"If you read the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) journals as I do, sometimes you get interested in the folks who spend the time and effort to put together their reflections on the trail. When I enjoy a particular journal I like to send a quick note to the hiker letting them know that. One such person was Garey Meabon. Although fighting terminal cancer, Garey embarked on the PCT last summer with two younger companions. After reading his journal (via www.pcta.org) about the 200 miles he covered on the trail I sent my regards to Garey and inquired into his plans to resume the hike northward this summer. Sadly, I learned from his wife Zoe that Garey had passed away last November. Her message was heartfelt and reflected Garey's passion for the trail as well as the PCTA. It touched me so much I thought I would share it with you (with her permission):"_________
I'm Garey's wife, Zoe. I'm so happy you read Garey's journal and wrote to him. Sadly, he passed away November 13, 2000.
I can't tell you how much this hike meant to Garey. For the last year he was alive he planned, studied, lived and dreamed this hike. I truly believe it kept him alive longer than the doctors had diagnosed. He had every intention of returning to the trail this year, but it was not to be. My favorite part of his hike was the last three days he was out, near Sierra City. He spent the time completely alone, with nature. He made tapes for me every day and the feelings he expressed were awesome. After coming home, his health failing rapidly, he never stopped mentioning the freedom he felt on the trail.
People asked if I was upset with Garey for going on the hike and leaving me home knowing he didn't have much time left. The doctors had given Garey one year to live when he first found out he had cancer. I wanted him to sit in a chair and not move so he would be here forever. After the first year and so many adjustments, I would go to work and return home at night with him waiting for me to return. He had mentioned the hike before he was ill and how someday he would like to do something like that when he retired. I told him it would be wonderful if he could get out there and accomplish that.
After hearing that, he started looking up everything he could find on the computer about the PCTA. It became a driving force in his life. He was so alive and excited, there was no stopping him. He had every intention of completing the trail as he spent thousands of dollars and many hours buying and packing his equipment for the entire journey. I still have his re-supply boxes, unopened, that I was to mail him along the way. It's too painful right now to go through them so I have just put them aside for now. Garey was a wonderful man. He couldn't do anything about his cancer, so he used it to help others. We went to a support group for other cancer patients and they couldn't wait to see him every week to hear and be a part of his journey. It let them know that they too could live a dream and not give up just because of this dreadful disease. I could go on and on about this Man I love so much, but will end now.
Thank you so much for writing. It makes me love him even more to know he is still touching people even though not here. Do something you have always wanted to do but have been putting it off. Enjoy life and all it has to offer.
July 12, 2001 Jim & Ginny Owen responded to the above posting:
Thank you for sharing Zoe's letter. We met Garey (and Jonathan and Ryan) at Scissors Crossing last year, then ran into him again at Idyllwild after he had decided to get off the trail. We missed him by less than a day in Northern California and were very
disappointed. We were very struck by his excitement about what he was doing. He told us that he couldn't regret having attempted the trail, even though he wasn't able to go as far as he had hoped. He said, "You don't realize how lucky you are." That
line came back to us often during our hike. It has so many levels - lucky to be hiking the PCT, certainly, but more than that, lucky to be healthy and alive. We take so much for granted. Garey didn't. He couldn't. He knew how precious every moment
was, both on the trail, and in our lives. We are lucky to have the time, the health, and the desire to spend our days walking in beautiful places. We try not to forget that. Ginny and Jim