Andy here. I finished up the hike on July 10 and have been back home in Seekonk for the last week and a half, after vacationing for a few days in Port Angeles, WA, and then catching up with some friends in NYC, where I also had a live interview on FOX News Channel.
The final stretch of the hike — through the Olympic Peninsula — was one of the absolute best. Aromatic alpine flower gardens, thousand year-old spruce and Douglas fir trees, massive alpine glaciers, eight-inch long banana slugs, 250 species of moss, starfish and anemones, long above-treeline ridgewalks, whale-sized driftwood, people-friendly mountain goats and deer, seastack-studded coastlines, glacial powder-choked creeks and rivers…The Olympics seem to offer a lifetime’s worth of backcountry adventure and surprises.
At Cape Alava there was a crowd of about 30 people to cheer me on as I jogged in the last quarter-mile. I found it appropriate that most of my biggest supporters were there at the end: my parents, two sisters, and brother-in-law; representatives of Montrail and Balance Bar, and the co-founders of GoLite; a dozen members of the Pacific Northwest Trail Association (which kept with the tradition of other trail associations by offering great hospitality all along their trail); and Ron Strickland.
As for the question, “What’s next?” Starting in January 2006 I plan to go on a 5-month, 100-stop nationwide road tour in order to share the best stories and most important lessons of the hike. The tour will be sponsored by GoLite (and hopefully one or two other companies); details will be posted online when they are finalized; and I will probably send out an e-mail, too. Most of the stops will be at specialty retail shops, with a few at trail association offices, and schools and colleges.
In the more near term, this Monday I am leaving for a 10-day trip to Glacier National Park in order to hike some of the trails that were closed in early-June; there might also be one other reason for going (wink, wink). From Glacier I’m heading to Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show. After I return I will probably pack up the car and head west towards a more mountainous state, where I will work on a book proposal, find an expense-covering job, and wait for the tour to begin.
Now that it is over, I would like to thank all of you for being part of the hike. It was always uplifting to hear funny, encouraging, or exciting e-mails from you; and I was always able to find more strength by remembering that a few hundred people were regularly receiving Mom’s e-mails or checking out the website. I hope I have given you something in return.
The website has been completely updated with my pictures. Plan to spend an hour (or two or three) experiencing a branding party, following the route of Lewis & Clark, and penetrating the most remote backcountry in the Pacific Northwest. Enjoy.