Rebuilding a Monument to Hikers
June 25th, 2017 by Mike Teegarden

Above, Pacific Crest Trail volunteer Mike Lewis of Anza, California, stands in the barn where he sharpens one of the tools of his trade. He built the marker for the southern terminus of the PCT, which is on the California-Mexico border. Below, Mike, seated, poses with the crew that installed the new marker in 2016.

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is a bucket-list activity for long-distance hikers.

Since January 2016, visitors to the southern terminus of the PCT have been greeted by a new monument marking the trailhead. Pacific Crest Trail Association volunteer Mike Lewis of Anza, California, built the marker in his garage. He modeled it after the original monument installed in 1988.

The long and scenic path stretches 2,650 miles, from the U.S. border with Mexico to the U.S. border with Canada. It is a grueling adventure along the Sierra-Nevada and Cascade Mountain ranges.

The monument project began in mid-2015 when PCTA Southern California Regional Representative Anitra Kass asked Mike if he could get the job done by the first of the year. After more than 25 years of exposure to the harsh Southern California climate, the original marker—made of five 12-by-12 fir timbers—was falling apart.

A carpenter by trade, Mike had the skills, tools and patience to handle the task.

“I like doing that kind of stuff,” Mike says. “I love working on the trail. I like doing things that are out of the ordinary.”

Mike found detailed drawings of the original design in a museum and used them to recreate the same look. He made several trips to the marker—a 200-mile round trip from his home.

“I wanted to duplicate the original design,” says Mike. “I hand-built a jig for doing the lettering.”

That attention to detail continued with the marker placement. Most hikers begin their trek early in the morning, so Mike adjusted the angle of the marker so hikers posing for photos would have the best possible light and background.

Now that the project is done, there is talk of Mike building a new marker for the northern terminus. But he hopes he never has to replace the southern monument again.

“I have started a yearly maintenance program,” he says. “I’ve decided once a year I’m gonna go down there, fill the cracks and re-stain the top. The problem is the tops take a lot of abuse. People stand on them, sit on them, get their pictures taken.”

This isn’t Mike’s first volunteer project for PCTA. For the past 10 years, he has been a regular on the trail, much of the time hauling equipment to work sites with his pack mules through his work with the Trail Gorillas. Those days are sometimes 16 hours long.

To honor Mike for his work on the monument and the trail, PCTA awarded him the Alice Krueper Award in 2015.