snow-packed western shoulder of Mt. Thielsen, north of Crater Lake.

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