By Wagonmaster Greg "Strider" Hummel
Confirmed attendance was about 260--an all-time record. This mob was made up of approximately 120 aspiring thru-hikers(!), 30 past thru-hikers, 30 aspiring future thru-hikers, 10 trail angels (as in live on the trail and assist hikers as opposed to the huge number of trail angels that help out at the ADZ), 40 section hikers, 10 curious/supporter/government, 6 girlfriends, 4 moms, 3 dogs and 2 llamas!
Representing the PCTA were Liz Bergeron, Executive Director; Joe Sobinovsky, Program Director; and directors Eric Weinmann, Henry Shires, and Barb Hodgin. They gave a short speech to the crowd on the focus of the PCTA, were successful in signing up several new members, and sold a lot of shirts and PCT cool stuff.
Tim Stone, the USFS Manager of the PCT also attended and kept a pretty low profile. He said that he liked getting into the feel of the trail community and hearing the concerns and issues of the hikers.
In addition to Tom Reynolds' bear canister packing demonstration, Monte Dodge gave his clinic on pop can stove making and gave away many to the aspiring thru-hikers. A number of cat food can stoves were also given away. Monte also brought a large roll of Tyvek and could be seen mobbed by a crowd of hikers for about two hours, measuring it out, cutting it off, and selling it for $1/foot. Thanks Monte and Tom!
Meadow Ed sat at the end of the food line on Friday night and Saturday night with the list of registered attendees and checked off names and wrote down the names of those that we didn't have. This list provided the most accurate count of attendance that we have ever had. Thanks Ed!
Saturday evening as it was beginning to grow dark I was approached by a hiker who said they had passed a hiker south of Hauser Canyon who didn't look like he would be able to make it to Lake Morena by dark and didn't have shelter with him. Reynolds and I mobilized to the locked gate at Hauser Canyon to see if he might be there, but found no one and nothing. We enlisted the help of the rangers and mobilized some volunteers and supplies to help look for him. We found him just up the trail a bit, severely dehydrated, deeply exhausted, and without a working flashlight. We helped him back and fed him dinner and he was fine. He had underestimated his conditioning, the distance, brought the wrong kind of food, etc., etc. He learned some good lessons though! A real big Thanks to Tripod, Paul Hacker, As A Bat and Yosemite for helping to find him. Next year we'll be a bit better prepared for something like this.
Two banjos, a guitar, a set of bongos and several beautiful voices made music around the fire Saturday night under a full moon.
Thanks to Christine Kudija for making up name tags that gave the trail name, real name and status, all pre-printed from the website register. Adorned with the PCT logo and "4th ADZPCTKO," these will certainly become collectors items in the future.
Thanks to Norm Switzer (one of the Kelty Kids, 1977) for bringing a 15 or so watermelons.
Thanks to Anne Reidman who, with her husband Jim, not only stash water at Scissors Crossing and the Lucky 5 site, but also made a huge, huge pasta salad. How fast it was consumed was a testament to how good it was.
Many other contributions both big and small were made to the event by many, many individuals. There are many that I am certain that I don't even know about. Thank you to all of you.
All of you who contributed to the cost of running this event subsidized the feeding of approximately 120 thru-hikers! Jack Coughlin (and maybe others!) couldn't attend but sent in a donation to help anyway.
About 10 to 12 - 2001 thru-hikers were in attendance. Thank you for coming back to help the 2002'ers! Nine (!) thru-hikers from 1977 came (and you thought they were all dead by now), second only to the 2001'ers in attendance for any year.
Special recognition of Charlie Jones's efforts must be made known. He has directed and executed the initial stashing of 68 (!) gallons of water on top of the San Felipe Hills. This is done by hiking the water in! The access to the stash site is a mile from the trail but several hundred feet of elevation below. Three gallons are put in a backpack and a gallon in each hand (calculate 5 gallons x 8 lbs./gallon = 40 pounds). 68 divided by 5 is 14 trips. He was helped by several members of the Sierra Club. Charlie and crew have been re-stocking it regularly ever since and will do so until the end of May or so. I hope those that use this water will read this and understand just what it takes to provide that water.
The second Annual Great Pacific Long Distance Hiking Gear and Invention Review attracted a broad range of items and strategies. You can read more about the contest and see a list of winners here.
Pictures of all the entries can be seen here.