Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a continuous hiking trail stretching 2,650 miles between Mexico and Canada. I am going to walk the entire length in one continuous hike, a thru-hike. The trail runs from Campo, California near the Mexico border to the border of Washington and Manning Park, British Columbia.
Hikers usually average 5 months to complete the hike from beginning to end. This can vary by as much as a month or more in either direction. Variables like injury, illness, or just getting tired of walking every day can take their toll. Hope for the best and plan for the worst. Like most, I will hike northbound (NOBO), beginning in April and ending by September.
The PCT is divided into 5 major sections:
The Desert (Southern California)
The Sierra (Central California)
Nor Cal (Northern California)
According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) I will hike through 26 National Forests, 7 National Parks, 5 State Parks and 4 National Monuments. It’s called the Pacific CREST Trail because if you look at a topographical map of the route it more or less follows the highest elevation through the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountain ranges. The highest point on the trail is Forester Pass at 13,153 feet above sea level. Technically not on the trail, but a popular side hike, is to the summit of Mount Whitney. At 14,505 feet, it is the highest point in the contiguous United States. The lowest point on the trail is 140 feet at Cascade Locks, OR and the Columbia River.
The trail was first proposed by Margaret Montgomery in 1926. It was designated as a National Scenic Trail in 1968 but not completed until 1993.
Why would anyone want to live in a tent and sleep on the ground for 5 months?
The opposing question is why would you NOT want to hike through some of the most beautiful scenery you could ever see for 5 months?
Each individual on the PCT is going to have their own reason(s) for setting off on this adventure of a lifetime. After I had my first taste of backpacking on the John Muir Trail (JMT) in 2018, I got home and started thinking more and more about the PCT. I’ll spare the existential rant, but for me, setting off on a hike through California, Oregon and Washington for 5 months sounds like one of the most amazing experiences one could have. I’ll let you know how I feel when I’m done.
Now, I better get planning.