38 years after her solo hike, ‘trail angel’ helps at end of Pacific Crest Trail

There were no cellphones when Carolyn “Ravensong” Burkhart, at age 21, hiked the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail alone in 1976. She wore heavy mountaineering boots, carried a 50-pound pack and went for days at a time without seeing another human being. It took her six months, and when she finished on Sept. 30, 1976, she was one of 12 hikers who had signed the register naming those who completed the entire journey that summer.

Today, several hundred hikers attempt the trek from Mexico to Canada each summer and, depending on the weather, a few dozen or a few hundred may finish. Many of them call home regularly to report their whereabouts and arrange for food drops. Some wear running shoes instead of boots, and their journey is usually shared with many other hikers along the way.

But despite the differences, Burkhart said some things haven’t changed in the 38 years since she completed this arduous walk through California, Oregon and Washington. That includes the need for trail support. To make the entire trip, Pacific Crest Trail hikers need outside help to be successful.

Burkhart said she relied on her mother to send packages of food to post offices or ranger stations, where she picked them up along the way. Now, at age 59, Burkhart still hikes, but she’s also a trail angel — one of many people who help PCTers along their journey.

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