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URMC / Highland Hospital / Medical Professionals / Physician News / November 2018 / Abby McCarthy, PA, Backpacks on Pacific Crest Trail

Abby McCarthy, PA, Backpacks on Pacific Crest Trail

Abby McCarthy, PA, Backpacks on Pacific Crest Trail

Photos of Abby McCarthy, PA, on the Pacific Crest Trail

Abby McCarthy, PA, recently took a six-month leave to backpack on the Pacific Crest Trail, a continuous foot path that covers approximately 2,650 miles. The trail traverses through 25 national forests and seven national parks as it travels from Mexico to Canada via California, Oregon and Washington. This year it celebrated its 50th anniversary. Here is her story and some of her photos.

Over its 50 years, people of all backgrounds have traveled on the PCT. Some hike for just the day, some aim to cover a certain section over a few days, and some attempt to "thru" hike the trail, i.e., walk the full distance end-to-end, in one go. 

I chose to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of my Appalachian Trail Thru hike (approximately 2,176 miles from Georgia to Maine) with a Pacific Crest Trail Thru hike. Over five-and-a-half months I backpacked through desert, snowy mountain passes, and along rocky ridges. Carrying on my back my home, my food and water, and all my other daily necessities, I walked an average of 19 miles a day while I reveled in the views of the Cascades, the Sierra Nevada and the San Jacinto ranges, just to name a few. 

Being born and raised in the east, and in love with it, I never expected to be so bewitched with the massive expanse of the west. The diversity of the path, from rocks to the wild flowers, the expansive of trees, and the wild critters, held me to my goal. My dietary intake rarely varied from oatmeal, ramen noodles, and bar snacks, all of which were eaten cold. I slept in everything from snow to 100 degree temperatures, and crossed wild streams fed by fresh snow melt, as well as desert expanses with over 20-mile stretches without water.  And I was happy every day, and thankful to be out in the wild.


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