Mile Zero

I couldn’t stop laughing. As soon as I saw the sign for Campo, the small desert town 1 mile North of the Mexico border, I wanted to run. At that point I’d gone 750 miles without a full zero (rest day) so my body and mind made a compromise to finish out the last mile at a “speed walk” pace instead. I wore a big goofy grin on my face. I kept looking back at Grizz (who rejoined me 650 miles ago, after spending some time recovering off trail) and told him I thought I could see the monument. And then I laughed some more. 


As I made the last steps to the monument I didn’t really know what to do. So I laughed again as I tagged it, as if physically touching those pillars made it official. Then I looked North and screamed “Wohoo!” at the top of my lungs. 

It was an overwhelming feeling. I thought I would cry, but I didn’t. I was just so incredibly happy. I kept repeating out loud “I just walked from Canada to Mexico. All the way. Every single step” because it was impossible to believe if I didn’t verbalize it.

I spent hours on trail thinking about how I’d answer the most common questions I’d get about the trail. I had some serious personal debates over some of these but here’s what I came up with. In the style of an interview with myself, by myself…

What was my favorite part of the trail?

I tried to rank the 5 sections of the trail from favorite to least favorite and why. I had a real hard time when it got past number 1 and 2, because none of the sections deserve to be that low on a list.

1. Washington- the beginning of my adventure, the mountains that time of year are breathtaking, the most remote section, where I met all my closest friends, Goat Rocks, best water sources, overcame fears of bears and snow

View of Rock Pass from Woody Pass

2. The Sierra- high passes, unbelievable lakes, rocky and steeper trail, stupidly amazing stars, not voted number 1 probably because I’m a sobo and didn’t experience it with snowy peaks or after finishing the desert, both of which would have made it that much sweeter

Northern Yosemite area

3 and 4. Tie between Northern California and the Desert
NoCal- beautiful forests, up on ridges much of the time, drop in and out of huge valleys to get into town, Mt. Shasta views for days and days

Mt. Shasta seen from Hat Creek Rim

Desert-sunsets, cactus, Joshua trees, wacky towns and people, wind farms, road walks around fire closures

Descending to the highway that takes you to Julian (free pie!)

5. Oregon, although none of these sections deserve to be last- lakes, mosquitos, a different peak to look forward to almost ever day, lava field, Crater Lake, trail magic, too many nobos

View of the Three Sisters from lava field

What was my favorite town stop?
Again, I can’t just pick one, so I’ll do one per state. 

Skykomish, Washington because of the amazing cabin and new friends 

Grizz, Matt, Anja, and I

Ashland, Oregon because we made 10 avocados worth of guacamole 

California. Too many cool town experiences. Honestly same for Washington and Oregon. I don’t even know why I’m trying because I could think of something hilarious, awesome, or completely random from ever town stop on trail.

So this format isn’t working for me. As you can see, I loved so much about this experience it’s hard to answer what people assume are simple questions. The hardest part of the trail? I don’t know. Every day knowing I’d put my body through 30+miles again the next day. Did I get hurt? No, surpisingly not, but you better believe I faceplanted a few times and that’s not fun with a backpack on. Do I feel more connected to nature? Sort of, although I didn’t feel out of touch before. My sense of smell was super sensitive while on trail and perfumes or body wash made me gag. Am I from Canada? NO! Why does everyone ask me that? I walked from there. You don’t have to live in Canada to walk from Canada. Did I walk from Mexico to Canada and then go back? No? What? That’s an extremely difficult accomplishment and although I appreciate the flattery in even being asked that question, I took a combination of plane and car to get to Canada and then hiked South. So did it take me like 3 weeks to complete? Well, more like 4 months. How far have I walked, like 500 miles? You’re close. 2650. Did I camp in the woods? Yes. Every night. Did I wear my shoes to bed? WHAT?! 

Ive gotten all those questions and more. Although I poke fun of them here, I really do love getting asked funny or serious things and attempting to help people understand what I did out there. It’s impossible to understand unless you’ve done it. Even then, I still have trouble comprehending it. So ask away, my friends, because right now I miss being on trail and the best way to cope with that is to reminisce over the glory days. 

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7 thoughts on “Mile Zero

  1. Congratulations Tara. I have a couple of questions. Do you regret not being able to spend more time enjoying the trail, towns and people because you had to keep moving to make your goal of finishing? The challenge of a thru hike is huge but the accomplishment of finishing is even larger. Any regrets?

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  2. It was a privilege meeting you near the end of your thru-hike and hearing about your experiences on trail. I’m also relieved that none of my dumb questions quite rose to the level of getting a mention in your blog. 🙂

    You and Grizz have definitely inspired me to keep up with my PCT hiking, even if it’s on a piecemeal basis.

    So congratulations on this accomplishment and I look forward to reading about your future adventures!

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    • It was so great meeting you and I can’t thank you enough for your help with the rides! I’d love to hear how the rest of the PCT goes for you so keep in touch. Next time I’m in San Diego I hope to take you up on that dinner offer with your wife and daughters. I hope none of the people who asked the questions I laughed at are reading my blog :-0

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  3. Congratulations on completing your goal! Your posts are entertaining and inspiring. I hope you enjoy a really big meal tomorrow.

    Cheers
    Aaron

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