Pacific Crest Trail
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Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail spans three states, California, Oregon and Washington in its 2,650 mile length. In 2002, I began my thru-hike of the PCT, but was forced off the trail while in the Sierras by an episode of giardia.  In 2003, I completed the thru-hike, having walked the entire distance from Mexico to Canada via the Pacific Crest Trail.

Information on the PCT is available at the website of the Pacific Crest Trail Association .

 

  • Starting Point
  • Lake Morena
  • Rick Kuglow
  • First campsite
  • Not roses
  • Warner Springs
  • Memorial for Don
  • Eagle Rock
  • Geezer and Cape Town Jenny
  • Tapeworm
  • Gottago and Bug
  • At Big Bear
  • Silverwood Lake
  • View of the trail
  • Hiker Heaven
  • Hikers in the rain
  • Harry
  • Blisters
  • Mojave
  • Phil and Chaz
  • Whitney
  • River
  • Windmill Farm
  • Luann
  • Snow
  • Lake
  • Trail in Sierra
  • Sierra river
  • PCT in snow
  • Grave Digger
  • Chuck Dorn
  • Our Home
  • Forest
  • Ann
  • Mountain crest
  • Desolation Wilderness
  • Lake in Desolation Wilderness
  • Peter Grub Hut
  • Jane
  • Campsite
  • Crazier Than Me
  • Forester
  • John and Julie
  • Mather
  • Muir Pass
  • Hikers Sierra
  • After a snowfall
  • Chicken Springs Lake
  • Swingbridge
  • Garlic Man
  • Evolution Valley
  • Etna
  • Bikers
  • Twice around
  • Bear
  • Mt. Shasta
  • Oregon
  • Wall
  • Gene Monroe
  • Wickiup Plain
  • Crater Lake
  • Mt. Thielsen
  • Burn
  • Mel and Laraine
  • Oregon campsite
  • Our Children
  • Lava
  • Three Fingered Jack
  • My personal bodyguards
  • Heather Lake
  • Ryan Lake
  • Bridge of the Gods
  • Mt. Adams
  • Washington relatives
  • Mt Rainier
  • Glacier Mountain
  • Llamas
  • Commodore, Bob & Dave
  • Commodore, Walt & Me
  • Commodore at the border
  • Me at the border
 

Crater Lake, OR

First hiker going south

7/25/03 (32.5 miles hiked)
Crater Lake was beautiful. But other than that there isn’t much to see or do, so I was on my way north. Again, not a great scenic hiking day. Mt. Thielsen was neat. I saw the first hiker going south today, Dan. He was excited about finally meeting north bound hikers. I camped at what is the highest point I’ll be at for the rest of the journey, at 7,550 feet. It sure doesn’t compare to the Sierras when you’re at or above 10,000 feet most of the time.

Said goodbye without Rick

4/26/02
I arrived in San Diego at 10:30 A.M. with my partner, Rick Klugow. Walt, a friend of my sister, Clarice and her husband Ron met us at the airport and planned to give us a ride to the trail starting point in Campo, California, but we had one slight problem.  Rick’s backpack did not arrive. After much deliberation it was decided Fred and his buddy Walt would take me to the starting point and they would bring Rick to the kickoff gathering at Morena Lake when his pack arrived.
After all the delays, Fred and Walt got me to Campo at about 2:45 P.M. I couldn’t believe the weather. I expected hot and dry, instead it was rainy and 45 degrees. I thought I was in the Boundary Waters.
Took a photo with Walt and Fred, said goodbye and was off. (Fred and Walt were two great guys. I owe them a lot. I’ll try and stay in touch with them as I go.) I walk about fourteen miles and make camp about an hour after dark. I feel good and look forward to tomorrow.

Rick showed up

4/27/02
Awoke about 6:00 A.M. and headed for Lake Morena, about six miles away. (Lake Morena is the place the annual kickoff event is held for Pacific Crest Trail hikers.) I hiked about two miles up a mountain and realized I left my glasses back at camp. Had to run back down to get them. Once I got back up to the top, I also realized I left my sunglasses hanging on a branch …. did not go back! Arrived at Morena Lake at about 9:30 A.M.
The Pacific Crest Trail Association puts on a great organizational party at Lake Morena. There are about 170 people here consisting of hikers, past hikers, etc. We all learned a lot about the trail, especially where the water was going to be when crossing the 700 hundred miles of desert we were about to encounter.
I met some very nice people here. Brian Robinson was one. He’s the guy that walked all three trails last year, the PCT, Appalachian, and Continental Divide, over 7,000 miles.  I went to lunch with one of the organizers of the gathering. He’s called Strider and eventually, before we left the next day, gave me my trail name, “Coach”.
Rick showed up with Fred and Walt at about 5:30 P.M. He had to buy all new gear in San Diego, because his pack never came. He made arrangements, if it comes, to have it shipped to Warner Springs, our first stop about four days down the road. I feel bad, but he seems to be handling it okay.

The naming of Dew Dew

4/28/02
Rick and I started out at about 8:30 A.M. We put in 17.5 miles and made camp at a small creek. Rick carried no water. Instead he had four liters of Mountain Dew! I arrived at the campsite at about 4:00 P.M. with about ten other hikers. They were all talking about this crazy guy drinking Mountain Dew instead of water. It was hard to tell them he was my partner! Rick arrived at about 6:00 P.M. just beat. After a few laughs he was quickly given the trail name; DEW Man. Then he opens his pack and pulls out another two liters of Mountain Dew. Everyone broke up. Gottago, a lady in the group, renamed him: DEW DEW!

Coach smells the roses

4/29/02
A group of us are now pretty much hiking together until we get to Warner Springs. Everyone wants to stay close because it’s all new to us and we’re not sure of our water sources. I’ve made some good friends during these five days. Geezer Bill, Gottago, Cape Town Jenny, Special K Kevin, Dew Dew Rick and myself hiked most of this section together.
It was also during this stretch I was forced to slow down and smell the roses! More than once people would say, “Coach, look up once in a while and enjoy the moment.”
We all arrived in Warner Springs on May 2nd. It was a great spot to clean up and wash clothes. It was a small golf resort in middle of nowhere with hot springs and small cabins. Very relaxing. Rick also got his pack here and decided to hike on rather than stay. I told him I’d catch up to him sometime tomorrow, because I had to go to a near town and get some sandals. I was starting to get blisters and was hoping sandals would help.

My first 30-mile day

5/3/02
It was time to say good-bye to the group I was traveling with. They knew I wanted to go faster so we parted our ways and I was off to catch Rick. I’ll miss them, but it’s a long trip and maybe I’ll see them again.
I put in my first 30-mile day and caught Rick at sunset. He was glad to see me. Along the way I made a little memorial for my brother. He was killed in a car accident at age 16 and May 3rd is his birthday. Seldom a day goes by that I don’t think of him.

Rick and I split up

5/4/02
Rick and I hiked together until noon. The heat was really getting to him and he knew he couldn’t keep the same pace that I wanted to. He told me to go ahead. It was hard to leave, but we both knew we had to hike our own hikes or it wasn’t going to be any fun. He planned to hike when he could and maybe catch a ride and meet me up ahead. He wasn’t as interested in hiking the whole trail like I was; he’s just out to enjoy the time in the wilderness.
I made another 30 plus miles today and made camp overlooking Palm Springs. What a beautiful view.

Blisters down to the bone

5/5/02

I have about sixteen miles to go to Idyllwild. I need to get new shoes. Blisters on my heels are almost down to the bone. Upland, I was looking down on golf courses in Palm Springs all day today. Tough to see!
Today I also made a non typical Larry Hoff move. I had the choice of going down a mountain about two miles to get water or try and make it to Idyllwild on a half liter of water. I can’t believe I went and got the water. Sharon, I must have been listening to you and Rick. It would not have been a pretty sight if I hadn’t. It was a tough uphill stretch. Anyway, I made it to Idyllwild in two and a half days, one day early.
I’m going to rest a day and let the blisters heal. I did get new shoes.
I’ll write again when I get to Big Bear City. I miss all of you, but this is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. I hope the adventure continues to be a good one.

Waiting for the rest to come

5/7/02
Started at 5:30 A.M. and hiked approximately 30 miles to what is called the Pink Motel outside Cabozon, California. Ten of us stayed the night at the Pink Motel, which is a shack on a hill over looking Interstate 10.
Hikers I stayed with were Frank, Cupcake, Brent, Geoff, Greg, Load, Chris, Phil, and Chucky. Chucky is a professional iron man competitor – one of the top performers in the U.S.A. One of his best friends is Lance Armstrong . Phil is from Australia – very intelligent. He’s working on building intelligent robots. Robots that learn from each other. Very fascinating and way beyond me.
The ten of us pretty much stayed together for the three-day hike to Big Bear City. Two 25-mile plus days and one 10-mile day. The young fellows were testing this old man on the first day of this section. They’d heard about this old guy doing the 30-mile days and were wondering if I could really do it. I had to take care of my blisters before I left and they had about a half hour lead on me. At about 9:30 A.M. they saw me coming over a hill and the race was on! To make a long story short, at the end of the day two others and myself were waiting for the rest to come into camp. I guess I earned their respect that day!
For the rest of this section, Chris, a young man in his twenties, Phil, the man from Australia, and myself pretty much stayed together. We had a great time and became good friends.
Had to get another pair of shoes. My blisters were not improving.

Little things in a big world

5/11/02
Taking it easy today. Letting my feet heal and will start out for Wrightwood sometime this afternoon.
The group I hiked with for the last three days were great guys. We’ll probably scatter out some now. Hopefully we’ll continue to meet along the way. Before they left, Chris and Brent said they called home and told their fathers about this old guy that was running them into the ground, hoping to get their fathers to hike with them later in the trip. They think they got them talked into it.
The trip continues to be more than what I expected. Hopefully the feet continue to heal so I don’t have that worry. But – as my buddy Charlie Wright says, “You can’t let little things bother you in a big world.”
I hope everyone is doing okay back home. You don’t have to worry about me – the word is out - everyone is picking up the things I forget and making sure I don’t wander off in the wrong direction.
Will update again at Agua Dulce.
Afternoon
Left Big Bear City at 2:00 P.M. heading for Wrightwood, 104.2 miles away. Had a nice leisurely 12-mile walk and made camp.  

With Ironman, Tapeworm and Gottago

5/12/02
Broke camp early. This was one of the best days I’ve had on the trail. About mid-morning I ran into “Ironman” Chucky, “Tapeworm” Chris, and “Gottago” Linda. The four of us traveled most of the day together, laughing and joking all the way. A very comfortable 28-mile day.

Nude hot springs and level terrain

5/13/02
Another great day. At about 10:00 A.M. I came to Deep Creek Hot Springs. This was a nude hot springs! I took in the “sights” for a while and was on my way, figuring a 58-year-old man was not going to add much to the scenery.
The terrain was fairly level for the rest of day and I was able to get in a 25-plus-mile day. I made camp at a very remote spot on Silverwood Lake. Great spot.

Made it to the top

5/14/02
This was a tough day! It was all uphill starting at 3,000 feet and climbing to over 8,000 feet. I made this a challenge day. I wasn’t going to let the mountain beat me. Ended up hiking late into the night, but made it to the top after a 32 mile walk. (I kept thinking of my friend Chuck Dorn, I knew he wouldn’t quit until he made it to the top!)

Uphill section over

5/15/02

Made it to Wrightwood. This tough uphill section was over.

Meet the trail angels

5/16/02
The goal now is to get to Agua Dulce in three days, which is about 75 miles away. I want to get there as soon as possible on the 18th, so I can take care of my blisters with the idea of resting until Monday the 20th.
I made it in two and a half days by putting in a couple of big 30-plus days.
Donna and Jeff Saufley are the “trail angels” in Agua Dulce. They are probably regarded as the best “trail angels” on the trip. They do everything possible to help you: sleeping quarters in a trailer house, Donna washes your clothes, phone and computer service and a car they allow hikers to use to go shopping.

Heading for Mojave

5/19/02
This has been a great rest time at the Saufley’s. My feet are starting to heal! I’ve met many new hikers of all ages here. It just amazes me the quality of people I’m meeting.
My Australian friend, Phil, also showed up today. He and I, along with Chaz, a Canadian friend who’s my age, will start out early tomorrow heading for Mojave about 100 miles away. We want to make it in four days if we can.
Now is when it starts to get hot. We will be crossing the Mojave desert, trying to get to Kennedy Meadows about 245 miles away. Kennedy Meadows is a key place for it’s the starting point of the High Sierras.  

Not a desert day

5/20/02

Phil, Chaz, and I left Agua Dulce at about 6:00 A.M. We met Anne and Lee in about an hour and walked on and off with them for the rest of the day. This was NOT a desert day. It was about 35 degrees and raining.

Harry joins us

5/21/02
We stayed at “trail angel” hosts, Terri and Joe’s last night. This was a good thing because everything was wet from the night before.
Today we hiked over 35 miles. There was not much up and down and the weather was cool. We couldn’t believe we were in the Mojave Desert.
Harry joined us today. He finishes his hike tomorrow when we reach the town of Mojave. Last year he hiked from Mojave to Canada.

My feet paid for it

5/22/02
Still cool. We finished hiking to the town of Mojave at about 10:00 A.M. We stayed at the White’s Motel. Nice to be able to clean up and have some real food again. Although we were able to put on a lot of miles the last two days, my feet really paid for it. A lot of the hiking was on the Los Angeles aqua duct, which was a very hard surface.

We limped along

5/23/02
We left Mojave at 6:30 A.M. starting our last four days of the desert, heading to Kennedy Meadows. The weather had warmed up a lot. That plus my right ankle had really swollen from the aqua duct walk made this the toughest day so far. We only made 16 miles today. Both Chaz and myself limped along most of the day.

More like the desert

5/24/02
We started out at 6:00 A.M. My ankle is a little better – toughed it out for about a 25-mile hike. Weather is now more like the desert – hot.

Walking through the foot pain

5/25/02
Another hot, tough 27-plus-mile day. A lot of up and down hiking. Again, just walking through the foot pain.

Three crazy old men

5/26/02
A much better day. My ankle was feeling better and by noon I was even jogging and skipping along a little. After dinner we got our first sight of the Sierras and also came to our real first river in almost 700 miles, the Kern.
We arrived at Kennedy Meadows at about 4:00 P.M. The last four days were not much fun because of the heat and foot problems. I feel sorry for all behind us. A record heat wave is coming. In fact it looks as though everyone who started at the kickoff when we did are behind us. Word has reached us that we’re the “Three crazy old men!”

A clear view of Mt. Whitney

5/27/02
We started the first day of hiking the Sierras at 6:00 A.M. The sights are now very beautiful. Even though we have to climb to over 10,500 feet it’s not as bad as the last four days, except my ankle hurts a little again, must have twisted it while skipping yesterday. At about 1:00 P.M. we reached a mountain pass and saw a real clear view of Mt. Whitney. What a sight. Things are picking up again!

Please drive my car

5/28/02
A great day of hiking in the Sierras. We are hiking between 8,000 and 11,000 feet. Very little snow and the views are great.
We reached the campground above Lone Pine at about noon. We need to re-supply at Lone Pine. Chaz has been worried all day because the campground is 22 miles from Lone Pine and a 6,000-foot drop in elevation. Because it was in the middle of the week few people would be around and he didn’t think we’d be able to get a ride down to Lone Pine. I told him not to worry, things will work out. He just kept mumbling. Anyway, when we got to the trail head leading to Lone Pine, there was this note pinned to a tree. It said, “PCT hikers, if you are going to Lone Pine would you please drive my car down. I’ll pick it up at the Ranger Station when I finish my hike!” I looked at Chaz and he was just shaking his head. I told him it was just another day in the life of Larry Hoff.
Our plans were to take a day off in Lone Pine to rest, which all three of us needed. Also, it was time for us to go our separate ways for awhile. Phil and Chaz are two of the nicest people I’ve met. It seems like I’ve known them for a lot longer than just a few weeks. It will be tough not hiking with them, but all three of us know it’s time to do our own thing for awhile. I’ve gained two great friends and I hope we’ll meet again somewhere along the trail.
The one rest day turned into two days for me. I found out my wife, LuAnn, is in the hospital and needs gall bladder surgery. I’ll stay here in Lone Pine until I’m sure everything is okay.

LuAnn is well

5/31/02
LuAnn’s surgery went well so I’m off to Vermillion Valley Resort. It’s supposed to take six or seven days because of the high altitude and snow in the mountain passes. I hope to do it in about five days if the snow isn’t too bad. My feet feel great. Except for a little upset stomach I feel as good as I have the whole trip.
I’m not sure I can send notes out of Vermillion Resort, if not, it will be another 3 or 4 days to Tuolumne Meadows, which is a small town just short of the 1,000 mile mark.
Hopefully the ice in the passes and the bears (a lot of bear in this area) are not a problem. At least I do not have to worry about water anymore. This is also one of the most beautiful sections to hike through.
Again, I miss everyone back home. I enjoy getting your e-mails and voice mails. It really lifts me up in the lonesome times.

Lots of snow

6/1/02
I got a ride out of Independence to Kearsarge Pass trail, which got me back on the Pacific Crest Trail. Glen Pass (11,978 ft) was the big challenge today. Lots of snow to hike through. I do not have an ice axe so I must be careful. It’s a long way down! I did pick up some ice walking cleats in Lone Pine if I need them. The scenery is unbelievable. I think I made about 21 miles today.

Must be getting old

6/2/02
Tough hike today. I crossed Pinchot Pass and Mather Pass. Again snow and ice . It’s beautiful, but dangerous. Everything is above 10,000 feet. For the first time the altitude started to affect me. I feel weak and still have a little upset stomach. Must be getting old. I had to walk until dark today in order to get in any miles.

Above 10,000 feet

6/3/02
Another tough first half of the day. Lots of hiking above 10,000 feet and then I dropped down to about 8,000 feet and out of the snow. Still a little weak. I hope I’m not getting sick.

Going too fast

6/4/02
Made it all the way to Vermillion Valley Resort. I think I put in over 32 miles today. I took some imodium for my stomach today, which seems to help. Selden Pass was a bit of a challenge today. It was only 10,900 feet but lots of snow. The tracks I was following were no longer there so I just played it by ear. Made it!
Vermillion Valley Resort is a neat place. It’s at the far end of a six mile lake when you come down out of the mountains. They have a pontoon boat that comes and picks you up and takes you to the resort. Everything is very remote. They have a gas generator that produces their electricity and your sleeping quarters are tents. Very much like our hunting tent back home.
I thought Phil and Chaz would be here, but they weren’t. I’m not sure if they left the trail because of the snow. I hope they are okay.
There was one other hiker here at Vermillion. Mike, trail name “Grave Digger”, because that is what he used to do. He’s 25 and has been hiking since March. He planned his hike for six months, stopping at every town along the trail. He’s been at Vermillion for two days. Boy, I’d go crazy doing that. On the other hand, I’m probably going too fast. Mike tells me he knows of only one other hiker in front of us. The more I think about it, I believe I’m going too fast because of the snow conditions which are worse than I expected. Most of the people I’ve started with, except for Phil and Chaz, are probably close to two weeks behind.  

Bad water and giardia

6/5/02
Grave Digger and I hiked out together today. It’s a good thing too. My stomach is really acting up today and I really feel weak. We climbed from 7,000 feet up over Silver Pass, which was at 10,900 feet, and I could hardly move. We only made 14 miles today. I’m glad Mike stayed with me. I’m not sure, but I think I may have drank some bad water and picked up giardia.

Rested at Red Meadows

6/6/02
I took more imodium and felt better at the start of the day, but as the day went on I kept getting weaker. Red Meadows was about a half-day’s hike and I was hoping I could get someone to take me down to Mammoth Lakes and have a doctor check me out, but when we got there it hadn’t opened for the season yet. Another two hikers who came from Tuolumne said there was a cabin down the road and thought I might be able to get a ride. I decided to go and said goodbye to Mike.
It turned out to be a bad choice. The guy wouldn’t give me a ride. So I went back to Red Meadows and rested for the rest of the day hoping to save my energy for the hike to Tuolumne.

Stopped half way up Donohue Pass

6/7/02
Very weak and sick feeling. Hiked half way up Donohue Pass and had to stop. I thought I would rest and finish in the morning. Felt lonely tonight. Things weren’t any fun anymore.

To the hospital in Mammoth Lakes

6/8/02
I made it but not sure you want to know the details. I got up early to start the hike up Donohue Pass. I felt so weak that I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing and slipped. I got lucky; I slid into a boulder sticking out of the snow, which stopped me. It would have been a long ride down and I not sure I had the strength to get out.
I finally made it to Tuolumne and got a ride to the hospital in Mammoth Lakes. Doctor said I was lucky. I was very dehydrated and had a severe case of giardia.
I’m not sure what’s next. For the first time this isn’t fun. I’m very weak and weigh about 165 lbs. A friend from Sacramento, Chuck Dorn, is coming to get me and once I get a little stronger I can make some decisions on what to do.

Getting my strength back in Wisconsin

6/20/02
Right now I’m at home in South Range, Wisconsin and starting to get my strength back. I’m anxious to get back. My wife is worried. I know it’s hard for her to understand, but I just can’t quit in the middle of this. I’m hoping I can get back at the end of the month if at all possible. I’ll update soon.

Everything in my power to finish

8/12/02
For those who may be following my website, I apologize for this late update. I did go back on the trail July 1st and started hiking again at Sierra City. Although I left the trail at Tuolumne Meadow, I decided to move ahead this 250 miles because I was still weak and figured it would be better to start where I knew there wasn’t snow and the elevation was lower. My plan was to go back and finish the part I missed when I got to Canada. However, I had to give it up just short of Burney Falls.
On July 1st I thought I was strong enough to continue, but it just wasn’t to be. I could never regain my strength. By the time I got to Belden my legs were still weak, I would be dizzy when I got up from sitting, and the last two days I was passing some blood.
At Belden I decided to go to Chico, California and rest for a couple of days and make a decision as to what I should do. I was fortunate to get a ride with Jim, a young man who works in the area who said he’d take me back to the trail if I decided to do that. Well, I spent two days in Chico and decided to give it one more try. This time I was just going to go slow and listen to my body. I felt a little stronger and there was no more blood in my urine.
I called Jim, the young man that gave me the ride to Chico, and he took me back to the trail the following morning. Jim said if things didn’t go well he’d come and get me if need be. (One of the nicest things about this trip is the people you meet. Most will go way out of their way to help you.) I started slow and the first day went quite well. I was still weak and a little dizzy, but no blood. The second day was about the same, but the next two days were not so good. I started to pick up the pace a little and by the end of the 4th day I was getting weaker and passing almost all blood.
It was very difficult to convince myself I had to stop. I hate not finishing anything and this was very important to me in a lot of ways, but I’d just beaten myself up too much. So, after an hour or so of reflecting on the trip, I called Jim and he took me to the bus station in Chico and I came home.
I postponed this entry until now, because I wanted to give myself time to decide what I’ll do next about this adventure. One thing is for certain; I will do everything in my power to finish! My plan now is to go back sometime in September to finish the 250 miles I missed from Tuolumne to Sierra City. My health is almost back to normal now and I want to do this stretch so next year I can start from where I left off and not have to worry about anything I missed. Then next year I will go back and finish from where I left off. Although, I am contemplating starting from the beginning. (I’ll think about that over the winter.)
Even though I ran into some hardships, I will say this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I met so many nice people. Including, but not all: Gottago, Geezer, Yogi, Bug, Cape Town, Iron Man Chuckie, Brent, Geoff, Greg, Andy, Sky Pilot, Tapeworm, Cupcake, Load, Harry, Fancy Nancy, Flutterby, Just Jane, The Two Joes, Anne & Lee, Bushwhacker, Special K, John & Julie, Tim, Grave Digger, and my two special buddies I hiked the most with, Chaz and Phil (Donk). Thanks for picking up after me!!!
Also, a special thanks to the “trail angel” hosts, Donna & Jeff Saufley and Terri & Joe Anderson. They were unbelievable!
Fred and Walt, thanks for getting me to the trail. (Fred, my prayers and thoughts are with you on the loss of your wife.)
Tod Baker, thanks for the website. You did a very good job.
Norm Okerstrom & Don Stoner of Augsburg College, thanks for all the work the two of you did in setting up the website for the Warz Memorial Scholarship. It meant a lot. To all those that contributed, I plan to personally write a note to you in the near future thanking you for your thoughtfulness. (Another reason why I must finish this trip.)
Coach Edor Nelson, Niles, Casper, thanks for your help on the scholarship. You’re great friends and credit to Augsburg College.
To my family and all those who followed and sent e-mails or voice mails of encouragement, thanks, it really helped to spur me on.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT SUMMER!!! If I start from where I left off, (most likely I’ll do that) it will be in the middle of June. If I start over, it will be the end of April.
Larry Hoff (Trail Name – “Coach”)
P.S. Some have asked what all I lost on the trip. (For those that do not know me, I have this slight problem of leaving things behind. I told my trail friends that it must be the altitude.) The following lists what I can remember.
Things that I remember that I lost

  • Seven pair of sunglasses
  • Left my reading glasses somewhere almost everyday, but always was able to find them.
  • One pair of sandals
  • Tent poles - found and returned to me.
  • Windbreaker – found and returned.
  • Insoles of my shoes – I walked 20 some miles wondering why my shoes felt so loose. Trail Angel, Terri Anderson drove up with them and my camp towel while Chaz, Harry, Phil and I were resting alongside a road!
  • My pants – don’t ask! Little Anne found them on a bench and had them on when they caught up to us at the Anderson’s!
  • My spoon (the only thing I used to eat with) – forgot to bring it when I went back to the trail on July 1st.
  • Seven toenails - they just fell off! (Didn’t retrieve them.)
  • About 50 pounds when I got sick, of which I only need about 30 back!

Most likely there were other items, but this is what I remember!

2003

Crazier people than me

6/24/03
Well, I just completed the section from Lone Pine to Mammoth Lakes. This is the section of the trail I got sick in last year. Also, because of snow, I moved ahead and missed about 60 miles of the area. Therefore, I decided to redo it when I was healthy and really enjoy one of the most beautiful areas of the whole trip.
I will say it's been great! Beautiful scenery and great people to hike with. I've met a number of new hikers and five who hiked the trail last year -- Billy Goat, Yogi, Gottago, Cupcake and Mercury -- and decided to hike it again. See, there are crazier people than me.
This section is the highest on the whole trip. We were hiking at above 10,000 feet most of the time. It included seven tough snowy passes. First, Forester, the highest at about 13,000 feet. Second, Glenn, very snowy and tough to climb. Third, Pinchot, long but probably the easiest. Fourth, Mather, straight up and scary at times. Fifth, Muir, very snowy, tough walking. Sixth, Seldon, easy and we fished on the way (did not catch anything). Seventh, Silver, had a snow storm and winds up to 40 miles an hour. Tough night!
I could not have asked for a better start to the hike. I've been traveling slow, 15 miles average per day. The people I've been with have been great. We've worked as a team, helping each other when needed. They let me be alone when needed and raised my spirits when I got too deep in thought. I will miss them.
I'm now in Redding, California and will go up to Burney Falls this afternoon and continue on to Canada. I am now at the 1417.5 mile mark with about 1,220 miles to go! (Just a walk in the park left.) Well, time to go. From now on I'll try to keep a daily journal. I'll send more in about four days when I arrive at Castella, California.

Bus ride to Burney Falls

6/25/03
I spent most of the day riding buses from Mammoth Lakes to Redding, California. The plan was to stop in Sacramento and spend at least one day with my friend, Chuck Dorn, but his mother passed away the day before and he was on his way back to Minneapolis. (Chuck is the one who rescued me last year when I got giardia.) It seems like just yesterday Chuck’s mother, Florence, telling us to be careful as we played football or something. Always with that great mother’s smile. My thoughts and prayers are with you Chuck.
I arrived in Burney Falls at about 5:30 P.M., getting a ride from Redding with pastor Pat Nugent of Burney. Pat was a very nice guy and we had a great talk about life, etc. When we said our goodbyes, he gave me a book he thought would help in the loss of Ryan. Thanks Pat!
I was able to get in about five miles and made camp,,, but decided to move down the trail a little ways because two skunks showed up! At least I’m back on the trail and feel physically very strong.

Back to my old ways

6/26/03
Well, I’m back to my old ways!!! Things were going so good I decided to pick up the pace a little. The next thing I knew it was around 2:00 P.M. and I already had about 20 miles in, but with one slight problem. I missed a water source and hadn’t drunk any water since noon and from what I could tell the next water wasn’t for almost 6 miles. It was in the high 90’s and I was getting weak. In about a ½ hour I was down and knew I was in trouble – again! Anyway, I figured I had to get to some shade, so I got to some bushes a couple hundred yards away and wouldn’t you know it, there was a little water seeping out from rocks! It was suppose to be there, but I was able to get two liters of water and after a good rest was on my way.

My first bear

6/27/03
Very weak today, but did get in 23 miles. Probably weak because of the loss of water yesterday. Today was all forest walking with very little scenery. Although I did see my first bear. It wasn’t a real big bear, maybe about 150 – 200 lbs. In other words, about 50 to 75lbs bigger than my buddy, Dean Neumann would harvest! Sorry Dean, --- just a little jab!!!

Supper and breakfast

6/28/03
I had a great supper last night and breakfast this morning. I camped with a young group that’s been working on the trail. Barb (forgot her last name) was the camp cook. (chicken, potatoes, fruit, eggs, sausage, etc, UNREAL!!!!)
Another 25 plus miles through forests and only glimpses of Mt. Shasta every once in a while. I’ll be in Dunsmuir tomorrow.

Stay in Dunsmuir

6/29/03
Arrived in Dunsmuir around 1:00 P.M. (Late start and it took about two hours to get a ride from the trail.) Saw two more bears. I need to rest my feet and will stay in Dunsmuir for a day.

6,780 feet

7/1/03
I got a ride to the trail early and was walking by 7:00 A.M. I felt strong again and it was a good thing because I started at an elevation of 2,130 feet and by the day’s end I was at 6,780 feet. Good, easy day – just my thoughts and me.

Etna on the 4th

7/2/03
Easy walking day. Very little up and down and was able to make 32 plus miles. It seemed like 20 miles. I hope the next two days go as well. I want to be in Etna on the 4th. Everyone says Etna is a great little town. People are very hiker friendly. It is suppose to have a great hiker bed and breakfast that only costs $12.50.

Made almost 30 miles

7/3/03
Another good hiking day. I awoke at 4:15 A.M. and decided to get up and go because I had a little more up and down today and wanted to get as close to Etna as possible. I stopped walking at about 8:30 P.M. I took a lot of breaks and really did not over work and still made almost 30 miles.
Very beautiful hiking day. Again --- just my thoughts and me. In fact I’ve only seen one other hiker (going south) plus the trail workers since I’ve been by myself. Tomorrow – Etna.

You're tougher than that

7/4/03
In Etna – Yes, it’s a great town. I’m the first hiker here. Everyone is so nice and helpful. The B&B is great and they were right - $12.50 a night. May stay all day and rest this old body and let a couple of blisters heal.
All in all I’m doing okay. I still get down a little, but there’s always something that picks me up. Like when I was in trouble with water a few days back. I could hear Ryan telling me, “Get up, Dad. You’re tougher than that!”
I hope all is well back home! Lu – you should be back from Europe – I hope it was a great trip and I hope it helped. Hug the kids and grand kids for me! Miss you! Do we have any money left????

Around the mountain

7/5/03
The B&B at Etna was great and a great place for hikers to re-energize. A group from Grants Pass, Oregon, was also there for the 4th of July weekend. They were doing some biking and hiking in the mountains.
Started on the trail at 7:30 A.M. This section is through the Marble Mountains; just a beautiful hiking area.
The highlight of the day (more accurately, the screw up of the day) was walking an extra 10 miles! At about noon I came to this snowfield I had to cross. It was ¼ mile long and a little dangerous, but I accomplished it with little problem. Then, at about 3:30 P.M., I came to another snowfield that started to look familiar. You guessed it,,, same snowfield! I’d just walked in a circle around the mountain! So a 34-mile day turned into about a 24-mile day. Other than that, it was a great day with great scenery and one bear sighting.
(Oh, I had to write this in the morning, it seems my headlamp is missing!) Hopefully no mistakes tomorrow.

The mistake was worth it

7/6/03
Well, today I got my mistake out of the way right away. A trail sign was pointing the wrong direction and sure enough, another 10 miles the wrong way!
Although, I did see a good size bear sitting on a ridge just looking down at me. I think I got a couple of good pictures so I felt the mistake was worth it.
Again, a nice day of hiking. I made camp at a very nice campground along Grider Creek. People are here panning for gold.

Hit the Oregon border

7/7/03
Let's see, in two days I’ve walked 70.3 miles. The data book says, Etna to Seiad Valley is 57 miles. How come I have 6.5 miles to go?? What mistake will be made today? Well—it happened right away. I lost my water filter! I was pumping water before breaking camp and wouldn’t you know it, I laid my filter down on a rock and it slipped into the rushing Grider Creek and in seconds it was gone.
Time for a rest day!!! This is what I’m doing now in Seiad Valley. Staying at a campground that has a bunkhouse for hikers. Ten Bucks a night with bed and shower – good deal. This is also the place on the trail the restaurant has a pancake challenge. You eat five pancakes and your breakfast is free. Only five people have done it in eighteen years. Big – big pancakes! In a day and one half I’ll hit the Oregon border at the 1692.4 mile mark.
Oh, by the way the pancake restaurant is rated the number three place in the world to pig out at by the Travel Channel. They were on TV a couple of months ago.

 4,000 miles of elevation

7/9/03
Tough hiking today. Again did 12 miles the wrong way plus I had over 2,000 feet in elevation gain and by doing 12 miles the wrong way it turned into 4,000 miles of elevation. I don’t want to talk about it! Going to bed.

Oregon

7/10/03
I’m in Oregon!!!! I made it to the border around 3:00 P.M. A lot of blowdowns in this area. Last winter they had a big blizzard with winds over 50 miles an hour. They haven’t had a chance to clean up this area yet. Hopefully when this year's hikers get here they will, but it’s a mess.
I did meet this year’s first through hiker, trail name, Wall. He’s trying to break the record for the shortest number of days to do the trail. He’s been doing 40 plus mile days for the last two weeks and averaging 33 plus miles for the entire hike. Very nice guy and I didn’t even try to go after him when he left!!! I must be getting old!!!

A great honor

7/11/03
This first part of Oregon is hot and very little scenery. I’m trying to get to highway 140, Fish Lake and out of this section before I have to return home for a wedding. One of my former football players, Mike Sweeney is getting married and before I left he asked if I’d walk his mother down the aisle. What a great honor. Not only was he a great player, he also did a great job coaching for me and now teaches and coaches at a nearby school. Excellent teacher and coach.

At Highway 140 tomorrow

7/12/03
It was another boring day, hot and very little scenery, although it’s easy walking, very little up and down. I’ll be at Highway 140 tomorrow and will hitchhike down to Ashland. There’s a hostel there that caters to hikers.
When I come back I’ll have about a day and one half to Crater Lake. The rest of Oregon is supposed to be very nice.

To Portland and then fly home

7/13/03
I had a short walk to Highway 140 and got a ride to Ashland by the second car that came by.
Ashland is a very nice town. It was a lot of art and theater places. It has a beautiful park and very nice people. Although, it seems every other person (young or old) has tattoos all over their body and rings in their nose, ears or somewhere.
I was just thinking my old buddies; Dick Lietske and Ken Casperson would really fit in here!!!!
Tomorrow I have a seven-hour bus ride to Portland and then fly home. I’ll be back on the trail on, July 24th, see you then.

Sharon and Suge

7/23/03
Well, I’m back on the trail after about 40 hours with little sleep. Gene Monroe, from Medford, Oregon gave me a ride to the trail. Gene is a friend from my college days. I started hiking at 4:30 pm. Within a mile I met Sharon and Suge. Sharon is 36 and Suge is 29. Both are very strong hikers. They think there are only six others in front of them. The three of us hiked 12.8 miles together and made camp by a very nice spring.

Longest day of hiking

7/24/03
We had rain, thunder and lightning last night. Really neat to watch. It’s the first real stormy weather I’ve been in since starting this trek. This turned into a challenging day. Sharon and Suge wanted to get to Crater Lake today, so knowing I just got back on the trail, said goodbye thinking I won’t hike that far. Well, you know what happened? I made it to Crater Lake. My longest day of hiking, 39.8 miles. Sharon and Suge did not say much, but I could see they thought I was nuts! This was sort of a boring section, but had a great time hiking with Sharon and Suge.

First hiker going south

7/25/03 (32.5 miles hiked)
Crater Lake was beautiful. But other than that there isn’t much to see or do, so I was on my way north. Again, not a great scenic hiking day. Mt. Thielsen was neat. I saw the first hiker going south today, Dan. He was excited about finally meeting north bound hikers. I camped at what is the highest point I’ll be at for the rest of the journey, at 7,550 feet. It sure doesn’t compare to the Sierras when you’re at or above 10,000 feet most of the time.

Out of water, no fuel

7/26/03 (30 miles hiked)
A miserable, hot, mosquito-filled day. At about noon I came to Windigo Pass out of water. This is a forest road in the middle of nowhere and there was supposed to be water, .01 miles to the east. There was none. I wasn’t going to let this happen to me again, but it did. As I was trying to figure out what to do, this couple comes driving up and were nice enough to give me two liters of water. Lucked out again! Like I said, this was miserable, although Crescent Lake was beautiful and where I camped, Summit Lake Campground was beautiful.
Oh, I forgot to mention earlier, I left without fuel for my stove so I haven’t had a hot meal since I’ve been back on the trail. Two gals were camped at this lake and were nice enough to heat up my supper. It really helped after such a day. I also forgot to mention that I am hiking alone again. Sharon and Suge stayed at Crater Lake longer than I did. They are probably half a day behind. I probably won’t see them again because I need to go into Shelter Cove to re-supply and they don’t. So as fast as they go they will be way past me by the time I get back to the trail.

Made a stove out of a tuna can

7/27/03 (21.2 miles hiked)
Decided to make this an easy day. My feet hurt a little and I have a blister on my right little toe. At about 11 a.m. I arrived at Shelter Cove to re-supply. Frank Ivy was here. Frank was the guy who is about my age who I met in Ashland. He was waiting for new shoes to arrive. They weren’t there yet so he had to stay an extra day. I had 3 Polish and 4 Dr. Peppers and rested for three hours at Shelter Cove and was on my way about 2:30. A nice young couple gave me a ride back to the trail. I got to North Rosary Lake at 6:00 pm and decided to make camp. What a great day! Easy hike! Swimming! Mosquito free! Just good thoughts! Also made a stove out of a tuna can at Shelter Cove so I even had a hot meal.

Swim in Irish Lake

7/28/03 (28.2 miles hiked)
Another easy day of hiking and again I camped at 6 p.m. I met two very nice ladies today, Mel and Lorraine, who are hiking the state of Oregon. Mel is 60 and Lorraine is 61. Both are in excellent condition and really seem to enjoy hiking. We had lunch together and a nice swim in Irish Lake. I made camp at Tadpole Lake. Probably the poorest campsite I’ve had, but, it was 6 p.m. and I promised myself I’d stop. See……I’m getting better.

With my sons

7/29/03 (27 miles hiked)
Another great day with beautiful scenery. I went past a number of small lakes. Very much like the Boundary Waters back home. I got to Elk Lake Resort around 10 and took a 4 hour rest. It included two meals, a bunch of Cokes, and a very nice swim. I left Elk Lake around 2:00. I met a Boy Scout troup that was on a 50 mile hike. They were doing about 10 miles a day and really seemed to be having fun. It reminded me of our annual Memorial Day trip to the Boundary Waters with my sons. Precious times! Lots of lakes, rivers, and springs on this section. Just a great day on the PCT.

Like being on the moon

7/30/03 (17 miles hiked)
A short day today to Sisters, but what a beautiful hike. Most of the day was spent going through lava fields. It was like being on the moon. Hopefully my pictures give you some idea of what it was like. Man, every day there is something new to see and this one was a special day.

One foot in front of the other

7/31/03 (27.6 miles hiked)
Three south-bound hikers are here and Mel and Lorraine showed up. We all had dinner together and shared stories. Lots of laughs. Just what you need sometimes. I’ll be hiking out in the morning and so will the south bounders. Mel and Lorraine plan to relax for a couple of days. I most likely won’t see them again, but I’m glad I met them. It’s good to see people my age still trying to put one foot in front of the other.
After saying goodbye to Mel and Lorraine I went to the grocery store to buy five days of food to get me to Cascade Locks and the end of the Oregon section. I got a ride to the trail and was hiking by 9:45. I hiked over more lava fields and had great views of Three Fingers Jack. Even with the late start I was still able to get in a 27-plus mile day. Still feel good.

6 miles out of my way

8/1/03 (24.9 miles hiked, plus 6 going on the wrong trail……again!)
A great hiking day except for missing a turn and hiking 6 miles out of my way. Late in the day I missed a 90 degree turn and went straight ahead and hiked for 3 miles. I ran into two hikers coming towards me who informed me that I missed the turn. At least it was downhill so I could jog back to where I was supposed to be. I finally got on track about 9 p.m. and made camp. Great views of Mt. Jefferson today.

Another great day!

8/2/03 (33 miles hiked)
I hiked through what is called Jefferson Park. It’s a beautiful valley that’s about a 5 mile hike from the nearest trail head. Very remote, dotted with small lakes and surrounded by mountains. When you hike out of Jefferson Park to a ridge where you have unbelievable views of Mt. Jefferson behind you and St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood which I come to next. I also ran into Commodore at around 2 p.m. today. A very nice man of  50 who’s also finishing his hike from last year. He started at Ashland, Oregon.

Hiked with Commodore

8/3/03 (33 miles hiked)
Not much scenery today. Mostly forest hiking until the last few miles and you can see Mt. Hood. Hiked with Commodore today. He’s as good a hiker that I have seen out here and could easily do 30-35 miles a day, but chooses to stay around 25. I’m not sure what he thinks of me doing my mileage, but we end up hiking to Cascade Locks together. I’m glad we’re together today because he knew some people who were close by with whom we were able to spend the night. Timberline Lodge is beautiful, but expensive so we weren’t staying there and it was cold and windy outside. So it was a very pleasant and unexpected treat to have a good meal, hot shower, and a bed.

Tough day of hiking

8/4/03 (22.8 miles hiked)
This was a tough day of hiking for me. Commodore and I got to the trail around 10:30 and hiked until 7:30. We did get in about 23 miles, but it was a tough 23 for both of us. There was a lot more up and down than we thought with very little view. Also, we had a lot of mosquitoes and biting flies. Good day to be done with. Tomorrow we’ll be in Cascade Locks and Oregon is history.

Walk along a ridge with a small lake without a name

8/5/03 (25.4 miles hiked, another 5 miles on the wrong trail)
It’s August 5th and I awoke to a beautiful sunrise. It also would have been our son, Ryan’s, 27th birthday. I was worried it would be a tough day emotionally for me but it was okay. Commodore left early because he knew I wanted to be alone today. As I started out today I was thinking of what I could do in recognition of Ryan’s birthday. As I was thinking I noticed this pretty, little lake down in the valley and thought how Ryan enjoyed fishing and being on lakes just like this. I stopped and got out my data book which describes everything on the trail. Much to my surprise, it said, “You’ll walk along a ridge with a small lake without a name in the valley.” Well, right there I had my answer for Ryan’s birthday. Today, to me at least, this lake is now Ryan Lake. I took a number of pictures and went on my way feeling pretty good. The day ended with an elevation drop from 4,270 ft. to 240 ft. to the Columbia River. What a gorgeous view it was, but a tough walk. It took a toll on my feet, ankles, and shins. Tomorrow will be a zero day. I need it to gear up for the last 500 miles of Washington. HAPPY BIRTHDAY RYAN. I MISS YOU TERRIBLY!

A logging road west

8/6/03 to 8/15/03 Cascade Locks 2150.8 to Snoqualmie Pass 2396.6 (254.8 miles hiked)
Somehow my notes for this section were lost. This was the start of the Washington section, from the Bridge of the Gods at Cascade Locks to Snoqualmie Pass at Interstate 90.
It's hard to remember day by day, but I do remember Commodore and I seeing a lot of scenic mountain lakes in this section.
The biggest highlight was my hike from White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass. At White Pass I got word that my wife’s aunt, Evelyn had passed away in Seattle. Neither she nor her mother, Glenys, (Evelyn’s sister) could get to the funeral which was being held in four days. LuAnn was taking care of her mother, who just went through heart surgery and was unable to travel. Anyway, as we left White Pass I was thinking about Evelyn and felt bad that Glenys would not be able to attend.
When we made camp that night I told Commodore I was going to try and make the funeral for Glenys and LuAnn. It meant I needed to do close to 40 miles each in the next two days to do it. Well, I was off at 5:30 the next day and walked until 9:30 P.M. that evening and made 38 miles. I just was too tired to go any farther and wasn’t sure what the next day would bring.
When I awoke the next morning I felt good and was ready to give it my best shot. At 5:30 I had 30 miles in and still needed to go about 14 more to the pass. At that point I decided to take a logging road west, which looked to be about 7 miles from Interstate 90 and see if I could get a ride to Seattle. Well, I was walking on that logging road for less than a half hour when a pickup came by and stopped. I told him what I was trying to do and he said I was in luck. He was heading home from camping and lived within 20 miles of where I was trying to get! Meant to be, I guess!!!
Glenys's, other sister Connie was glad I made it and I was happy I could be there for LuAnn and Glenys.

Connie and Jacque

8/16/03 (8.1 miles hiked)
My wife’s Aunt Connie’s husband Jacque gave me a ride back to the trail. It was a great stay at their house. I met both their daughter and son’s families for the first time. Great people and I hope to get back soon with LuAnn and spend some quality time with them.
It was cold and misting today. We didn’t leave Snoqualaime until 4:30 pm. Our goal was to just get a start on the section today. Also met “Happy Trails Walt” and his wife Pat today. Walt is my age and will be about the 5th or 6th person to finish. His wife is supporting him along the way in a van. Very nice people. We should see him again.

Very rocky

8/17/03 (29.3 miles hiked)
Tough day of hiking today. A lot of up and down and very rocky. Hard walking. Also hard to believe we almost did 30 miles. The scenery is getting nice again. Mountains are becoming more cascaded.

Not in my vocabulary

8/18/03 (26.3 miles hiked)
Another hard day of hiking, although great views. Walt caught up with us at the end of the day. At about 6:30 we couldn’t find a good place to camp, so Walt and Commodore decided to go back a mile and camp at Glacier Lake. I couldn’t do that (‘back’ is not in my vocabulary) so I made the 800 ft. climb to Trapp Pass. Turned out to be a nice campsite.

Pancakes and eggs for all the hikers

8/19/03 (15.4 miles hiked)
Walt and Commodore got up to Trapp Pass at about 7:30. From Trapp Pass we had about 12 miles to get to Skykomish. (Skykomish is the second to last town before the Canadian border.) We arrived at the Skykomish Pass at about 11:30. Don Johnson, a person that finished the trail last year was set up with his camper and cooking pancakes and eggs for all the hikers coming through this year. He started last Sunday and plans to be there through at least all of September and maybe part of October. Unbelievable! But he wants to give back this year for all the help he received last year. There are a lot of great “trail angels” out here, but most are in California. What a great place to have one in Washington. Thanks Don. I’ll e-mail you when I’m done. We stayed at the Pass until about five and then hiked another three miles and made camp. This is supposed to be the hardest section other than the Sierras and also one of the prettiest.

Sally Ann

8/20/03 (24.4 miles hiked)
They may be right. There is a lot of elevation gain and drop. But it is worth it. Great views - great lakes. We ate lunch at Pear Lake and went swimming before we ended the day at Sally Ann Lake. Sally Ann was just a neat setting high in the mountains.  

800 ft. up, 1000 ft. down, 1700 ft. up, 1000 ft. down, 2000 ft. up, 1700 ft. down

8/21/03 (30.6 miles hiked)

Walt left early today. He wants to do two 30 plus mile days so he can meet his wife at Rainy Pass on the 23rd. What a nice guy. I’m sorry to see him go. He and his wife are having a great time doing this together. Today was 800 ft. up, 1,000 ft. down, 1,700 ft. up, 1,000 ft. down, 2,000 ft. up, 1,700 ft. down. Lots of fun!!! Neither Commodore or myself could believe we did 30 miles today. Again, the views are great. This is as pretty as the High Sierras. I hope my pictures do it some justice. Oh, by the way, we start tomorrow with a 2,000 ft. climb. Time for bed.

Llamas

8/22/03 (27.2 miles hiked)
Another day of up and down elevation. Views are still great. We met a couple with two llamas today. I saw their tracks earlier and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what animal track it was. I knew it had to be elk. At about 4:00 pm my left ankle started to really swell up again. I had to limp into camp for one and a half hours. Need to rest. Twelve miles to go to Stehekin. The last town before the Canadian border.

Last stop before the border!

8/23/03 (12.1 miles hiked)
We are here! Last stop before the border! 89.3 miles to go! Stehekin is a neat little village on the west of Lake Chelan. Lake Chelan is a 50-mile glacier lake carved out of the mountains. This is an area one must see. What an outdoors setting. I will be back. We hiked in with two guys, Bob Butts and Dave Brook that are on a 5-year plan to hike the Washington section of the PCT. Supposedly their 5-year plan is turning into an 8-year adventure! We had a great visit with them. Tomorrow will be a zero day and Monday on to Canada. We should be there at noon on Thursday the 28th. Some have asked what I do to pass the time in the evening. I do some reading of what is coming for the next day and I also have a small paperback book. I read a chapter or two each night. I then look for the Big Dipper in the sky. It’s made up of seven stars and while I’ve been hiking for all of these months, each star has it’s own meaning to me. Tomorrow I will start explaining each. Three and a half more days!

The sign was no longer there

8/25/03 Stehekin 2569.4 to Porcupine Creek 2590.6 (21.6 miles hiked)

Well, three and half days to go! Commodore and I started on the trail at about 9:30 A.M. Today’s walk was not very scenic, but I was looking forward to getting to Rainy Pass. I got the idea to do this hike when a few years ago while on a family vacation I saw a big sign at the Rainy Pass trail head that said: “A Walk to Mexico.” I have a picture of that sign at home and wanted to take another one. Well, we got to Rainy Pass at about 5:30 P.M. and the sign was no longer there. They have changed the entire trail head parking area and for some reason they removed the sign.
Anyway, it was sort of an uneventful day with mostly forest walking. Tomorrow we’ll start getting back into the heart of the Cascades. Time to eat, read a little and find the Big Dipper.

Fires both to the west and east

8/26/03 Porcupine Creek 2590.6 to Harts Pass 2619.6 (29 miles hiked)
Up and at ’em early today. Hiking by 6:00 A.M. The high – jagged mountains of the Cascades were all around us today. Just unbelievable!
Early in the day we heard from a day hiker that the trail might be closed in front of us due to fires. Commodore and I looked at each other and were thinking the same thing, come this far and not be able to finish! Well, later in the day, another hiker told us that there were two trails closed, but not the PCT. He said there were fires both to the west and east, but the PCT was not in danger. GOOD!!!
One and half days to go! Cold tonight.

A wrong turn

8/27/03 Harts Pass 2619.6 to Castle Pass 2647.4 (27.8 miles hiked plus 5 more making it a 32.8-mile day)
Yep! Next to the last day and I walk five miles the wrong way! Toward the end of the day we’d decided to camp about four miles short of the U.S./Canada border. Long story short – I took a wrong turn and went somewhere between 5 to 6 miles the wrong way. Not only the wrong way, but also close to 2,000 feet up when I really only had about one and half miles to go and down hill! Finally made it to where Commodore was camped at about 9:00 P.M. He’d been there since 6:00 P.M. He just looked at me shaking his head. Probably wondering how and the heck I made it this far!
Great day today. We had a little rain in the morning, but when the skies cleared it was just beautiful again. I hope my pictures do this area some justice.
Time for bed. Only a half-day to go. Mixed emotions tonight. Seems good to be reaching my goal, but hate to leave the trail. So many memories. So many nice people. So many thoughts.

Seven stars

8/28/03 Castle Pass 2647.3 to Manning Park, B.C. 2658.7 (11.3 miles hiked plus 3)
All last night I thought about all that has happen since I began this adventure. I thought about all the great people I met, all the beautiful scenery, the ups and downs, and about really being able to complete the trip.
I mentioned awhile back that I fall asleep watching the Big Dipper. Last night was the final time to do that on this trip and it was special because the sky was so bright.
The Big Dipper is made up of seven stars and each star has its own meaning to me while out on this trail. Starting from the handle the first star represents my wife, LuAnn, and I take a few minutes to remember all that she means to me and what a great person she is in her own right. She’s a very giving person and if you know her, well let's just say you’ve been blessed. Last night I was thinking about the time I came home a little late and figured I better make a big impression. So when I got to the bedroom door I hollered out, “Superman” and did a half turn in the air and landed on the floor rather than the bed! She’d rearranged the furniture! Can’t Win!
The second star represents my sons Dean and Eric, and my daughter Heidi. I could not be prouder of them and their significant others. I told them a long time ago that all I wanted them to do is just grow up to be a little better than their father. Well, they’ve out done me 10 fold!
The third star represents our grand children Liv and Rory (Dean and Erin), Devin and Drake (Heidi and Nate) and Lily (Heather). If you have grandchildren you know how special they are!
The fourth star represents my mother, Ellen and father, Clarence. My mother is 90 years old and hanging in there. Short-term memory is shot but does not have an ache in her body. She lives with my sister, Clarice. My father has passed away, but I think of him often. I just simply owe them everything.
The fifth star represents my sisters Clarice, Cheryl, Sonja, and my brother Don. If you’ve followed my journal you know we lost Don when he was sixteen, yet there is hardly a day that goes by that I do not think about him. My sisters are great and I wish we could see each other more than we do. I see Clarice the most and she and her husband, Ron have helped me a lot getting to and from airports on this hike.
The sixth star represents all the people back home. I think about the people I grew up with, like Mac and Newt. My high school and college friends like Niles, Umland, Dorn, Leitzke, Casper, Phil, Cal, Warz, Zeke, Russ, and so many others. My high school coach, John Hansen and college coach, Edor Nelson that played such a part in my own coaching philosophy. My friends in Eau Claire, Diz, Tex, Mic, Browny, Daryl and Denny. They too played a big part in my teaching and coaching philosophy. Then there’s Charlie, Jim, Dean, John and Mike who are my hunting partners back home (Better get back, somebody needs to shoot their deer for them!). I’ve been fortunate to have been touched by so many people it’s impossible to mention all of them, specially all the wonderful people in our community of, Superior, Wisconsin. I’m proud to be a SPARTAN! Lastly, I think of my good coaching buddy, Ted. We’ve been friends for over 30 years, running around to coaching clinics together. Ted has brain cancer and he and his family are always in my prayers. I’ll see you when I get home Ted.
Finally, the seventh star, which represents all the great people I’ve met on this trail. All are very special in there own right. It’s been an honor to hike and meet so many nice people. Geezer, Cupcake, Yucca, Kimber, Stretch, Walt, Billy Goat, Garlic Man, Frank, Just Jane, Tapeworm, Chuckie V, La De Da, Pel Mel, Birdie, Suge and Grave Digger are just a few that I had the pleasure to hike with. Phil (Donk), Chaz, Commodore, Yogi and Gottago are the five I know the best. I’ll never forget them. Heck, they did a great job taking care of me!!!
Then, finally, I look for the first satellite to pass overhead. That satellite represents my son, Ryan, just simply telling me, “Dad everything is okay. I’m in good hands. Just remember and be strengthened by all the good times I had and not be weakened by my going home.”
I started hiking at about 6:30 A.M. today and made it to the US/Canada border at about 9:00 A.M. Funny, I thought I’d feel different than I did. There was no big excitement, rather it felt like just another day of hiking and now it was time to do something else. Sort of strange!
Anyone out there up to biking around the perimeter of the United States in a couple of years????
Oh, I forgot to mention yesterday, I not only made a wrong turn, but I also lost my glasses and broke my camera. Darn, I was so proud that one of few things I never lost was my glasses and now I lose them on the next to last day and can hardly read what’s on the marker. Then I have no camera to take a picture of the monument to prove I made it! Good thing I was with Commodore, he was nice enough to take my picture and will send me a copy.
After another 8 miles, plus 3 more the wrong way (no comment) we made it to Manning Park, B.C. and my journey was over. Again, not much emotion, but I’m very proud I accomplished what I set out to do.
Thanks for following along.

Larry Hoff (They call me, “Coach”)

Eric's cartoon

Well, I made it and that vulture on my back, although it came close at times, did not get me!

It’s been quite the trip to say the least! Never in my wildest dreams would I’ve thought this adventure would involve so many physical and emotional episodes. It feels good to be finished, yet being out on the trail for such a length of time, I already miss it... as much as I enjoyed hiking.

ON TO SOMETHING ELSE!!