I went trolling for interesting candidates to follow for this hiking season. I was hoping to find some Bay Area types who are doing the trail this year (I did, but I’ll get back to that) but one journal stopped me in my tracks. It belongs to Paul Sandall, whose daughter, Emily Sandall, died on Half Dome at Yosemite on Nov. 8, 2006 (my birthday, no less). From Paul’s first entry:

Years ago I bought Ray Jardine’s book, The Pacific Crest Trail Hiker’s Handbook (2nd edition, 1996). It sat on the bookshelf and my oldest daughter, Emily, borrowed it. She was working at Voyager Outward Bound in Red Lodge, MT, at the time, otherwise living in Missoula, MT. She wanted to hike it someday with a friend, preferably male, certainly not her father. But, yes, I had always, or at least since 1996 or so, been intrigued with the trail myself.

I come to the trail now, out of need, out of hope, looking for some measure of healing, some measure of community with people like Emily, looking for strength, wisdom, but mostly hope.

You see, Emily died in a hiking accident in Yosemite, November, 2006 at the age of 25 and our world has since been turned asunder. So the trail is a thread on which to start mending the rip, or perhaps find some temporary patch.

I hike to honor my daughter, to do something she was not able to do herself, to look for her spirit in the wilderness, to hear her joyful laugh in the wind, to meet her again.

Paul is of retirement age so he’s packing in the work and planning to head up from Campo in early May. His family has set up a foundation for Emily, who sounds like one of those people the outdoors universe could least afford to lose. So, good luck, Paul. This online discussion thread has more on Emily’s accident.

As to local folks, David and Cindy Peters are gearing up for the big walk. Jeff Singewald, Elevator from ’06, is their transcriber. If you know of anybody other locals planning a through-hike, let me know.