New Westminster - Sunday, January 27, 2002
This Canadian/American couple met while cycling
across the U.S. - Now they are backpacking 2,600 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail - And
they think this stuff is FUN?! Are they crazy?
Most people barely venture from their couch and
when they do, they take the car and stay in a motel. Backpacking for six months and
spending each night sleeping on the ground is not their idea of fun. But Rachel
& Scott are cut from unique cloth.
Their journey begins on the Mexican border on April
15th, 2002 and they will follow the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to Canada, some 2,650 miles
in all. The PCT is one of America's National Scenic Trails (see
map). It travels through the hot Sonoran & Mojave deserts, and crosses over
the spectacular High Sierra and Cascade mountain ranges. It can be days between
water supplies in the desert and the High Sierra trail crosses 200 miles of wilderness,
unbroken by roads. Over it's length, the trail crosses 33 Federal Wildernesses, 24
National Forests, 7 National Parks and 5 State Parks.
Can't take 6-month off? Backpacking 2,600 miles isn't your
bag? If you have a computer, you can live vicariously by following their trip on the
web. Their web-site has a map marking their current location, an online journal, a
guest book, oodles of info about the trail, their preparations for the trip, and to
top it off - you can add
your email to an update list - and receive emails when they update the site from the
What motivates these people?
"I've dreamed of hiking the PCT since 1983,"
says Scott (42), an American and 'retired' geophysicist, "I never took the time for
myself. I went straight from high school, to college, to grad school and then work.
I'm ready to play & travel. This time is for us."
For Rachel (31), a Canadian who's quitting her job
as a correctional officer to do the hike, the PCT isn't her dream, but it's grown on
her. "I live for backpacking, hiking, cycle-touring and other such
adventures," she says. "I was going to take a two-year leave of absence
from work to share Scott's dream of adventure and travel, but with the recent Provincial
government cutbacks, it made more sense to quit."
It makes sense to quit? Not everyone would feel
comfortable about quitting their job to hike and sleep in the dirt.
Rachel and Scott are known as
"thru-hikers" and are a special part of the culture of the PCT.
Thru-hikers are the determined few who hike the trail in one trip. This takes
dedication, good planning & physical conditioning. They must make arrangements
to have food and other supplies shipped to them along the way. Rachel and Scott are
making and packaging their own meals by dehydrating dinners, beef jerky, fruit leathers,
and soups. Thru-hikers often experience a deep spiritual effect during their long
long trip. The thru-hiker absorbs the environment and becomes one with it.
It's a special bond that connects all such hikers.
Rachel and Scott met while cycling in a 3,250-mile
charity bicycle ride that benefited the American Lung Association, in 1999. That
event was called the "BigRide". They were married a few months ago and
it's fitting that their honeymoon is a hike of the PCT & affectionately called the
To read more about this intrepid couple, visit
their web-site at the following URL: http://www.randsco.com.
"We love receiving emails from people," says Rachel,
"It's really uplifting to receive mail on the trail."
"Shoot," adds Scott, "It would be great for people to
mail us snailmail letters, notes or -better yet- "care" packages along the
A care package usually contains homemade cookies,
candy or other goodies that thru-hikers relish. Even if you don't hike 2,600 miles
this year, you can give Rachel & Scott your support by sending some goodies their way
(see the itinerary).
Snowfields, mosquitoes & bears - oh my!