Kelley Pigott and his sister on the Pacific Crest Trail - photo by Kelley Pigott
Despite being a nearly ten-year old adventure, it seems like just yesterday that I was backpacking through the spectacular mountains of the United States West. Starting off from the U.S.-Mexico border, my sister and I departed from the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT), which stretches 2,650 miles (4,264.76 kilometers) until its northernmost point, the U.S.-Canada frontier. The trail, officially completed in 1993, runs through three of the most scenic States in The Union (California, Oregon, and Washington), and countless national forests, national parks, and wilderness areas. It’s possible to encounter every conceivable type of vegetation and natural landscape along the PCT; it wanders through arid and barren land like the Mojave desert; it traverses through California’s awesome and breathtaking high Sierra Nevada, which reaches over 13,000 feet (3,962.4 meters); it winds through the picturesque Cascade mountain range that forms the spine of both Washington and Oregon. Suffice it to say, the thru-hiker (a term used for those spending months hiking "through" the Pacific Crest) will spend his/her days climbing at various altitudes, the likes of which will present awe-inspiring high-desert flora/fauna and breathtaking subalpine terrain.
In addition to the trail’s beautiful natural surroundings, I also reminisce about the number of amiable thru-hikers we encountered along the way. In fact, we were joined by another pair when we set out from the U.S.-Mexico border. Like most people who adopted monikers for the unique world of the PCT (Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail), our colleagues were no different; one was named “Mouse-Trap” and the other went by “Papi.” The latter was from Eastern Europe and had come to the U.S. to spend his time in the wide open spaces of the West. He wasn’t the lone individual from outside the U.S. either; based on the folks we met, the trail seemed to be quite well-known all over the world, at least in the outdoor enthusiast community. We were quickly given the nickname “The Librarians” because in my ambition to do a lot of reading on the trail, I’d brought a wide-array of books. In light of the fact that we spent the majority of our time hiking (18-30 miles/day), I realized I had a very unrealistic reading objective. Moreover, the extra book weight was an unnecessary burden that was impossible to ignore once we started accumulating mileage. This was all on top of the freshly weighted down backpacks we found ourselves carrying after ‘refueling’ stops. Similar to other thru-hikers, we had boxes of non-perishable food sent to various post-offices along the way. In other words, when we set out to hike anywhere from 80 to 180 miles after a given food pick-up, every last ounce mattered, so an extra pound or two of books was the last thing we desired.
Kelley Pigott on the Pacific Crest Trail - photo by Kelley Pigott
Of the many memories of that first month, none stick out as much as the recollection of my sister’s feet. Although it may not seem like much of a memory, it’s hard to forget a hiking partner who spent hundreds of miles just trying to grin and bear her way through a barrage of blisters. The thought of them on almost every last inch of my sister’s feet still to this day makes me cringe in pain. Luckily, she valiantly overcame the agony and the soles of her feet eventually transformed into hardened callouses.
In addition to feet, my memory also includes many backpacks. Whether because one wore out or it simply didn’t fit well, I went through three different packs in total. This actually turned out into one of those good-Samaritan stories because upon arriving to a food pick-up in the southern California town of Idyllwild, we met a saint of a man, who in all his selflessness, drove us down to just outside Los Angeles in order for me to buy a new backpack. I could fill pages-and-pages with stories of the kind, good-hearted people we met along the way. In fact, I have often said that if you lose your faith in mankind, then hiking the PCT (Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail) is a sure-fire way to revive your positive feelings for humanity. Of the many characters was a fellow who wasn’t hiking the trail per se. Rather, he simply drove to various points so as to provide people with provisions, moral support and good cheer. Apparently, he had been doing this for years and his fame amongst thru-hikers could not have been over-estimated.
While the trail certainly didn’t lack personalities, it’s also worth pointing out that there were times when we felt quite removed from civilization. Unlike the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia on the East Coast of the U.S., the PCT (Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail) is a much more rugged, isolated stretch, so you are often left to your own thoughts for days at a time. It was during this time of solitude that I naturally developed a new relationship with the outdoors, especially the wide-ranging variety of trees that inhabit the Earth. Accompanied by a tree-identification book as we moved northward through different altitudes, I would take time to study and examine all the trees we encountered. This new relationship was further reinforced in California’s Yosemite Park, where we admired the mammoth Giant Sequoias - what an indescribable presence these trees are!
However, before skipping too far forward, I must mention that this was 1998 and since it was the year of El Niño weather patterns, the weather, specifically the snow, proved to be much, much more of a factor than most years. We enjoyed dealing with the elements at times and even spent 15-20 miles at a time in snow-covered paths, but because the snow accumulated to such large degrees in the Sierra Nevada, we decided to skip ahead in order to avoid spending literally hundreds of miles in North-Pole-like conditions. What we did was jump ahead to Northern California, near Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen. This was one of the most scenic parts of the whole trail, but the weather conditions hadn’t changed much from Southern California. In other words, we were forced to trek through snowy conditions, not to mention the countless obstacles, specifically trees, that had fallen into the trail and thus prevented us from easily navigating northward. It actually got a little dicey at times, i.e. we were worried we’d lost our way, but we were traveling with some capable companions who helped us figure out how to reach the next stop off point. Along the way, we encountered our first black bear and even came across another hiker who stopped to play us a tune on the guitar he toted with him. Perhaps most notable of all was my unfortunate trail mishap; I got caught up in Poison Oak, and if you don’t know, it’s a nasty plant that makes you itch / ooze for weeks at a time when you get tangled up in it.
Because of this fiasco in Northern California, we headed up to the PCT’s (Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail) northern terminus, the U.S.-Canada border. We had had enough of the snow and weren’t interested or prepared to deal with such conditions, especially for long periods of time. We hoped that the northern portion of the trail was going to be a change, and while we ended up finding occasional patches of snow, we were relieved to find a much more navigable trail. Since I’m from Washington State I may be biased, but the portion of the PCT (Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail) in the Washington Cascades was my favorite part. Above all, I have fond memories of an area in the northernmost portion of the State, The Paysaten Wilderness; this stretch is full of subalpine flowers, glacier lakes, and thebreathtaking views of the Pacific Crest. All your worries and thoughts vanish when you hike along a ridge bordering lush meadows and wild flowers overlooking a panorama of neighboring snow-capped mountains and far-below valleys.
Kelley Pigott's sister on the Pacific Crest Trail - photo by Kelley Pigott
That spring we wound up hiking approximately 1,300 miles. Like most experiences, when you’re done and look back it’s sometimes hard to believe they ever happened. While I’ll certainly never forget the majestic and solemn nature of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, I always try to forget the food of those months; we ate corn pasta nearly every day and in my lifetime I can only hope I never cross its path again.
Vocabulary: 1. Pacific Crest Trail – "Pacific" refers to the "Pacific Ocean". "crest" means "cresta". "trail" means "senda", "sendero". A map of this trail is on the right.
– a pesar de
3. despite being - a pesar de ser
4. a ten year-old adventure – una aventura de hace 10 años
5. to backpack – to hike - viajar con mochila (similar to “to hike” and “to trek”, but “to trek” is less common as it’s connected to the science fiction TV series Star Trek and “trekkers” or “trekkies” tend to be confused with science fiction fans )
6. through mountains – a través de montañas
7. to start off - salir de viaje o empezar un viaje (similar to “to set out”)
8. my sister and I departed – Why is it not my sister and “me” departed . . .? First, make two separate sentences: “My sister departed . . . ” and “I departed . . .”. Then, combine the two into a single sentence.
9. terminus – terminal. Also, referred to as a “trail head”.This is the end point of a trail.
10. to stretch, a stretch – extenderse. A stretch – un tramo, trecho.
11. northernmost – el punto más hacia el norte – senda, sendero
12. to run through – pasa por (pasa a través)
13. The Union – Synonym for The United States, The. U.S. The U.S.A.
14. countless – very many, innumerable, incontables
15. wilderness - páramo
16. encounter - encuentro
17. conceivable - imaginable
18. landscape - paisaje
19. wander – deambular
20. arid - árido
21. barren – infértil, estéril, árido, yermo
22. Mojave desert - desierto de Mojave
23. to traverse - atravesar
24. awesome – imponente, formidable
25. breathtaking views – vistas impresionantes (vistas que quitan el aliento)
26. Sierra Nevada
- a Natural Park in the U.S.A.
27. to wind through – serpentear a traves
28. picturesque - pintoresco
29. Cascade mountain range – cordillera Cascade
30. the spine – columna vertebral (de las montañas)
31. suffice it to say - baste con decir que
32. thru-hiker - backpacker. (mochilero completista) “Thru” is American English for “through”. A thru-hiker is a backpacker who hikes all of the trail from end to end.
33. the likes of which – del tipo que.
34. awe inspiring – (impresionante) “to inspire” means to “inspirar”. “Awe” means “sobrecogimiento”. Something that is “awe inspiring” is something “awesome”.
35. flora / fauna – the same in Spanish.
36. subalpine terrain, subalpine flowers – “Alpine” means “alpino”. “sub-“ is the same in Spanish.
37. surroundings - alrededores
38. reminisce – rememorar, recordar
39. the number of – el número de
40. amiable – amable
41. in fact – de hecho
42. to join - unirse
43. pair - par
44. to set out - salir de viaje o empezar un viaje (similar to “to start out”)
45. like most people – como la mayoría de la gente
46. to adopt monikers – adoptar un nombre o mote (“moniker” is similar to “nickname”)
47. unique – special, exceptional (NOT “only”)
48. colleagues – trail mates, companions on the trail
49. mouse-trap – a trap for mice (una trampa para ratones)
50. Papi – a good name for an older fatherly figure
51. the latter – el último, means “the second of two” or “the last one”
52. had come – había venido (past perfect)
53. to spend time – pasar tiempo
54. the wide open spaces – los espacios abiertos
55. the lone individual – el individuo solitario
56. folks - people
57. seemed to be – parecía estar o ser
58. quite well-known – bastante bien conocido
59. all over the world – por todo el mundo
60. at least – al menos
61. the outdoor enthusiast community – la comunidad de entusiastas de actividades al aire libre
62. we were given – se nos dieron (past passive)
63. quickly - rápidamente
64. nickname – mote (similar to “moniker”, but more common)
65. librarian - bibliotecario
66. ambition - ambición
67. I’d brought – había traído (past perfect)
68. wide-array – selección amplia
69. in light of the fact – a luz del hecho
70. the majority of - la mayoría de
71. to realize – darse cuenta
72. unrealistic - no realista
73. moreover - además, por otra parte
74. weight - peso
75. burden – carga
76. to accumulate – acumular
77. mileage - millaje
78. this was all on top of – todo esto fue encima de
79. freshly – recientemente
80. weighted down – cargado de peso (“weight” means “peso”, “down” se refiere a la dirección en la que te lleva el peso)
81. backpack - mochila
82. to find ourselves doing something – encontrarnos haciendo algo
83. refueling stop – una parada para repostar
84. to have something sent – hacer que se mande algo
85. non-perishable food – comida no perecedera
86. post-office – oficina de correos
87. along the way – a lo largo del camino
88. in other words – en otras palabras
89. anywhere from 80 to 180 miles – entre 80 y 180 millas (“anywhere” is NOT “anyplace” or any “place” – it means any number “between” 80 and 180 – el número “oscila” entre los dos números)
90. a given food pick-up - un punto de recogida de comida determinado
91. every last ounce mattered – hasta la última onza importaba
92. so – así que
93. the last thing we desired – lo último que deseabamos
94. none stick out as much as – ninguno destaca tanto como
95. recollection - recuerdo
96. although - aunque
97. it may not seem like much of a memory – puede que parezca un recuerdo poco importante
98. to grin - sonreir ampliamente
99. to bear - aguantar
100. barrage - aluvión
101. blister - ampolla
102. on almost every last inch of my sister’s feet – en casi hasta la ultima pulgada de los pies de mi hermana
103. to this day – hasta el día de hoy
104. makes me cringe in pain – me hace encogerme de dolor
105. luckily - afortunadamente
106. valiantly - valientemente
107. to overcome - superar
108. agony - agonía
109. the soles of her feet – las plantas de sus pies
110. eventually - finalmente
111. transformed into – se transformaron en
112. hardened – endurecido, endureció
113. callouses - callos
114. in addition - además
115. whether – ya sea
116. to wear out – gastar, to use completely. For example, if you “wear” clothes for a very long time, you can use them up completely or “wear them out”.
117. to fit well – to be the right size, shape, etc. – encajar o caber o quedar bien
118. to go through – pasar por, atravesar
119. “this” refers to going “through three different packs in total.”
120. actually – en realidad, NOT "currently" (NO actualmente)
121. to turn out into – se convirtió en. “to turn into” means to transform into” or “become” (convertirse en). “to turn out” means to result in” (resultar en). “to turn out into” is a combination of the two phrases.
122. good-Samaritan stories – cuentos del buen samaritano
123. upon arriving – a la llegada
124. a food pick-up – un punto de recogida de comida
125. Idyllwild – (place)
126. a saint of a man – un santo
127. in all his selflessness – “selflessness” means “altruism” (desinterés). “in all his” means “en toda su” as in “en toda su gloria”, which sounds a little religious or spirtitual. “selfless” means “desinteresado”.
128. to drive us down to just outside Los Angeles – “to drive us down” means “to take us south in his car”. “just” means “very near” (o “justo”). “outside” means “en las afueras de”.
129. in order for me to buy – “in order for” means “para que”, so in order for me to buy” means “para que yo comprara”. “in order to avoid” means “para evitar”.
130. good-hearted people – gente de buen corazón
131. who we met along the way – que conocimos a lo largo del camino
132. faith - fé
133. mankind – humanidad
134. a sure-fire way – sure-fire is a colloquial intensifier and means “una forma infalible, segurísima”
135. revive - reavivar
136. humanity – la humanidad
137. a character – un personaje
138. fellow – tipo, hombre
139. per se – en sí (latin)
140. rather – más bien
141. to provide people with provisions – para proporcionar provisiones a la gente
142. moral support – apoyo moral
143. good cheer – buen ánimo
144. apparently - aparentemente, al parecer
145. he had been doing – había estado haciendo (past perfect continuous)
146. fame - fama
147. amongst – entre – similar to “between”, but used with more than two things or people.
148. (it) could not have been overestimated – no podría haber sido sobreestimado (“could” + past perfect passive)
149. lack – carecer
150. personalities - personalidades
151. worth – merecer (it’s worth + ing – i.e. it’s worth doing – merece la pena hacerlo)
152. to point out – call attention to something, señalar algo
153. we felt quite removed from civilization – nos sentimos bastante separados de la civilización.
154. unlike – a diferencia de
155. The Appalachian Trail - a long trail on the East Coast of the United States
156. rugged - escarpado
157. isolated stretch – extensión aislada
158. you are left to your own thoughts – te quedas con tus propios pensamientos
159. for days at a time – durante días y días (o días enteros)
(a la vez)
160. solitude – soledad (“solitude” is not negative, but spiritual. “loneliness” is negative and is also translated as “soledad”.)
161. to develop – desarrollar
162. wide-ranging variety – amplia variedad. “wide ranging” means “una gran variedad” o “amplia gama”.
163. inhabit - habitar
164. the Earth. – la tierra (the name of the planet is capitalized)
165. accompanied by
– acompañado por
166. a tree-identification book – un libro de identificación de árboles
167. as we moved
– mientras caminábamos (nos movíamos)
– hacia el norte
169. I would take time
– “would” is similar to “used to” (solía), but with a focus on the repetition of the activity in the past. “I would take time” means “solía tomarme tiempo”.
170. Yosemite Park
– enormous, gigantic
172. Giant Sequoia
173. What a +adjective +noun . . . !
- “what a big house” means “qué casa más grande”. Expression used for emphasis.
174. indescribable presence
– presencia indescriptible
175. however – sin embargo
176. before + “-ing” (doing / seeing / going) – antes de hacer, antes de ver, antes de ir.
177. before skipping too far forward, to skip ahead – antes de saltar demasiado hacia delante – “to skip” means “to jump” a little. In this context, “to skip ahead” means “to eliminate” or “go around, over or beyond” part of the trail. “to skip ahead” means “adelantar”.
178. too + adjective (too big, too far, too poor) – demasiado grande, lejos, pobre.
179. far - lejos
180. forward – hacia delante
181. I must do – debo hacer
182. mention – mencionar. “not to mention” means “por no mencionar”
183. since – puesto que, como
184. El Niño - the name of a weather phenomenon
185. weather patterns – patrones del tiempo
186. specifically - concretamente
187. proved to be – resultó ser
188. a factor – un factor
189. to deal with – tratar con
190. the elements – los elementos
191. at times – a veces
192. I even spent, I even came across – incluso pasé, incluso me crucé con
193. at a time – de una vez, seguidas
194. path - camino
195. to such large degrees – a tales extremos. “to such” means “a tal”. “to a degree” means “hasta cierto punto”.
196. to avoid + “ing” (spending, doing, seeing) – evitar pasar, hacer, ver
197. literally - literalmente
198. North-Pole-like conditions – condiciones como las del Polo Norte
199. what we did was . . . lo que hicimos fue
200. jump ahead – adelantar, similar to “skip ahead”. In this context, “to jump ahead” means “to eliminate” or “go around, over or beyond” part of the trail.
201. Mount Shasta - a mountain in California
There's a photo in the text above.
202. Mount Lassen - a mountain in California
204. the whole trail – todo el camino
205. the weather conditions hadn’t changed much – las condiciones del tiempo no habían cambiado mucho (past perfect)
206. we were forced to + infinitive (to trek, to walk, to drive) – nos vimos obligados a andar, conducir
207. to trek – “to trek” means “to hike” or “to walk”. (see backpack)
208. that had fallen – que habían caído
209. thus – así, de este modo
210. something prevented us from easily navigating northward – algo nos impidió guiarnos con facilidad hacia el norte
211. dicey – risky, dangerous
212. we had lost our way – nos habíamos perdido
213. capable companions – compañeros competentes
214. to figure out how to do something – averiguar como hacer algo
215. stop off point – punto de parada (donde recoger más comida).
216. to come across – encontrarse con
217. to stop to play the guitar – parar para tocar la guitarra. “to stop playing” means “parar de tocar”.
218. to play us a song – tocarnos una canción
219. a tune – una canción
220. to tote – to carry (llevar)
221. perhaps – maybe (quizás)
222. notable - destacado, worthy of note or notice; remarkable.
223. unfortunate - desafortunado
224. mishap – percance, contratiempo
225. to get caught up in something / get tangled up in something – engancharse / enredarse en algo
226. Poison Oak - zumaque venenoso, roble venenoso
227. nasty – asqueroso, desagradable
228. itch - picar
229. ooze - supurar
230. fiasco - fiasco
231. to head up – dirigirse hacia al norte
232. we had had enough of something – habiámos tenido bastante
233. such conditions – tales condiciones
234. portion – porción, parte
235. was going to be a change – fuera a ser un cambio (future in the past)
236. while we ended up finding - aunque acabamos encontrando. (“while” means “aunque” in this context, NOT “mientras” – this is a rarer usage of while)
237. occasional – esporádico
238. patches of snow – areás de nieve
239. relieved (relief) – aliviado (alivio)
240. navigable - navegable
241. I may be biased – puede que no sea objetivo
242. The Washington Cascades
- The part of The Cascade Mountains which is in Washington State.
243. above all – sobre todo
244. fond memories – recuerdos entrañables
245. The Paysaten Wilderness - nombre de un bosque
246. glacier lakes – lagos glaciares
247. vanish - desaparecer
248. ridge – cresta de una montaña
249. lush - exuberante
250. meadow – pradera, prado. “a ridge bordering lush meadows” means “una cresta montañosa que bordea unas praderas exuberantes”. See photo on right.
251. wild flowers – flores silvestres
252. to overlook a neighboring panorama – con vista al panorama vecino
253. neighboring – de al lado, vecino
254. snow-capped mountains - montañas de cumbres nevadas
255. far-below – muy por debajo (lejos)
256. valley - valle
257. to wind up + ing (doing, going, working, etc.) – acabar haciendo, yendo, trabajando
258. approximately – aproximadamente
259. when you’re done – cuando acabas
260. to look back – mirar atrás
261. hard to + infinitive (to believe, to do, etc.) – dificil (creer, hacer, etc.)
262. believe - creer
263. they ever happened – alguna vez ocurrieron
264. majestic - majestuosos
265. solemn - solemne
266. corn pasta – pasta made with corn flour and not wheat flour (harina de maiz, no de trigo)
267. lifetime – vida (synonym of “life” – an entire lifetime and an entire life mean the same)
268. cross its path – cruzar en su camino
Practice the vocabulary:
Crossword #1 PDF
Crossword #2 PDF
Crossword #3 PDF
Crossword #4 PDF
Crossword #5 PDF
Kelley Pigott (Enero 29, 2019)
Profesor de inglés en Madrid. Zona: Madrid centro.
A partir de 30 euros/hora, dependiendo de qué tipo de clase sea y donde se daría.
Soy de los EEUU y un enamorado de Madrid y me dedico a la enseñanza por vocación. Tengo un Máster en Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MATESOL), soy licenciado en Comunicación y poseo más de 12 años de experiencia dando clases comunicativas en varias empresas, universidades y también a particulares. Soy innovador y creativo e incorporo día a día entretenidas herramientas pedagógicas en clase. Además de clases generales, imparto cursos específicos como monográficos de TOEFL, First, Cambridge Advanced y IELTS, preparando a mis estudiantes de forma eficaz a alcanzar una alta puntuación y también ayudo a ejecutivos que necesitan mejorar su habilidad de hablar en público. Estoy disponible para ayudarte sean cuales sean tus metas.
Por favor, si me mandas un e-mail incluye tu nivel, tu disponibilidad, el horario, donde tendrían lugar las clases y el número de horas que te gustaría recibir.