A husband-and-wife team reached the Pacific Ocean on Saturday after a 4,900-mile cross-country hike, becoming the first to backpack the transcontinental American Discovery Trail in one continuous trek.
Marcia and Ken Powers started Feb. 27 at Cape Henlopen in Delaware. Nearly eight months later, they looked out over the Pacific Ocean at Point Reyes.
“We feel great. We’re done,” Marcia Powers said after reaching the ocean late Saturday afternoon, a day ahead of schedule. “We are a little bit sad that a great adventure is over. It was a fantastic adventure.”
The couple from Pleasanton, Calif., traversed cities, desert, mountains and farmland as they crossed 13 states.
They overcame deep snow in the East, a quicksand scare in Utah, close lightning strikes in the Midwest and blinding desert sandstorms in the West while averaging 22 miles a day and taking only four days off.
But they raved about the French history of St. Louis, the grandeur of the Colorado Rockies, and the kindness of strangers they met along the way. They particularly remember two brothers who put them up in their homes around Chester, Ill., and a motorcyclist who gave them water in the Utah desert.
“Americans are truly warm-hearted and wonderful people,” said Marcia Powers, who is in her 50s. “We got to meet people that we would never meet in our sphere of daily living at home.
“We also got to see America up close. We got to touch it with our feet and hands and smell all its scents and hear its wildlife. It’s an amazing country.”
Joyce and Pete Cottrell, of Whitefield, N.H., were the first to backpack the entire official route of the American Discovery Trail, but they hiked segments out of sequence over two calendar years, finishing in 2003.
The transcontinental trail starts in Delaware, meandering through Washington, D.C., Cincinnati, St. Louis and other cities, 14 national parks and 16 national forests before hitting the Pacific at Point Reyes.
The trail officially opened in 2000, 11 years after it was proposed by hiking enthusiasts as the first coast-to-coast footpath.