To adequately talk about a 2,600 mile walk would perhaps take up more hours than the Ring cycle.
It was for this reason that Heptonstall resident Ray Riches paid a second visit to a Todmorden U3A general meeting to relate the second part of his walk of the Pacific Crest Trail at the August meeting.
The trail follows the Sierra Nevadas and the Cascade Range between Mexico and the Canadian border.
His starting point was the middle of the trail, where he had left off on his first trip and his American friend and support, Ron Moake, aka Falling Water, was to walk the first stage to Ashland, with him.
Ray continued to walk tree-covered country, covering 35 miles each day as there was nothing else to do. After four days he met some people. Human contact at last!
Walkers of the trail send food supplies to the staging posts along the way. Ray arrived at his next post to find his box was not there. At this point, Ray told his audience that he did “forlorn” very well, going about the camp site dropping the word that he was walking the trail and his food hadn’t turned up. Food came his way from all points.
Ray hobbled into the camp at Odell Lake in some pain due to split shins. He was fortunate in encountering Jolene, who plied him with Ibuprofen and treated his legs.
Recovered, after a fashion, Ray set off for his next stop, Shelter Cove, two days later. He arrived there too early to receive his food box but set off again without waiting. Arriving at a parking spot, he was able to garner some food in the same fashion as before.
After leaving his next stop at Timberline Lodge where he had a bed for the night, the trail was disappearing once again under snow. He was due to meet Ron Moake in four days time. It poured with rain, sleet and snow for four days and Ray slept in wet clothes. Then, sunshine, and the opportunity to dry out.
Ray met Ron Moake in Portland and was driven by him to the Washington State line, where he met a friend, John, who walked with him the 400 miles to the Canadian border.
One night they were scared by strange noises but dare not look outside their tents. They were told the following morning that they had heard the mating calls of elk. Ray also encountered a black bear, which ran off as he approached, and, close to the border, two llamas.
Finally Ray got to the border where he signed a register to say he’d completed the trail. He set off on the six mile walk to the road to Vancouver, where he met Ron and they celebrated with a bottle of champagne.
Ray generated much laughter in the telling of his story, much of it situation comedy and enhanced by his impeccable timing.
U3A meets in Todmorden on the third Thursday of every month. For more information, visit www.u3atod.org.uk.