Trekking The Pacific Crest Trail with Gail Storey and Porter Storey, M.D.

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Gail Storey poetically describes how the wilderness sanded her down to stillness, “Even as my body wore down, my heart opened. Like the snow plant, bursting red through the forest floor. Because of the mountains, the blue space of sky, the softness of green on gray rocks splashed with lichens? Or back in the desert, when colors took the place of thoughts: blue-purple lupines, creamy white yucca, prickly poppy yellow? Now, pearlescent cool air soothed my forehead and my mind settled down.” As a couple, they headed off on a 2663-mile trek from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. Even though she was eating more than 6000 calories a day, at 5’7” she became a skeleton of barely 100 pounds, which deeply concerned her medical doctor husband. She was a talker, he, the silent type. How did they bridge their differences in temperaments and skills as they thirsted through deserts, forded icy rapids, stumbled through snow, and met up with a mountain lion? This lively dialogue reveals amazing highs and intense lows as every part of their physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual bodies were challenged by this grueling endeavor. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Gail Storey was formerly administrative director of the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. She is a writer, hoop dancer and comic performance artist. Porter Storey, M.D. has been a full time hospice physician since 1983. He is a national leader in hospice and palliative medicine. He continues to do hospital and clinic consults in palliative care for the Colorado Permanente Medical Group. In 2004, he was named the first executive vice-president of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine where he continues his efforts to insure that every severely ill patient has access to a physician, skilled in hospice and palliative medicine. Together they bicycled on their tandem from Maine to San Diego, and years later trekked the Pacific Crest Trail.

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Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What it was like to tandem bicycle from Maine to San Diego
  • How an indoors girl was transformed by the Pacific Coast Trail
  • What were the challenges of how two people with very different temperaments coped with each other on the trail
  • What it was like to come across “civilization” when one has been “on the trail” for weeks at a time
  • How Gail was initiated by a mountain lion on the trail
  • What they learned from a lost dog
  • How emotions are much more on the surface when faced with the deconstruction of the physical self
  • How Porter had the additional cultural burden of feeling the need to take care of Gail
  • How the code of trekkers is one of community and extreme generosity

Host: Justine Willis Toms     Interview Date: 10/2/2013     Program Number: 3483

Music Playlist

From Album: Journey Between
Artist: Baka Beyond
1998 Rycodisk – Hannibal #HNCD 1415

Opening Essay: Track 05 Cotu
Music Break 1: Track 04 Konti
Music Break 2: Track 06 Land's End
Music Break 3: Track 08 Queen of Ngorongoro