I met Eric Ryback on April 25th this year while I was attending the 2009 ADZPCTKO . Eric was the first person to thru hike the PCT, back around 1970 when he just graduated from high school. Prior to his hike, it was considered impossible for a person to hike the whole thing in a single season. Eric had also contributed a chapter about his AT thu hike in the classic, now out-of-print, two volume Rodale Press set about people who had completed the AT. After that story inspired me, I applied for and received a grant that funded an outdoor exploration/ backpacking program that was targeted at potential high school dropouts. I credit that program with saving the lives of several young people (who are now old ) whom I still visit with in Rockland, ME.
At the gathering in April, the PCTA made public mention of a completion medallion that would be available to those who had completed the Trail. Eric himself put up the funds to produce the medals, as a way of honoring those of us who sacrificed time, money, blood, sweat, and tears to walk 2,656 miles. Mine arrived in the mail today. I wept when I held it. I’ve never been above average at any sport in my life, but after 60 years, I feel like I’m king of the world. Thanks, Eric.