POINT REYES, Calif. - A husband-and-wife team from California reached the Pacific Ocean after a 4,900-mile cross-country hike, becoming the first to backpack the transcontinental American Discovery Trail in one continuous hike.
Marcia and Ken Powers of Pleasanton, Calif., started the trek across 13 states on Feb. 27 from Cape Henlopen in Delaware. Nearly eight months later, the jubilant couple waded into the Pacific Ocean at Point Reyes.
"We feel great. We're done," Marcia Powers said after reaching the ocean late Saturday afternoon, a day ahead of schedule. "We are a little bit sad that a great adventure is over. It was a fantastic adventure. And now we go home and just do home stuff. It's really sad."
Marcia, who said she's in her 50s, and her 60-year-old husband traversed cities, desert, mountains and farmland before reaching the Pacific alone with arms around each other's backpacks.
They overcame deep snow in the East, a quicksand scare in Utah, close lightning strikes in the Midwest and blinding desert sandstorms in the West. They passed through Carson City at the end of Septermber. They averaged 22 miles a day, taking only four days off.
But they raved about the French history of St. Louis, the grandeur of the Colorado Rockies and the kindness of strangers they met along the way.
They particularly remember two brothers - a doctor and dentist - who put them up in their homes around Chester, Ill., after challenging days, and a motorcyclist who gave them water after they failed to find a water cache on Utah's lonely Wah Wah Desert.
"Americans are truly warm-hearted and wonderful people," Marcia Powers said. "We got to meet people that we would never meet in our sphere of daily living at home.
"We also got to see America up close. We got to touch it with our feet and hands and smell all its scents and hear its wildlife. It's an amazing country," she added.
Joyce and Pete Cottrell, of Whitefield, N.H., were the first to backpack the entire official route of the American Discovery Trail, but they hiked segments out of sequence over two calendar years, finishing in 2003.
The Powerses re-enacted the final stretch of the hike with friends and family Sunday afternoon at Point Reyes.
They had originally planned to complete the hike then, but said they decided to move up the finish because they had such a short distance to go.
The transcontinental trail starts in Delaware, meandering through Washington, D.C.; Cincinnati; St. Louis and other cities and 14 national parks and 16 national forests before hitting the Pacific at Point Reyes.
The trail officially opened in 2000 - 11 years after it was proposed by hiking enthusiasts as the first coast-to-coast footpath.