This post is from July 27, 2003.
Today I hiked only 9 miles as I joined Ray in the late afternoon at Snoqualmie Pass when he had already put in 27 miles that day, his birthday. I had flown out to Seattle from Boston that morning, and had driven down from Maine before that.
This is a picture of when I joined Ray, plus some day hikers who wanted to treat on ice cream:
The following is an excerpt covering this day taken from the 2018 edition of “The Pacific Crest Trail: Its Fastest Hike” [click here to view book] (note that at that time Ray had given me the trail name SUPERMAN. I have used TARman since my 2013 Total Ankle Replacement)”:
Only the final leg of my journey remained. On July 27th at 5:00 PM, Superman and I hiked north on the PCT from mile 2,396.3. We moved quickly and with purpose. My birthday present from Paul was our reunion. Having Superman accompany me for the last part of the hike meant that my hardest mental struggles lay behind me. We’d a lot of catching up to do.
As when Fish had joined me, I felt a total responsibility for Superman’s welfare. Like Fish-out-of-Water, Superman and I were the best of friends. We completely trusted our lives to one another. Superman would push himself to new limits to help me fulfill my long-term dream. Only four people truly understood how much this hike meant to me―my Mom, Superman, Fish, and Fiddlehead. Adrian and Jimbo also had pretty good ideas, as they knew about many of the risks that I’d taken. Superman’s presence and understanding would enhance my trip enormously.
When leaving Snoqualmie Pass, Superman and I found ourselves climbing. His first steps on the PCT in Washington State were uphill and a good indicator of what lay ahead. We soon passed the 2,400-mile mark―another huge milestone for me. I celebrated with a birthday smile. We traveled light and carried just two-and-a-half days’ worth of food. In our first six miles, we climbed 2,500 feet. Superman breathed hard, but responded well. We shared spectacular mountain views, and the weather kept us warm. Having my close friend with me alleviated my foot pain and mental anguish. I gushed with excitement. After a long day of travel from the East Coast, Superman must have felt tired.
Superman and I exchanged many stories, and time passed quickly. He talked about his family, farm, friends, and company, and I talked about my feet. We reflected on how lucky we’d been in our lives. Superman and I shared a deep love of life and an enormous respect for one another. We shared high energy-levels that allowed us to take on many challenges. Our friendship allowed us to dream bigger.
I wanted to erect the Squall before dark to assure us a good resting place. At least for Superman’s first evening, I didn’t want him sleeping on rocks and bushes at a 20-degree tilt.
“This flat, grassy area looks good,” I said.
“Sounds fine. I’m a little tired from the travel.”
“Let me get the Squall set up. It just takes a couple of minutes.”
The campsite easily qualified as the best one that I’d found in weeks. We stopped much earlier than I typically did. Superman had hiked a strong nine miles. My originally planned 27-miler had turned into 36. So much for 27 on the 27th. We’d gotten a jump on the last day of my schedule, which called for a 45-mile day. Now we would have to do only about 36 on the last day. The next six days required distances of 39.1, 35.9, 34.6, 35.2, 35.9, and 36.6 miles. The evening provided an outstanding starburst sunset. Superman had gotten a taste of the PCT already.
I climbed into the Squall first. Once I’d arranged my gear, Superman followed. The limited space prevented us from working simultaneously without getting in each other’s way. Once Superman had arranged his gear and had gotten settled, we chatted for a bit. He quickly tired and passed out. I looked at the ceiling of the Squall, until my eyes finally closed by themselves.