Eliza Swackhamer, the Canby High School junior who planned to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, is well on her way. Her mother, Dawn Swackhamer, walked the first 110 miles with her and is now home.
She left Eliza still excited and happy and continuing on her way with only a few "common setbacks." She had some blisters and a stomach virus, "but managed to keep her spirits up and overcome the obstacles." The stomach virus took its toll on her, causing significant weight loss and constant nausea. So Eliza, on her own, reached out to the Trail Angel network, got a ride into town and a bed for sleep to help her get well.
"These things happen, and it was a good learning experience for her to figure out how to manage sickness in this situation," Dawn said.
On May 16, Eliza walked 25 miles and crept toward the 300 mile mark. The next morning she set out from mile 293 and easily passed the 300 mile mark.
While she continues through the desert, the temperatures have been quite hot. Last week she spent a number of days in 100 degree heat. During that trek she reached the top of Mt. San Jacinto, about a 10,000-foot elevation and finished the trail's longest downhill descent at 17 miles.
Dawn said during their walk they'd met many wonderful people along with a few groups of young people. Apparently, she's walking with them now. They come from all over the world – Russia, Australia, Holland, Germany, Hong Kong and even the state of Maine.
"This is one of the toughest things I've ever done," Dawn said of her 110 mile trek. "But I would do it again in a heartbeat. As I returned home I was comforted by the fact that I knew with certainty that Eliza is capable and the people on the trail are super supportive."