In May 2018 I started hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. After a year of discussing the plan with my boss, I was finally approved for unpaid time off to jump on the PCT! I managed to complete the PCT in a little over 95 days. This is by all accounts “quick.” Many people that haven’t hiked the PCT, and even those that have, will often describe it as a magical experience. For me, I would prefer to call the PCT a very curious trail.
It typically takes most people around 150 days to finish the PCT, with the average thru-hiker taking around 20 zeroes (days where you do not hike). My hike consisted of two “full” zeroes, and a handful of half days.
My completed itinerary is available for perusal. It worked for me, but I was in pretty good hiking shape when I started. The number of minor (and less-minor) injuries I suffered on the trail were primarily affiliated with my feet, except for the 2-day period I was concerned for my Achilles.
Are you thinking about hiking the PCT?
Many people that are thinking about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail wonder about the gear to pack, and how many miles a hiker might hike in a day. The answer for both of these things is, “it depends.” Of course, the common hiker phrase of, “hike your own hike,” might be a little bit more accurate.
As a supporter of ultralight backpacking philosophy, I believe that the most important thing when it comes to backpacking is to actually enjoy the act of backpacking. For me, that means that I need to be pretty comfortable walking around all day with something strapped to my back. I don’t think anyone with 50 pounds of weight strapped to their back can actually say they enjoy the feeling? At my current pack weight, I really don’t mind wearing the pack!
My backpacking gear has gradually changed over time, but for the most part it is startling consistent with when I first started thru-hiking. My gear is comfortable, and I’ve weathered most conditions with it — including a sub-zero hail storm at the top of Mt. Whitney.
Did you find this page because you’re thinking about hiking the PCT and don’t know where to start? I’d recommend looking at my gear list below, and reading my thoughts after completing the PCT.
Isn’t backpacking all about the gear?
Everyone has different feelings about gear. In general, buy gear that will last you, and go backpacking with it — a lot. If you’re planning to do a lot of miles on your gear, then it’s worth spending more money for better gear upfront. The largest cost for backpacking, over the long-term, is going to be the food you buy.
I think my gear list can probably work for most people, with the exception of shoes. Figure out the shoes that work for you, and then hike with them. Even when you think you’ve figured it out, you will probably need to change them after 300, 500, or 1000 miles. I’m a huge Hoka fanboy right now.
Anyway, enough talk — check out these sexy pictures of mountains! =)
My PCT Slideshow/Photos can be downloaded from here (Note: ~800 MB)
ListServ Email Updates
Below is the subset of emails that I sent out to my listserv during my thru-hike to keep people updated on my status. This includes various thoughts about the trail, and provided a little bit of a glimpse into my life while out on the PCT. I refrained from mentioning most minor injuries, but reported when there were very clearly not injuries.
What did I take when hiking the PCT?
There were a few changes I made throughout the trail — primarily with shoe swapping. I also mailed microspikes to myself at Kennedy Meadows, and sent the bear can, microspikes, and my wind pants home at Emigrant Pass (Thanks Map Girl!). My wind pants were substituted for my Helium II rain pants, which I find to be far superior.