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 Post subject: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 1:43 pm 
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I'm planning on a thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail next year. The timeline is set for mid-May to the beginning of October. I would leave earlier then that but other things are already committed to. It's been very dry so far in the West so there should be minimal snowpack in the Sierras.
Daily mileage, food requirements, resupply points and the like I'm just starting to work on. My gear list is mostly squared away with a projected pack weight of 40lbs, mostly food and water weight. I may post that later on.
If anyone who has done this, major parts of it, something like it, etc. can chime in with some feedback I would love it.

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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 2:23 pm 
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No personal experience but I have been keeping tabs on this guy's blog. He has some excellent posts on UL gear and planning things out.

http://blackwoodspress.com/blog/


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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 2:56 pm 
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While I never did it, I know plenty of folks personally who thru hiked the AT. Here is an AT forum that also has sections for the PCT and CDT thru hiking.

http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/forum.p ... 622513e264

Also I'm freaking jealous. I can't even get time to do a John Muir trail hike for at least a few years. Good luck, and live that dream for the rest of us schlubs.


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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:24 pm 
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I've haven't (yet) completed a thru hike of the PCT, but I have hiked most of it, including the southern most 1/3 of it (Campo to Mt Whitney) multiple times. The challenges with a mid May start is the heat and (especially in a low snow year), the springs will be drying up, so you'll need to carry more water. Also, that short of a schedule means you'll need to average ~20 miles a day including rest days, so your actual daily mileage will need to be even more. Depending upon how strong of a hiker you are thats certainly doable, some people leaving Campo doing 30+ miles per day, but a lot more people end up knocking themselves off the trail by trying to go too fast too quickly before their body is ready for it.

That said, its a blast. There is something about living out of a backpack for 4 or 5 months, ridding yourself of all the clutter of civilization and simplifying your life to the little bit you're willing carry on your back; where your only worries are where are you going to camp tonight and is there going to be ice cream at your next town stop. A lot of people find it very addictive.

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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:37 am 
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With this Western drought an early start is now crucial, that means the end of April at the latest. Unless there's a storm this spring the Sierras will be open for an early passing; drought and fires in SoCal are my big concern.
The hardest part up to this point has been transitioning from an expedition/INCH/BOB mindset (2 is 1, 1 is none) to a minimalist mindset (less is more). It is gratifying to see my pack weight consistently dropping, though.

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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:54 am 
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kvetch wrote:
With this Western drought an early start is now crucial, that means the end of April at the latest. Unless there's a storm this spring the Sierras will be open for an early passing; drought and fires in SoCal are my big concern.
The hardest part up to this point has been transitioning from an expedition/INCH/BOB mindset (2 is 1, 1 is none) to a minimalist mindset (less is more). It is gratifying to see my pack weight consistently dropping, though.


I have not thru hiked the PCT but know a lot of people who have, and worked trail maintenance on sections up in WA state. I prefer hiking in to a place setting up a base camp and exploring that area with day hikes out and around over the thru hike idea. PCT is a great trail though if you are doing a thru hike.

Make sure you don't cut a quality radio when slimming down your weight. As you mentioned there is a drought so fire is a very real possibility and you will want to be able to stay alerted of fires. And of course be vigilant with any fire you make.

Do not play it loose with your food, use a bear bag and do it proper.

A decent walking stick or trekking poles are a life saver. Young or old that little extra help adds up.

Don't camp right on the trail, set up a decent way back so not to have people walk through your camp.

Don't get too bogged down making time or miles, stop and enjoy the scenery often. I have heard too many mention they ended up nose to the ground and missed large sections of beautiful sights. It is better to not go as far but have enjoyed the journey

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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:34 am 
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This is one of the better PCT thru hike videos out there from a Triple Crown hiker. Not only entertaining, but it gives a decent idea of the various stages and gear used throughout. Also funny to note the extreme weight loss experienced during the trip. Keep us posted, man.



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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:08 pm 
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ineffableone wrote:
kvetch wrote:
With this Western drought an early start is now crucial, that means the end of April at the latest. Unless there's a storm this spring the Sierras will be open for an early passing; drought and fires in SoCal are my big concern.
The hardest part up to this point has been transitioning from an expedition/INCH/BOB mindset (2 is 1, 1 is none) to a minimalist mindset (less is more). It is gratifying to see my pack weight consistently dropping, though.


I have not thru hiked the PCT but know a lot of people who have, and worked trail maintenance on sections up in WA state. I prefer hiking in to a place setting up a base camp and exploring that area with day hikes out and around over the thru hike idea. PCT is a great trail though if you are doing a thru hike.

Make sure you don't cut a quality radio when slimming down your weight. As you mentioned there is a drought so fire is a very real possibility and you will want to be able to stay alerted of fires. And of course be vigilant with any fire you make.

Do not play it loose with your food, use a bear bag and do it proper.

A decent walking stick or trekking poles are a life saver. Young or old that little extra help adds up.

Don't camp right on the trail, set up a decent way back so not to have people walk through your camp.

Don't get too bogged down making time or miles, stop and enjoy the scenery often. I have heard too many mention they ended up nose to the ground and missed large sections of beautiful sights. It is better to not go as far but have enjoyed the journey


+1 on what ineffableone said about a radio, especially the PCT because of the wildfire issues. Even a cheap tiny AM/FM radio with headphones would be helpful. Granted you will get a lot of info from word of mouth, but its good to tune in every once in a while to a local station to get the news/weather/ reports of wildfires when you are alone.

Also bears are a big issue on the PCT. Certain sections and most national parks in the Sierra Nevada's require that you use an APPROVED Bear Canister. You can rent them, or you could buy your own before you get there, but Bear Canisters are heavy and a PITA. Otherwise like said earlier, learn how to hang your food.

http://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/ ... your-food/

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin ... uAJSeco6M8


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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:25 pm 
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kvetch wrote:
With this Western drought an early start is now crucial, that means the end of April at the latest. Unless there's a storm this spring the Sierras will be open for an early passing; drought and fires in SoCal are my big concern.
The hardest part up to this point has been transitioning from an expedition/INCH/BOB mindset (2 is 1, 1 is none) to a minimalist mindset (less is more). It is gratifying to see my pack weight consistently dropping, though.


Definitely, the lighter you get your pack, the happier you'll be. If I were to go out again (hmmm...) I would want my base weight below 15lbs, ideally less than 10.

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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:31 pm 
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Nice vid Boondock. If anyone has $36 to burn I highly recommend the walkumentarys "Wizards of the PCT" and "Embrace the Brutality" by Shane "Jester" O'Donnell.
Every spare moment I have is being spent prepping and studying. All my permits are in order, the maps should be on the way, resupply points are set, the boss has my severance date, etc. I'll post a gear list after this upcoming shopping spree, hopefully with a base weight of 15-20lbs.
We're finally getting a touch of winter on the West coast, so my departure time is staying flexible by up to 2 weeks at the end of April. No one can predict what's going to happen in the next few months, so let's keep our fingers crossed, shall we?
A radio, bear defenses and poles are non-negotiable.
No promises, but I'll try to post updates when I'm in town. I have plenty of extended social networks to call on for cheap lodgings and rides.

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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:38 pm 
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kvetch wrote:
Nice vid Boondock. If anyone has $36 to burn I highly recommend the walkumentarys "Wizards of the PCT" and "Embrace the Brutality" by Shane "Jester" O'Donnell.
Every spare moment I have is being spent prepping and studying. All my permits are in order, the maps should be on the way, resupply points are set, the boss has my severance date, etc. I'll post a gear list after this upcoming shopping spree, hopefully with a base weight of 15-20lbs.
We're finally getting a touch of winter on the West coast, so my departure time is staying flexible by up to 2 weeks at the end of April. No one can predict what's going to happen in the next few months, so let's keep our fingers crossed, shall we?
A radio, bear defenses and poles are non-negotiable.
No promises, but I'll try to post updates when I'm in town. I have plenty of extended social networks to call on for cheap lodgings and rides.


That is cool. Looks like everything is coming along. If you can definitely keep us posted.


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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 9:44 pm 
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May your journey be safe and your blisters rare.
I used to live on the Salmon River in Siskiyou county CA.
The PCT crosses the Salmon River/Etna Road.
Many a time I would pick up a hitch hiker who needed a ride down to Etna to pick up a resupply package.
The folks who seemed to be to the best were the ultra light hikers.
If I were to do the journey I would carry personal protection for both the bears and two legged varmints.
Look forward to your posting the video compilation of your journey.
And yes please carry a radio of some sort.
Siskiyou county is bone dry even with the recent rains and minimal snows.


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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:01 pm 
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Sorry I've waited till the last minute, but the last two weeks have been...busy. Working out 20 food drops, wrapping up every loose end and saying farewells; plus that wedding in Virginia that I just got back from yesterday. In a few hours though I have a date with the Southbound Greyhound for San Diego and as they say, when the ship sails all debts are paid.

All of my resupply drops:
Image

My pack, which ended up at a 27lb base weight (oh trust me, it'll get lighter):
Image

And all the crap that's in it:
Image

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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:18 pm 
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Looking good. Keep us posted. Best of luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:25 pm 
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From left to right: the pack with a custom bandana; food bag and soaking jar (with spoon), rain pants and water/wind jacket; gloves and spare torso layer.
Sleeping bag, Tyvek tarp with a pack cover on top; headnet; washcloth; water bladder and ultralight 2L water bottle (more will be added later as needed); primary footwear; electronics bag (weather/AM/FM radio, cell phone, cord, headlight); socks, polypros and beanie.
Foam pad; data pouch (maps, trail data, journal); FAK (gloves, safety pins, wound closure kit, Krazy Glue, ACE wrap, Ibuprofen, athletic tape, irrigation syringe, Band Aids, Q-tips, povadone iodine, tincture of benzoin, cortizone.); Water filter with dirty water bag and the cleaning kit; Tool kit (hiking pole tips, freezer bags, AAA/AA batteries, paracord, Sharpie); Beauty bag (tooth powder, mirror, toothbrush, floss, comb, needle, sunscreen, lip balm); Hiking clothes; secondary footwear; blinged out hat; hiking poles; half gloves.
In the pockets: lighter, mini light and whistle on a lanyard, compass/thermometer, wallet, shades, bandanna, multitool, watch, knife.
Not pictured: spade, camera, hand sanitizer, trauma bandage.
That bear can at the far end of the first pic has some stuff that will catch up to me when starting the Sierras: bear can (obviously) with more cordage for hanging, bear spray, alcohol stove, fuel bottle and some more layers.

Base weight: 27lbs. Food weight: 7lbs. Starting water weight: 2 gallons (it's the freaking desert!). Total starting weight: 51lbs. Total end weight goal: 30lbs.

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Last edited by kvetch on Wed Apr 16, 2014 1:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:47 pm 
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A prepper will say "Oh my, you have so little! How will you survive without your combination fishing pole/field mortar?" A hard core thru hiker will say "Really? You think you need THAT?!"
Trying to straddle that line may prove difficult. Or it may not, I don't know yet. I have studied my ass off for the last 5 months trying to make this leaning curve as shallow as possible. Now that everything that can be done has been done, I'm not worrying about it.
Before this is over, I will know how to bugout in just about any season, anywhere; eat things that would make a billy goat puke; not be stopped by pain, weather, terrain or lack of gear; and know a freedom that few these days ever imagine.
Wish me luck, say a prayer and if you see a pilgrim on the trail, be kind because it might be me.
-PCT hiker Doublecross

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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:52 pm 
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kvetch wrote:
Trying to straddle that line may prove difficult.

It is but not impossible. You'll probably get some good feedback soon.


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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 1:11 pm 
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At least you'll some nice weather for starting your hike. That first day's climb up from Houser creek can be a real bastard on a hot afternoon. It seems like every year at least one person has to be medivac'd out of there due to heat exhaustion.

I expect one of the thing you'll find by the time you get to Kennedy Meadows, is just how little you actually need to survive...

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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:03 pm 
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kvetch wrote:
Base weight: 27lbs. Food weight: 7lbs. Starting water weight: 2 gallons (it's the freaking desert!). Total starting weight: 51lbs. Total end weight goal: 30lbs.

Gads, man. I'm looking over your kit again, trying to figure out why it's so heavy. Hard to tell without a detailed breakdown, especially info about the weight of the pack, sleeping bag, etc.

When you begin to trim or swap gear to shave the weight, I suggest aiming for:

Clothing/shoes (worn and packed): 8 pounds
Cook system: 2 pounds
Hydration/filter/purification: 1-2 pounds
Sleeping/shelter: 5-6 pounds
First aid: 1 pound
Misc. gear: 2-3 pounds
Max total skin-out weight: Roughly 20-25 pounds

That leaves 10 pounds for consumables (food/fuel/water).

Glancing at the inventory, I see a lot of dinky stuff that's killing you. Such as, adhesive tape and trauma bandage. And items like rain pants and polypros might not be needed until you clear the desert. Might just be an issue of logistics and needing to rely more on your mail drops.

I dunno. I'll be interested to read what some of the more experienced backpackers suggest. I don't recommend stepping off with more than 35 pounds total weight, though.


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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 1:58 pm 
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Yeah, it was a real bastard humping all that from Warner Springs at mile 109 down to the border for the PCT Kick Off event. I got my pack shaken down there and dropped my base weight to 20lbs, so things are a lot better now. I'd guess that fully loaded after a town stop and with 4L of water I'm at 35lbs.

I missed posting that first general update, so here's two for one.

4/27: Section A of the trail is officially in the bag. So far I have survived: an overnight bus ride; many gear changes; near heat exhaustion, a freak thunderstorm on an exposed ridgeline; many dry stealth campsites; a 4 day thru-hiker bash, 50mph winds on a 3000' cliffside; way too much pot and alcohol fueled young male bravado; lots and lots of switchbacks and the first hiker death of the season.
On the other hand I've also met more good and decent people then I would in a month back home; jaw dropping vistas; the desert in every mood; unlooked for trail magic everywhere and a peace that I haven't know in a long time.
I'm back at my starting place in Warner Springs (went South to the PCT Kick Off near the border, then hitched back up) and ready to start North. I have to step on the gas from here on out to keep my schedule and stay ahead of the pack. There are close to 2000 thru hikers out there this season and 300 just a week behind me. Half of them won't make it to the Sierras, but until then SoCal is going to be crowded.
My time is up here. Best to all and send a prayer.

5/6: I'm taking a couple of rest days in Big Bear Lake to recover from major chafing, blisters, raw patches, cracking, sprains, strains, sleep deprivation, calorie deprivation, general fatigue and other difficulties of the trail. Fortunately the worst is behind me, at least until I reach the Sierras.
In the meantime I've summited Mt. San Jacinto at night (2nd highest mountain in CA); got lost up the wrong canyon and spent all night and the next morning climbing out of it and down the other side of a mountain; met some very good people both on and off the trail; worn out both pairs of footwear I brought; dropped my base pack weight from 27 to 20 pounds; and have spent plenty of time appreciating how quiet the desert can be.
I'll be back on the trail tomorrow and headed North-West to skirt the L.A. basin, giving the finger to that bloated monster the entire way. Nearly 1/10 of the way to Canada!

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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 2:08 pm 
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Thanks for the update. Keep on keeping' on, man!


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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 5:08 pm 
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One month on the trail so far and my gear already looks like it's been to hell and back.
Since my last message I've gone through several footwear changes, resulting in a continuous blistering and general wear and tear process. Keens to Crocs and socks and now back to Keens again. I'm currently in Agua Dulche, resting up at the Saufleys' Hiker Haven for a few days. The horde seems to be gaining on me due to all these rest days, but there's nothing to be done for it. The first 250 miles of the trail were the hardest physically, but these last few days have been pure mental torture. Between unending pain, clouds of bugs, a heat wave, high winds, almost no water and bad trail, people are turned into hiking zombies.
Ok, the good parts. Hiking down pristine river canyons to a natural hot spring for a bath; stopping at night and hearing dead silence under a blazing sky; finding rooms in a $200 B&B in Wrightwood for $25/night; singing "Maria" on the top of Mt. Baden-Powell; movie night in a trailer home with the best dozen people on the trail and a bucket of ice cream; the biggest calzone I've ever seen; and old friends that I've just met. Most of us may hike alone, but we all share the same trail and we look out for each other.

I've gotten my base weight down to 15lbs, but somehow fully loaded I'm near to 50! 4L of water + BW is only 24, so logic suggests I must be carrying a crapton of food. Still working on that bit, but I have no idea when the Hiker Hunger is going to kick in or how much I'm going to be eating on any given day. Once I get past the Sierras I should have that dialed in and I can drop my total weight to a target of 35-40lbs. The good news is that I've only lost 5lbs so far, though my feet have swelled by 1.5 sizes.

The horde is now spread out over one week of distance, but it contains 50% of the season's total hikers. Trail infrastructure is taking a heavy beating and several cashes and Trail Angels have had to close down from overuse and abuse. I have to get through these waterless stretches in the Mohave quickly or everything is going to be drained dry. Only 250 miles of SoCal left...

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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 5:36 pm 
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Just remember, there are two types of thru-hikers. Those that stop at Casa da Luna, and those that wish they had. :)

When people ask me about the trail, I like to tell them it doesn't matter where you start, the first 500 miles (the first month) is the hardest, as you're breaking in your gear, breaking in your body... The next month should be a bit easier, although I found the stretch between Tehachapi/Mojave and Walker Pass pretty brutal.

My hiker hunger never really kicked in until Kennedy Meadows. Then I couldn't carry enough food and I think most thru's are pretty much constantly hungry from central cal north. Zombies have nothing on thru-hikers when comes to ever-present all consuming hunger :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Thru hiking the PCT
PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 6:29 pm 
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Hang in there, man.


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