“They said they’d just get another one where they got that one,” says Richard. “I saw that the entire hike. Man acting towards humanity the way we’re supposed to.”
The next day, as he was beginning his final ascent to a 7,000-foot peak, snowfall started to obscure the trail. Just then, another thru-hiker came up behind Richard, a 34-year-old who went by the trail name of OTC. Richard had seen him earlier in the summer but not since.
They hugged, walked together through the snow and camped near the summit at a lake OTC knew about that had good shelter. Richard had camped alone almost every night but not this night. “It was such a comfort to have someone else there,” he says.
The next day Richard covered the final downhill miles to the border alone. He flashed a broad smile and took a selfie with his cellphone when he arrived at the monument marking the trail’s northern terminus. It was straight-up noon on Wednesday, Sept. 25. Right on schedule. Then he walked eight miles to the Manning Park Resort to meet his wife, Jodie, and celebrate joining a club that, at last count, has 2,773 members — the number of people the Pacific Crest Trail Association (pcta.org) credits with hiking the length of the PCT since it started keeping track in 1970.
This year, 145 hikers have to date checked in and been designated “2,600 milers.” The class of 2013, Utahn Richard Kimball Jones among them. He’ll never forget the year he got away from it all to walk from Mexico to Canada — and all the nice people he met along the way.
Lee Benson's About Utah column runs Mondays. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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