In the summer of 1981, Rees Hughes and Howard Shapiro, along with mutual friend Jim Peacock, set out to hike the section of the Pacific Crest Trail that runs through Washington state. It was their first encounter with the 2,650-mile PCT, which stretches from Mexico to Canada. Before kids and without major career responsibilities, taking time for a long hike was easy, even if the actual hiking was harder than they’d expected.
“We were just about finished with that hike — we’d been out for about a month — and we ran into these gentlemen who were…probably in their mid to late 60s, maybe 70s,” Shapiro says. The older men talked about how they tried to complete a section of the PCT each summer, which sounded pretty appealing to the younger hikers.
““I think we’re just making good old days all the time, you know?””
“They were going south, and we were going north,” Shapiro says. “And as they walked away, we kind of all three looked at each other and said, ‘We want to be those guys.’”
Four decades later, they are. In between raising families and building careers, the men continued hiking the PCT together and separately, along with other trails around the world. Hughes finished his last section of the PCT in 2016 — he jokes that he broke a speed record — while Shapiro hiked his last mile in 2019.
“I started with Rees and Jim, and I finished with Rees and Jim,” Shapiro says. “They both accompanied me on my last bit, and that was pretty profound.”
Hughes had a similar ending. “I finished it a few years earlier, and Howard accompanied me on the final stretch,” he says. “And Jim had come with me earlier that same year to do one last section that I had to do down in the desert.”
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Recently, Hughes and Shapiro have been reflecting on their years on …….