Announcing the 2018 Photo Contest Winners

1st Place – Thru-rider on Knife’s Edge by Clare Major

The majestic Pacific Crest Trail through the Goat Rocks Wilderness provides the backdrop for this year’s top photograph in the Pacific Crest Trail Association’s annual photo contest. Photographer Clare Major titled the picture “Thru-rider on Knife’s Edge,” but the image also shows a backpacker on the trail.

“We get a lot of really beautiful photos of the Goat Rocks Wilderness in the contest, but this one is unique in that it combines the elements of three contest categories,” said lead judge David Thurber. “The photo is very well composed and not only illustrates the majesty of the PCT, but it also shows an equestrian and a backpacker sharing the trail (human spirit).”

The sizes of the equestrian and hiker were not lost on judge David Velasquez.

“It illustrates how small we really are in such a vast wilderness. Even so, we can have a huge impact on the preservation of the wilderness,” he said.

2nd Place – Sara by Jennifer Gift

Jennifer Gift is the second-place overall winner for a picture she titled “Sara.” The image captures sun filtering through trees with the rays focused on the PCT.

3rd Place – Butterflies on Hiking Pole by Larry Bettinger

Larry Bettinger captured a unique image of two colorful butterflies that landed on his hiking poles to win the third prize overall.


Contest Judges

In addition of Thurber, a retired commercial photographer, and Velasquez, a professional photographer and former high school photography teacher, the judges included Roger Gong, a professional photographer and Madelyn Serpa, who describes herself as an amateur photographer.

Lee Terkelsen, a retired photography teacher and former editor of the PCT Communicator, has coordinated the judging since the first contest in 1995.

“More than a thousand entries in this year’s contest made the judges’ decisions very difficult,” he said. “There were many great images that could have placed amongst the winners.”

Thank you

The PCTA wishes to thank our volunteer judges for their effort. It’s a gargantuan task to consider all your submissions. Special thanks to Lee Terkelsen for 23 years of volunteerism coordinating and judging this contest. Words cannot describe our appreciation, Lee.

Many thanks to our contest sponsor, LEKI. The company’s dedication to conservation and outdoor recreation is amazing. LEKI provided prize packages totaling $1,000 that are being awarded to the top three overall winners.

Finally, to all our photographers, thanks for your contributions. Your photos will be used in perpetuity to promote the PCT and the important work we all are doing at the PCTA to protect the trail.

Here is the complete list of winners in each category:


  1. First Place – $500 worth of LEKI gear — Thru-rider on Knife’s Edge by Clare Major
  2. Second Place – $300 worth of LEKI gear — Sara by Jennifer Gift
  3. Third Place — $200 worth of LEKI gear — Butterflies on Hiking Pole by Larry Bettinger


  1. Stars of the Sierra by Dustin Stensland
  2. Sierra Lake Reflection by Ellen Ballantine
  3. Mount Jefferson Framed by Abel Rojas

Honorable mentions:

Washington’s Beauty by Dustin Stensland

Fog on Grizzly Peak by Michael DeYoung

Ice Bridge South Fork Kings River by Martin Gatrost

Perspective by Ben Fullhart

Sunset at Hikertown by Ed Arnfield

Sunrise at Thousand Island Lake by Alexander Lee


  1. Mystical Atmosphere by Natascha Birnboeck
  2. Up and Over by Alex Brown
  3. Seasonal Stream by Cody Howell

Honorable mentions:

Trail Takes Its Toll by Patty Duffy

Volcanic Rocks by Chloe-Landes-michelli

Into the Night by Justin Helmkamp

Siestas by Jennifer Gift

Speechless by Florian Astor

Sunrise by Amanda Morten

The Survivor by Maria Geraldine Ignacio


  1. Leaf Spigot by Martin Gatrost
  2. Butterfly by Rosemary Garcia
  3. Curious Bear by Ed Lyons

Honorable mentions:

Skypilot by Clifton Reeder

Laura and the Lupines by Simon Prendergast

Dew on Fungus by Larry Bettinger

Trail Slug by Martin Gatrost

Comical Deer by Randy Godfrey

Deer at Sunset by Clifton Reeder

Anna’s Hummingbird by Molly Elwell


  1. Pack Train Passes Rae Lakes by Jennifer Johnson
  2. Home on the Range by Cindy Whitaker
  3. Saddle Break at Goat Rocks by Matthew Odierna

Honorable mentions:

Neighbors by Jennifer Gift

Horses by Rosemary Garcia

Packer Crosses Siberian Outpost by Marty Maine

No Left Turn by Jerry Heitzler


  1. After A Day of Trail Work by Dave Fleischman
  2. Spreading Rocks in Cispus Basin by Clare Major
  3. Giving Back by Maria Geraldine Ignacio

Honorable mentions:

Trail Crews Headed Back to Camp by Martin Gatrost

Shaping Your Journey by Cindy Whitaker

Logout Crew on the PCT by Mark Ainsworth

PCT Near Snowgrass Flats by Jeff Klay

Washington Trail Crew Workers by Michael DeYoung

Leaving a Trace by Anne Dios

Author: Mark Larabee

Mark Larabee is the PCTA's Advocacy Director. He is the former editor of the "PCT Communicator" magazine and co-author of "The Pacific Crest Trail: Exploring America's Wilderness Trail" published in 2016. Larabee is a journalist, part of a team who won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news for The Oregonian newspaper. He hiked the PCT across Oregon for a 2005 series for the paper and has been with PCTA since 2010. He lives in Portland.