By Geoff Baker
Seattle Times staff reporter
A Seattle man bidding to set a new speed-hiking record of the Pacific Crest Trail is now scheduled for a Sunday night finish at the Canadian border near Manning Park.
Joe McConaughy, 23, who set out June 18 in Campo, Calif., just a few feet from the Mexican border, would complete the trail in just 54 days — shattering the previous mark of 59 days, 8 hours and 14 minutes set last year by California hiker Josh Garrett.
McConaughy, who is attempting the record to raise money to help support families of cancer victims, had expected to finish Saturday until the rough Washington terrain slowed him down.
Up until then, McConaughy had averaged a blistering 55 miles per day on the 2,663-mile trail. But one of his support-team members, Jack Murphy, said Friday night that McConaughy is feeling the aches and pains of his seven-week journey.
“Joe has had some ankle issues and some of the access points on the trail were further away than we thought they were,” Murphy said.
Murphy and two other friends — who all went to Boston College with McConaughy — are helping him on his journey. It’s dubbed “Run For Colin” in honor of his late cousin, who died from neuroblastoma at age 2. A website chronicling the trip had already raised more than $26,400 of a targeted $30,000 as of Friday evening, with donations going to the group Cancer Care.
This week’s portion of the trail contains some of the most remote and diverse mountain terrain of the entire trip. McConaughy and his support crew, who ferret him supplies in a Honda Pilot SUV they’ve dubbed “Carne Asada,” last met up Thursday night.
From there, McConaughy was to hike and camp on his own for two nights before meeting up with the crew again late Saturday at Rainy Pass, Wash. He then faces another 60-mile hike to the finish on Sunday before continuing on over the border for an additional several miles to a campground on the Canadian side of the border where family and friends await.
Murphy said the crew had to hike about 15 miles from their vehicle on Thursday to reach McConaughy for a scheduled food trip. They’d missed a similar meetup with him back in early July in the High Sierras of California, forcing him to hike several days on his own with only a sleeping bag and a couple of afternoons’ snack supplies with him.
This time, they took care not to miss the drop, but McConaughy’s advance was delayed while he waited for his crew to navigate the difficult path to reach him.
After briefly meeting with McConaughy, he continued onward — food in hand — for several more miles, while they camped out for the night. From there, it was an all-day hike back to their vehicle on Friday.
“We just got in about a half-hour ago,” Murphy said just after 6 p.m. “And we left about 7 in the morning. So, it was a long, tough hike and things are going slower than we anticipated, so we had to break a couple of days into two and change Joe’s plans a bit. Other than the High Sierras, this is about as tough as it has been the entire time.
“But it’s almost over. He’s almost there.”
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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