PCT Days celebrates its 10th anniversary

PCT Days celebrated its 10th anniversary this year in a typically jubilant and down-to-earth style. Current thru-hikers mixed with PCT alumni and local section hikers at Oregon’s Cascade Locks Marine Park, while a lineup of outdoor adventure retailers and cottage-industry folks displayed products ranging from sleeping pads and thermal underwear to ultra-lightweight stoves and dehydrated risotto. Record-setting temperatures of nearly 100┬ádegrees┬ádidn’t seem to wilt the crowd’s enthusiasm or take away from the beautiful Columbia River Gorge setting.

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Organizer Jason Waicunas said the event didn’t even have a name when it started on Thunder Island in 2006. “It was a way of getting hikers together to celebrate the PCT. I think there were five tents and 50 people showed up.” Now its exhibitors and sponsors include Backpacker Magazine, the Pacific Crest Trail Association, Wilderness Press, Klean Kanteen, and Danner, maker of the boots featured on the cover of the best-selling PCT memoir Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

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About 60 Class of 2016 thru-hikers showed up for this year’s event, Waicunas said. “It’s the perfect size that combines just the right mix of trail awareness, community, and marketing,” he said. “I want it to stay just like this.”

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Hikers with trail names like Delightful, Bamboo, and Wildflower who hadn’t seen each other since Tehachapi or Sierra City reconnected and compared trail notes, while raffle winners snagged hiker-nirvana items like waterproof boots with molded insoles, moisture-wicking bandanas, and BPA-free sporks. There were sleeping bag races, best-kept tent competitions, two-man crosscut saw demonstrations, and hiker trivia contests. When the sun went down, the Portland band Aan entertained campers with mellow experimental pop tunes and late-night games of glow-in-the-dark Frisbee and football took over parts of Thunder Island.

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On Sunday, thru-hikers chowed down on bagels, coffee, Oreos, and cereal (courtesy of the American Long-Distance Hiking Association-West) before heading across the Bridge of the Gods to Washington and the final stretch of their life-changing adventure.

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Laura Randall
lark215@gmail.com
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