[See the PCT Playlist on my YouTube channel for updated videos (77-87 are new)]
By now perhaps you’ve heard that as of 09/01/21, the US Forest Service closed all National Forests in the state of California due to ongoing wild fires and concerns over potential new ones. Per an announcement posted on the PCTA site, the closure will likely be in effect for a minimum of a couple weeks, though given that a similar closure last year remained in place until mid-October, SOBO hikers like myself find ourselves with diminishing prospects for completing the PCT this year. Many went home, some joined friends on other trails and some are continuing to hike the PCT at risk of a $5000 fine if caught on national forest land.
Not wanting to forfeit the remaining 2-3 months I expected to be walking, I considered hiking the Arizona trail (too early for an autumn attempt and extremely water-scarce this year) and the Colorado Trail (likely too late to complete before the heavy cold sets in and I already did a large chunk during my CDT hike), but ultimately chose a third option. Starting tomorrow morning (Thursday, 09/09/21) I begin walking east to Minnesota from my home in Liberty Lake, Washington. I have family, friends and work colleagues there and had intended visiting right after the PCT hike anyway. In fact, assuming I make steady progress I may arrive there right around the same time I expected to be completing the PCT. And as it turns out, the walking distance is between 1300-1400 miles- almost exactly the mileage I’ll miss on the PCT due to the various closures.
Not completing the PCT was initially a huge let down, but as I started planning this new walk over the past few days I got genuinely excited about the prospect of doing something radically different from a typical hike. While I will spend some time on trails as I make my way to Minnesota, mostly I’ll be walking forest service roads, rural streets, the occasional highway, etc., wandering from town to town across Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota. Being able to resupply nearly every day will allow me to carry small amounts of food and for the most part water seems plentiful along the route I’ve chosen (see the map below). My actual walking will occasionally vary slightly from the map, but most of the time I’ll be following that path pretty closely.
For those who remain interested in following along, I’ll continue posting pictures and videos every week or so in hopes of completing the walk by mid-to-late November. We’ll see what the weather has in store! In the mean time, I’ve also included some additional pictures from my time in the Sierras before the closures landed. The hiking was exceptionally beautiful and I ended up camping frequently with a couple of other hikers (York and Muggle), which was a nice change after a long solo stretch.
Thank you again for tuning in and if you decide to hang around for this new adventure, I’m pretty sure its gonna be a fun one! Best wishes and happy trails. Max