When I sat down with Bree Fuqua at her home in Kalispell over three months ago and began listening to her explain the journey ahead, I felt very, very nervous.
One of the best parts about being a reporter is you have the privilege to write about people accomplishing great things and overcoming unbelievable obstacles. But almost always, the writing takes place after the fact, when the amazing feat is complete.
So when I met with Bree in the days leading up to her grand adventure, listening to her describe her goal of hiking the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada in less than four months, I feared about the impact of my story.
What if she failed and the entire community knew about it? What if a story added too much pressure on someone like Bree, who shies away from attention and is extremely humble?
Those questions echoed loudly in my head as I prepared to write my story. I also faced these harsh facts: Only half of the people attempting to hike the entire PCT typically finish, and only about 30 percent are women. It’s believed that more people have summited Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, than successfully thru-hiked the PCT.
And if the odds weren’t already stacked against Bree, she faced a race against time as well. The average hiker takes roughly 153 days to traverse the whole PCT. Because school starts at the end of August, Bree, a special education and math teacher at Glacier High School, only had roughly 112 days available to her.
She left Kalispell by herself on May 4.
I should have trusted the conviction I saw in her eyes. I also should have listened to the words of her best friend, Andy Fors.
“For any other person, I would say it’s crazy, but knowing Bree and her commitment and rare determination, I have no doubt that this is something that is right up her alley and she’ll be able to knock out,” Fors told me in early May.
He was right.
One hundred days later, Bree is down to her final miles. On Aug. 14, the 100th consecutive day of hiking along the PCT, she logged 23 miles and reached 2,425 for the entire trek.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about how blessed I was on this last section of trail,” she wrote on her blog journal, www.breehikes.com.
The final stretch through Washington has been very remote, and she has not been able to update her blog with her satellite phone. But on Monday, she wrote a short post announcing that she was down to her final 80 miles.
“I hope everyone at home is doing well!! This area is amazingly beautiful,” she wrote. “See you all soon!!”
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