Keaton Blair, 23, was born and raised on Bainbridge Island and is hiking from Canada to Mexico on the Pacific Crest Trail.
He started July 13 and is hiking about 20 miles a day. He plans on finishing his 2,650-mile trek in about two weeks.
“The thought of being immersed in the wilderness, waking to the sunrise and working tirelessly towards this single, all-encompassing goal calls to me. Hiking the PCT has been a dream of mine for years,” he says on keatonblair.com/blog.
He started by driving into REI in Seattle with his grandpa to get microspikes. Then he drove up to Harts Pass. He first hiked north to the Canadian border to tag the monument there before returning. Heading south he planned to pick up supplies at Stehekin, and then meet family at Steven’s Pass for fresh food and hugs.
“A mile or two in, and just as I’ve resigned myself to being alone in the mountains forever, I meet my first people,” from somewhere in Europe. Not long after his left foot starts to hurt; he injured it in a marathon. “I better not get hurt and have to quit on Day 1,” he writes. He massages his feet, eats trail mix and Cliff bars. “If I can’t make it more than five miles in a day, I’m not going to get very far out here.”
He meets a father and daughter from Scotland, he pitches his tent, eats mac and cheese and hot chocolate, and chats with them as they settle in for the night.
On July 19 he reaches Stehekin, a very small mountain town. He sees folks he’s already met on the trail. They do laundry. As he heads out he hears rustling in the bushes. “Two bears. This is the best day ever,” he writes.
On July 24 he reaches Stevens Pass, with family and food. “I feel indulgent and wonderful, supremely satisfied with my lazy day and pizza and audiobook finish.”
Along the way, he has dealt with not only aches and pains, but also thunder, snow and the especially annoying mosquitoes. But he continues on.
On July 27, he writes: “I’m walking along a rocky section of trail when I see a mountain goat also using the trail, walking directly towards me. I wonder when it will run away, but it never does, only stepping to the side when I come close to it and remaining in place, like any patient hiker I’ve passed today.”
Later that day he arrives at Stevens Pass. He meets with family for more hugs and a feast before they drop him off at a hostel for the night.
On July 31 he arrives at Cascade Locks on the Oregon border. He is disappointed to find out parts of the trail are closed due to forest fires. He meets up with his parents again and they chow down on fresh blueberries, melon and homemade cookies. “This is paradise. I take a shower, washing the layers of caked-on dust from my legs and feet.” He adds of his parents, “I’m beyond grateful for their support, and I feel incredibly loved and valued.”
On Aug. 4 he arrives at Trout Lake, which has a store and a few restaurants. There are hikers everywhere, he writes. His resupply crew shows up with watermelon and rhubarb pie.
On Aug. 12 he spots a fire. He watches a plane circling then two smoke jumpers responding. The plane makes another pass and more parachutes appear. “The people parachuting in are about to spend days performing intense manual labor in thick smoke and heat, risking their lives all so that I can continue my climbing and hiking like normal.”
On Aug. 14-15 he gets a ride from the trail down to Bend for some short rest and relaxation. He borrows an e-bike and goes to REI for a new fuel canister. He gets a map and decides where to go to avoid the fire with a detour.
On Aug. 18 he and a friend he made on the trail nicknamed “Death Trap,” near a lake, “where we walk along the lake shore and enjoy the natural beauty. When we find an abandoned pool floaty, I’m extremely excited, and I jump in the lake and float around.” It is “exactly the kind of ridiculous thing I didn’t realize I wanted, and I relish the moment.”
On Aug. 26, after two days resting in Ashland, he climbs Mount Ashland and reaches California. “It feels sooo good to be standing in California, and I’m blown away that I walked here from Canada. I celebrate the only proper way for this level of excitement: singing ‘I’m on a Boat’ by the Lonely Island at the top of my lungs.”
On Sept. 6, after passing Mount Shasta, he stops in Burney, where a church hosts hikers. “It takes four rounds of soap and scrubbing before my legs even resemble clean,” he writes. He meets up with others he’s met on the trek, and they eat at a restaurant together.
On Sept. 10, he reaches the halfway point, just after going through barren and hot Mount Lassen National Park.
After dealing with heavy smoke and itching from gnats for a few days, he reaches the Tahoe Rim Trail on Sept. 17. They reach South Lake Tahoe and go to a pizza place that “has the best goat cheese appetizer I’ve ever eaten, and I resolve never to eat goat cheese without raspberry jam again.” He stays there for a few days with many of his new friends.
Blair hadn’t written in his blog for about a month, but on Oct. 20, his brother Joah, 13, said he’s in Los Angeles and hopes to finish his journey Nov. 6. Their dad will go down and fly home with him.
Joah said his brother about two days earlier had hiked 24 hours straight, going 75 miles. He said when he met his brother a few times on the trail he was tired but his muscles were getting used to it. His brother likes to climb, and bike, and he recently converted his graduation present into a camper van.