I love long distance backpacking! I hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail (2,652 miles) in sections between 2002 to 2010. I only had one problem. I was having a hard time finding other people who wanted to hike 20 plus miles a day in the usually rainy North West weather.
Both my daughters have gone backpacking with the family since they were babies. I noticed that my oldest particularly thrived on it. By the time she was 4, she carried her own gear and would ask me to make the trip longer each time because she wanted to beat her own distance record. I knew early on that she would someday be my long distance hiking partner.
She was always asking to thru-hike the PCT with me for as long as I can remember. Thru-hiking is defined as hiking a long trail completely in one continuous trip. I agreed to put our financial affairs in order so we would be ready by the time she graduated from high school.
With some painful twists of fate and a bad economy, our door of opportunity was opened 7 years early. After loosing my job of 17 years, I came home suppressing the tears and said “I have great news Reed, we’re thru-hiking the PCT this year”!
Sunshine (Reed’s trail name) and I started on the Mexican border April 29th, 4 days before her 11th birthday. As many as 600 people started the trail that spring, Sunshine of course being the youngest by many years. We had perfect cool weather conditions in the desert, but the snow level in the Sierra Mountains was the highest on record. We hiked over 500 miles in Central California through snow, ice, and water crossings. The warm dry weather held out through all of Oregon and most of Washington. It only rained on us 3 days in Washington and it began to snow the last 1/2 hour of our final day. We arrived to Canada in just under 5 months.
It was by far the toughest year on record and fewer than 100 thru-hikers completed the trail.
Sunshine continues to be very goal driven and plans to complete the triple crown of hiking (PCT 2,652 miles, AT 2,100 miles, and CDT 3,100 miles). As long as she desires this dream, I am committed to helping her achieve it, putting my life and career on hold for now.
We are very proud to represent Darn Tough Socks this year, and excited to use their superior products. We used 3 different brands of socks last year, but none of them lasted. Some wore out in as little as 3 days of use. Sunshine had an allergic reaction to one brand that gave her an extremely painful rash.
We are starting the Appalachian trail on April 1st of this year. Please follow along as I plan to periodically update readers on this site and blog daily on Trailjournals.com/sunshine2012at throughout our journey.
-Balls and Sunshine