An Incredible Support System Is Discovered… Peggy’s Perspective on the PCT Adventure

We met Jeanine (center) when we backpacked into Seiad. She had just hiked in from Castle Crags. In addition to being a PCT hiker, she is a ‘Trail Angel’ providing support to through hikers. Here, she makes Bone’s acquaintance.

The Trekker Telegraph

There were times that communication with Curt was critical. For example: Circumstances sometimes required that I change my location from where we had agreed to meet.  That’s where the trekker telegraph came in handy! Curt was hiking north to south while most through-hikers were traveling south to north. This meant that the majority of hikers I met at the trailhead would pass Curt along the way. Much to my delight, I could send messages with them.  They had a true appreciation of just how difficult the hike was and were more than supportive of Curt’s adventure. They were also used to sharing information with fellow hikers. (It didn’t hurt that I bribed them with apples, apple juice, fresh water, peanut butter, scones and beer.) I’d give them his card with his photo and away they would go. The more worried I was, the more hikers I gave the message to. Curt laughingly told me when he came out at Burney Falls that he had heard I was in a new location some 13 times! Good thing, since I was several miles away from where he was expecting me. Laugh all you want, Curt.

I truly enjoyed getting to know the through-hikers. I was amazed at the variety of ages, genders, nationalities, repeat trekkers, segment trekkers, first timers, and seasoned hikers. They all had stories to tell and were glad to share.  They also wanted to hear about Curt. We had a sign on the back of our van that featured his adventure.

The sign on the back of our van often led curious people to ask me what the story was. These included through-hikers as well as people in campgrounds and towns along the way. Here the tale is a bit different. The photo includes our friends Tom and Leta. Tom helped Curt create the first Sierra Trek in 1974 and they have been causing mischief ever since.

More Support

The sign also drew people in at campgrounds and in the small towns where I shopped along the way. They would stop by to visit, ask questions, share personal or family stories about the PCT, and often ask how they might help out. I distributed lots of Curt’s cards.  

Trail angels are people who volunteer to support trekkers by providing water, food, lodging, and transportation along the way. We met a great one in Seiad Valley. Jeanine had hiked the PCT, as had her son. She lived near Burney Falls and regularly supported through hikers on the 30-mile section south of the Falls where there wasn’t any water. She immediately offered to help Curt, becoming a friend to be cherished! I saw her again near Burney Falls where I had a fun lunch with her and her friends. Later, she and her husband joined both of us for pizza in Burney. Her information about the trail was invaluable. The lack of water combined with 105 F temperatures ultimately persuaded Curt to save the Burney section for another time, however. 

Other people jumped in to help whenever help was needed. My friend Barbara and her husband Carl, long time hikers, gave us a ride to Mt. Ashland where we started the TMT. Tim and Sandra Holt in Dunsmuir, friends from Curt’s past, offered to let our nephew Jay leave his car at their home when Jay joined Curt for a 100-mile segment. My own trail angel activities paid dividends. One couple I had given a ride to, drove all the way to Sonora Pass just to check on me and to see if there was any news from Curt!

RV Angels is a new category! I made that one up but I have a few stories of campground hosts and RV Park hosts who helped me out. I was traveling without reservations for most of the trip as I needed the flexibility to be where I was needed most. The challenge was finding space. One host (in Chester) who had no open spaces heard my story, told me to wait a moment, made a call, and then returned to tell me she had a spot. That night she returned and said I could stay as long as I needed! Another host (in Burney Falls) offered her private phone number for emergencies and her private internet server so that I would have consistent service. Another host (Lake Tahoe/Truckee) squeezed me in between some big rigs and said she would find a spot for me if I needed to stay longer.

Several friendships were made. Some will continue to grow over the next few years. A favorite story is about Linda. I had just returned to Quivera (the van) and saw Linda with her quilting supplies, sewing machine, and materials spread out over the picnic table. Yes, I love quilting so, of course, I had to introduce myself and rave about her skill! Next thing I know we are sharing a glass of wine and just having a great time talking a mile a minute! She and her husband Pete were part of a local group that RV together. The men would go fishing and the women would quilt. Then all would party in the evening. Turns out she grew up in the Lassen NP area and still had a summer home. We agreed we would tackle Lassen Peak next summer. When we finally returned home in September, Linda had sent me the quilt that I had so admired. What a gem!

Then there was the homemade coconut cream pie. Jeanine and her friends had recommended a restaurant in Falls River. It was known for its coconut cream pie. Curt was excited; he loves coconut cream pie. Bad news, they were out. Good news, when the baker heard Curt’s story, she headed into the kitchen and made another pie!! Little things mean a lot. Curt claimed it was it best he has ever eaten. (I wonder if that had anything to do with eating backpacking food for weeks?)

The Falls River Hotel where Curt got his Coconut Cream Pie.

Other Thoughts

Family connections:Yes, I worried about Curt on the trail. That is who I am. Our kids were great about checking in regularly. They were also receiving the evening messages from Spot, the GPS tracker, letting them know where Curt was and that all was well. What was best, though, was that our 13-year-old grandson Ethan joined Curt for one segment and Jay, our 30-year-old nephew, joined him for another. Now I could relax. A bonus came along with Ethan. Our daughter Tasha and her other son, Cody, joined me and we were able to play for a week. 

Jay and I just before he and Curt took off to hike the hundred miles to Castle Crags.
Here I am with my grandsons Cody and Ethan and my daughter Tasha above Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe after Ethan had come out from his hike with Curt due to a sprained ankle.
We had introduced Tasha to backpacking several years earlier. She’s shown here just north of Yosemite on a trip we were on.

Birthday at Castle Crags:Believe it or not, I have never spent my birthday alone! I LOVE birthdays and have turned mine into a day per decade celebration. So, this summer was a bit different. However, there were a few surprises. Of course, the kids called. Then I received a phone call from Jay and Curt who stopped on top of a mountain and discovered a cell signal. I had answered concerned about an emergency and was greeted by a stirring rendition of Happy Birthday to you! What fun! To celebrate, I then called our friend Sandra Holt and invited her to join me for train-car dining at the Railroad Park where the wait staff spoiled me rotten. OK, I really was not alone.

On being by myself:One afternoon I was enjoying a beautiful spot at my campsite in a forest campground about ten miles from Sonora Pass. Shaded by pine trees and enjoying incredible mountain views, I pulled out my guitar and softly sang and played my favorite folk songs (Think 60s-70s.) I noticed a father and daughter standing behind the van and listening discretely. When I picked up some artistic word searches I had been designing, the two of them approached. The father said his daughter had a question: Was the TMT sign on the van true? Yes. Then what did I do with myself each day?

It was a good question. I had never really traveled on my own in the RV. There was plenty of down time while I waited for Curt. My day included reading (lots), playing the guitar, writing a daily journal, creating artistic word searches (the daughter got quite excited about this and offered to test them for me!), following the news, keeping the RV resupplied, researching campgrounds, hiking, and supporting Curt. I used social media when I had an internet connection to keep up with friends and my responsibilities as President of the Friends of Ruch Library.

Hiking alone in the woods by myself was also a first. Walking 2 to 3-miles daily on local trails wasn’t a problem. Longer hikes presented a bit more of a challenge. First, I had to get used to the quiet. Then there was the expectation of encountering large, furry animals on my own. Deer fine.  The mama bear and her two cubs was another story— especially when they decided to walk toward me. Being directionally challenged, I am always concerned about getting lost. I paid real close attention every time the trail split, carried a whistle, and loaded up with water and snacks. My conclusion, I love hiking but I prefer to hike with Curt. (Grin.) We finished off our adventure by backpacking together in the Three Sisters Wilderness of Oregon.

While waiting for Curt I hiked up the trail toward Castle Crags. It was one of several longer hikes I took.

This wraps up my observations. I was reminded that being back in nature does rebalance the mind. The think time and quiet time when wandering in the woods cannot be matched. There is a good reason that Curt and I are soulmates. So, here’s to our next adventure. I am thinking the PCT in Oregon deserves much more of our attention!

Here I am on the PCT in the Three Sisters Wilderness of Oregon.

28 thoughts on “An Incredible Support System Is Discovered… Peggy’s Perspective on the PCT Adventure

  1. News media of all types most often focuses on the problem people in the world. But just as your post reveals, I am frequently reminded that most people, given a chance, are “angels.”

    • Agreed Ray. The media gets more attention, which translates into ad revenue, by focusing on the bad stuff. Not totally its fault, however, since our (speaking generally) tastes contributes to what the media focuses on. Most people are good! –Curt

    • Thank you! Your comments motivated me to continue the story. As I do not consider myself a writer, I appreciated everyone’s thoughts and appreciation for “the other side of the story.” Peggy

  2. What a wonderful tale. I am going to keep the quilting thing on the down low, if my wife catches wind of it, I’ll be banished to the trail. Hey, but then there is coconut cream pie…. Hmmmmm….

    Hiking 2,000 miles vs pie.

    Tough decision.

    • Peggy is laughing about the quilt. As for the coconut cream pie, I will confess that there are easier ways to get it. 🙂 There’s no doubt about my passion for it, however. When I was young (11-12) I worked as a church janitor each Saturday to earn money. I’d earn four dollars for four hours of work. I’d get my four dollars and head immediately down to the Gold Chain Restaurant in Placerville, spending a dollar on a piece of coconut cream pie and a cup of coffee— one quarter of my weekly income! –Curt

    • It is good to know that I was not alone in my perspective……grin! The conversation in my head as I hiked alone was pretty humorous as I marked landmarks, considered the “what ifs” and, of course, thoroughly enjoyed nature at its best. I have to admit that encountering mama bear and her family had my mind racing for a alternatives even as I pulled out my camera to get a good shot…..LOL. Peggy

    • “Again, the people make all the difference!” Yes they do, AC. As I am sure you experience over and over as you make your way back and forth across Europe! (In your case, I’d add the animals you carry.) 🙂 –Curt

  3. I appreciate you continuing letting us take a peek into the other side of this remarkable journey, Peggy. You two are the perfect soul mates. You have quite a good-looking family too.
    I’ll look forward to your posts on the next adventure!

  4. Another great post, Peggy! I love the community of the hikers. It seems to be a constant. Every time I read something by hikers, there’s this instant camaraderie. I love reading the stories and am sure it would be even better to swap stories on the trail itself.

    • Thank you! I did hear about two other people with RVs along the way who were supporting their spouses on the PCT. I missed them as they had already left the campgrounds. I do wish I had connected with others like me to share stories. One rumor was of a spouse who never showed up….hmmm. Peggy

  5. Such a wonderful story Peggy! You are a storyteller, for sure 🙂
    Even though Curt might have taken the laurels on PCT (no offence, Curt! LOL) Peggy was the real support, all the time.
    Have a wonderful weekend, both of you!
    Christie

  6. Such a treat to hear your side of the story! You two appear to be well matched indeed! Such adventures you’re having. Makes life well worth living.

  7. People often ask me if I’m not uneasy, or scared, to travel alone. Since I began solo travel by heading overland from Liberia to London, with no more firm plans than to meet my former husband under the clock at Victoria Station at a certain date and time, everything else has seemed a piece of cake (or coconut pie!).

    But just as interesting are the questions about solitude, loneliness, and all that. I’ve learned the same lesson you seem to have learned, Peggy — no matter the nature of the trail, we’re never really alone. There are a lot of fine people out there who are more than willing to help someone out — partly because of the pleasure it gives them.

    This was a really great entry. I enjoyed it tremendously.

    • Thank you for the affirmation that no matter the situation, we are not really alone. I love the curiosity of people along the way, the courage to ask questions, and the support from so many. Peggy

  8. Peggy, it’s lovely to hear your voice here, and to get a sense of your adventure at the same time as Curt’s adventure. If you had never been on a trail alone before, then it must have taken some bravery to get out there and do that. You are beautiful, fun, caring, and brave too! Curt is lucky to have you. It’s also neat to hear all the stuff you learned about the culture of PCT.

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