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PCT - Trail to a Cure


The Pacific Crest Trail, a long distance and mostly natural wilderness path, covers an approximate distance of 2,650 miles from the U.S. Mexican border near Campo, California to Manning Park, British Columbia, about eight miles north of the U.S. Canadian Border in the North Cascade Mountains.  The trail has been on my mind ever since reading a newspaper article about its dedication as a U.S. National Scenic Trail way back in 1968. Unlike the many I attempt to follow who have managed to take a long leap of faith or otherwise wrench free of their familiar, safe, and financially nurturing world to hike a long distance trail, I have waited and dreamed about it far too long.

I am a retired business owner. Happily married, my wife and I have raised two great sons.  Jordan, whose trail name is “Luggage”, will be posting my daily experiences and photos on  Our other son, Galen, who along with his wife Misty, are parents to our two beautiful grandchildren, Kalista and her little brother Gage. 

Kalista, or as we call her “Kali”, is the motivation for our family’s parallel fund raising effort while I attempt a 5+ month thru-hike of the PCT.  Well before the age of five, she was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis.  Kali, who is now eight years old, continues to be our amazing Histio Warrior. (Kali's Histio Warrior page)  My thoughts of Kali and her unfortunate hardships will provide more than cursory motivation for me as I meet the mental and physical hardships the trail will undoubtedly present. 

Having worked most of my life, I now have the time, resources, and God willing, I’ll still have the physical and mental attributes required to accomplish a thru-hike. The average age of thru-hikers on the PCT is, after all, one third my age.

When I was 11 years old, a neighborhood friend and I decided we were going to get permission from our parents to pack up some camping gear, food, and a tent, and walk out into the Maryland woods to a creek nearby our homes and spend the night. Their permission granted, we set out to discover, learn, and experience the outdoors.  The excitement of that night near that babbling creek has never left me.  I eventually became an avid outdoorsman, caver, backpacker, and climber.  As a Scoutmaster and certified rock climbing instructor for the Boy Scouts of America, I led boys on camping and backpacking trips in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, climbing expeditions in Joshua Tree National Park, and canoe trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Northern Minnesota.  All the while, the PCT was quietly calling.

My personal reasons for hiking the trail, even with exceptional attempts at explaination, will not be completely understood by everyone.  Little Kalista’s condition notwithstanding, the reasons are much the same as the ones sited in past journals I have read.  Although not so easily, I “found” myself long ago, so you can leave that reason out.  What remains are a list of overly used adjectives that, no matter how creatively combined, somehow always lack a certain elusive and even ethereal quality necessary for complete understanding.  Suffice it to say, that for me, and likely countless others, despite the required exertion and self-imposed deprivation that serious backpacking requires, the effort and surroundings release endorphins. From somewhere in the depths of the primal genomic realm, wilderness experiences and long distance walking connect us with a distant and quite natural past. God’s natural world is beautiful. Having the opportunity to immerse myself in it, at two and a half miles an hour for five to six months is, for me, the dream of a lifetime. 

If you would like to make a donation to The Histio CURE Foundation on behalf of my granddaughter Kali, please click the big red "Donate Now" button at the top right of this web page.  In order to track our donation progress, please include a comment referencing PCT - Trail for a Cure.  Thanks and have a blessed day! 

Time to get on the trail – The trail to a cure!

 ~  Al O’Neal

 Al on the PCT.jpg

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