Day 135.  Go Big…or Go Home.

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Friday, September 1

lodging north of Bend, OR to Subway on Route 97, Redmond, CA

11+/- miles

Total Miles Hiked: 1999

Things were not going very well this morning and I was fighting with everything I had to keep going.   Traffic whizzed by; big rigs throwing up big gusts of wind that tried to knock me off my balance and steal my hat.  Instead of trail dirt, I was covered in road grime and I was constantly trying to blink out specks of sand from my eyes despite wearing sunglasses.

Although not at all enjoyable, I could have survived with all of that had it not been for the increasing pain I was experiencing from my left heel.  I’ve tried to ignore the pain and not talk about it much so that I could maintain a more positive perspective.    In reality, my heel was aggravated enough that it was affecting my gait, causing aches and issues elsewhere. In a 12-14 hour day of hiking, I was only able to find relief for an hour or two before the pain killers wore off.

Over the last week, I’ve found myself constantly trying to dig out of yet another bad patch and I was relying heavily on support from friends and family to keep going.  The highs just were not lasting long enough for me to endure the next round of lows.

Today, after 11 miles of road walking away from Bend on Highway 97, I stopped for lunch at a McDonalds.  After briefly resuming my walk, pain skyrocketed from a newly blistered and borderline infected toe.  I stopped at a Subway to remove the bandaging and check it out.  When I did so, a glob of pus oozed out from behind my toenail.

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  I reached my limit.  I was staring straight down at the “line” and I couldn’t make it move farther on down the road.  I was done.

I am ok with my decision.  I tackled this journey exactly as I wanted to.  Everyone has their own approach on how to hike the PCT.  For me, my goal first and foremost, was to hike a continuous footpath from Mexico to Canada.  No skipping, no flip flopping.  I chose a very difficult way; the path less traveled.  I was going all out big…or I was going home.

Yes, I failed at my attempt.  And I say that with pride.  Failure cannot happen without effort to achieve something.  I hiked nearly every day for 4 months.  I know that I squeezed out every last drop of determination that I had.  I can now walk away with peace and freedom from self-doubt. 

Although I did not reach Canada as I had hoped, I walk away today with more useful tools in my toolbox.  Some are not necessarily new but more that I previously did not know how to use them and now I do.  I’m going to state a few here, mostly just to remind myself:

1.  I am already strong and determined.  I don’t need to prove that to anyone.

2.  Competitiveness is my friend and motivator but comparison is my enemy and destroyer.

3.  My values are important to me and I am happiest when I live by them.

4.  Self acceptance and self improvement go hand in hand.  It is together that they create balance.

5.  My life is my journey.  Every day holds lessons, challenges and adventures.  Some days are just more spectacular than others.

In parting, I have discovered there are many amazingly wonderful and caring people in this world.  This trek has created  new friendships, strengthened older ones and has turned acquaintances into friends. A huge special thanks, in no special order, to Ann, Brendan, Caroline, Leslie, Halfway, One Day, Adam, Athena, Sara and my honey, Michael.  Thank you also to my mom and dad and two sisters for their constant encouragement and support.  To everyone I’ve met on the PCT and to every one of you that has reached out to me in relation to this trip, thank you for your contact and interaction.  It meant a lot to me.

Live BIG everyone!


18 Replies to “Day 135.  Go Big…or Go Home.”

  1. Patty a job well done! Now get some rest and get rid of the aches and pains. Who knows you may return next year to finish your dream?? We would not be surprised . Love Mom & Dad


  2. What an awesome journey looking at the views, communing with your fellow hikers and venturing within yourself to access your inner strength. Your blogging has been amazingly descriptive and insightful. I have really enjoyed following your journey and although I was looking forward to seeing you on my local trails I will always be reminded of your journey as I play on the PCT. Be well and safe travels.


  3. Making it 1999 miles on a record year of everything (snow, water flow and fires) and likely being shutdown from the fiish line by a huge fire (which even snowed here in the Kelowna area around 100 miles away) is like hiking 4000 miles on a normal year. I hope you can let your mind reflect on the immense successes of surpassing those obstacles.You are a Super Star and an inspiration. Take care, heal and get some great sleep


  4. My dearest sweet Sunkist Patty. This post made me cry. Not from sadness. From the words of wisdom and bravery. I think your journey and struggles really hit home with me in my heart and I have learned so much from you through your process. I am forever grateful that you took me on this journey with you and that you trusted your heart with mine and visa versa. I am so proud of you that there are truly no words that can be said to express that to its fullest. The points you made are so true that I may print them as a reminder to myself as well. I love you immensely and I look forward to hearing about your tails. When you are settled in. XOXO


  5. I am so happy that you are home and that you o.k. with your decision. You have accomplished so much and no one can take this away from you. Your five points to remember I will also take to heart as they are good ones. Now my friend after you have recovered a bit let’s do that celebratory get together with some of your admirers/friends and a playdate with our babies. Big hugs and kisses to you – again so happy you are HOME! xo Leslie


  6. You are absolutely amazing. You really really are! There are not words to for me to describe the pride I have knowing you and I have shared your journey with many. You have come so far in your life since we first met and you have so many more places to go. I liked hearing from you daily and hope to see your blog published and or start your own podcast. Your path is endless. Live long and prosper, Sunkist!!! xoxoxoxoxo


  7. Your an inspiration and an amazing sister. So very proud of all you have accomplished! As I have said before, you are very gifted at writing, and I have tremendously enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you for letting us tag along with you on your journey and looking forward to sharing in your next adventure! Glad your home safe and well! Love you, Sis!


  8. Thank you for taking my mind on an adventure of your incredible journey of strength, endurance, goal setting, humor, meeting strangers to become everlasting friends and taking pictures of vistas and flowers I will never see.  Your tenacity and vulnerable body took all the beating that not many could endure. You did. Seeing yourself being challenged and victorious is a reward of growth and renewed confidence that the next wall was overcome.  Congratulations on an incredible accomplishment.  I will drink a glass or two to your 1999 miles of a life living to the fullest.  There was no failure. Just a body that did its best. Now glow in the glory and recover surrounded by the ones who love you. Sending mine. Love Chris

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone


  9. What an amazing and successful journey Patty! You did such a good job of narrating and documenting your journey that I’ve felt like I was right there with you. Thank you for sharing this journey with me. I’m smiling to think of you reunited with Michael and your fur-babies. Happiness 🙂


  10. So so so so proud of my big sister!!! Incredible journey and incredible accomplishment! Thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and so glad I was able be along for the hike, virtually. Amazing story and beautiful pictures. You’ve done good sis, love you!


  11. No one could have said it better, Patty. You have accomplished so much to be so proud of. Now just focus on your body and letting it heal.




  12. So proud of you Patty. I’ve been vicariously living through your journey and astonished at all you’ve done. As an adventure lover and backpacker, I am so inspired by you. We’ve been keeping you in our prayers for perseverance and safety – know you were/are always thought of! Cannot wait to celebrate your accomplishment when you are home and rested and rejuvenated!!!!!


  13. Patty… might I remind you that the Murray Family who absolutely was the first to do a border to border PCNST through trip had to split our 2,500 miles into two summers … because our quest was to experience a true wilderness. As the John Muir section of the discontinuous PCT/California Riding Trail was snowed to depths that haven’t been witnessed again until this summer, we followed a logical way through many sections that had not been upgraded to the turnpike trail standard that had proved so popular in the Desolation Valley Wilderness experiments the Forest Service actually had to control overuse by removing signposts.

    This was when coming to an obstacle as a fallen tree, or washed out trail-tread blocking the way the choice was to go around, often with ax and shovel, to the left; or right; under; or over…. or turn around and just plain quit.

    So, since I have been following, at Trail Angel #1 Bernadette’s suggestion, your very well-written pages. I have been mesmerized by your old-fashioned “True Grit” style and suggest you haven’t failed to reach your goal because the timing is such that you do not have enough days left this season to make it safely to the border.

    Which is why my suggestion is to get rid of any explanation of “failure” and take some time-out to nurse that infected toe… and start again earlier next season, slower, to really enjoy what I consider the best of the “Oregon Skyline” and Washington’s “Cascade Crest Trail” which along with The John Muir section was the total inspiration of a border to border National Scenic Trail.

    Then put ALL of your very personal experience into a manuscript and let my


  14. Sunkist – thanks so much for sharing your journey and all the ups and downs, both on the trail and in your head and body. You should be very proud of your accomplishments in this very challenging year. Selfishly, I hope you decide to finish Washington, whether it’s next year or some other time so that I can continue to enjoy your pictures. I loved all your wildflower shots and how you ended each post with a shot of a PCT trail sign. Take the time to heal and decompress and let us know how you are doing once you are off the trail for a while. Best wishes for a quick recovery and here’s to your next adventure. perhaps the trail I’ve been working on for three summers via day hikes, the Tahoe Rim Trail. You’re an inspiration and a rockstar!


  15. P~ You achieved so much more than you had planned on. So very proud of you on so many levels. I learned a lot through YOUR adventures and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Kudos to you for making the smart decision. Kudos to you for adding incredible new tools in your tool box….I may need to borrow some of those tools. I’m happy you are healthy, safe, and most importantly HAPPY back at home. Would love to celebrate all your victories! HUG!! M.


  16. I have 100 times more respect for your continuous steps effort than anyone hitting the finish line after skipping or flipping around the hard stuff. This was a crazy hard year to thru-hike this trail. Even 1999 miles of it is a huge accomplishment. My hat’s off to you. Thank you for your blogs too. I’ll be going through to fill in the gaps I missed while I was on the trail.


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