“Well, my knees won’t last forever – I’m 46 and if I’m going to use them I had best get on with it.”
Hi. My name is Tim and I have had bad knees since I was 16 (patellofemoral pain syndrome). They have deteriorated to the point that my knee specialist has told me that my only option left is total knee replacement. Since I am still relatively young and no one will do the complete replacement yet, pain it is.
In early 2013 I found myself thinking about the ‘glory days’ of my teens, when I went backpacking or camping nearly every month for 7 years in the Boy Scouts. When I was 12 years old I went on a landmark backpacking trip with 2 other scouts and 2 leaders. We hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Dee Wright Observatory south to Waldo Lake. We covered 57 miles in 6 days, including a summit of the Middle Sister. I did it as a 95 lb beanpole of a kid, and I carried 35 lbs of 70’s era gear in an external-frame pack. It was a tall order for a kid my size to carry 1/3 my own weight without even a hip belt, but it turned out to be one of the pinnacle experiences of my life.
So I decided that I would like to reprise that trip after 35 years. But as I started planning I discovered that there were good reasons to deviate from the original itinerary. Those changes altered where water would be available, which altered where I should camp. I didn’t plan to summit the Middle Sister this time. Once I realized this was going to be a new hike over old ground, I decided to extend it as well. I completed this hike July 29-August 4, 2014. I ended up hiking from Dee Wright Observatory all the way to Hwy 58 (McKenzie Pass to Willamette Pass), a span of 75.5 miles known as Oregon Section E of the PCT. Suddenly, I was a section hiker. I also learned that I truly can hike long distances on these old knees.
In the process of planning that hike I fell in love with the idea of hiking the whole PCT, from Mexico to Canada. This is a much larger goal. At 2,650 miles, I would need to hike 20 miles per day for 134 days. Allowing for the occasional rest day, that means a trip lasting nearly 5 months. Since there is little chance of getting 5 months off from my job, I have concluded that I will just have to stay in 20-miles-per-day shape until I retire. At that time I’ll be free to make the trip, and hopefully I will still be in good enough shape to pull it off. Many people have done it at that age, so I know it’s possible. I’ll just have to use my knees until they fail, and then get new ones if necessary. I won’t let them stop me.
This blog is a record of my efforts to reach that goal.