Monday, Aug. 18, 1997 | 9:35 a.m.
The two-week, 150-mile backpack trip from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite National Park is a tribute to Jane and Flicka Rodman of Worcester, who were run down by a car in the Mojave Desert near the end of their 2,600-mile hike through the mountains of California, Oregon and Washington.
Leading the contingent of 21 backpackers out of Echo Summit on Sunday were Flicka's mother, Barbara Perry of Elephant Butte, N.M., and Jane's father, Dr. Frank Gatti of Amherst, Mass. Friends of the late 30-year-old adventurers also are taking part.
"I'm excited and nervous. My pack is heavier than I thought it would be," said Perry, a management consultant who hasn't backpacked in 25 years. "The most thrilling part is to know their feet were there."
"I hope to come away with some sort of understanding of the experience they had on the PCT," added Gatti, a child psychiatrist who has never backpacked. "I want to see the wilderness and same mountains they did."
The hikers will average about 11 miles of hiking a day and camp at some of the same sites where the Rodmans camped. They'll read from Flicka's trail journal in an attempt to see the section through his eyes.
The memorial hike, which will end Aug. 30 at Tuolumne Meadows, also is designed to raise support for one of the nation's premier hiking trails. The PCT traverses the mountains of California, Oregon and Washington between Mexico and Canada.
The Jane and Flicka Endowment Fund was established as a memorial to further the work of the Sacramento-based PCT Association, which assists the federal government in the trail's management.
The Rodmans were struck and killed by a car in November 1995 while walking along Highway 138 near Palmdale, less than 400 miles from their goal of the Mexican border.
The couple, who began their PCT trek at the Canadian border in July 1995, reluctantly used the Southern California highway as a brief detour in an effort to catch up with fellow hikers and make it home by Christmas.
The tragedy was the worst in the PCT's 29-year history.