In my previous post, I mentioned that I was thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2024. What is thru-hiking, and what is this Pacific Crest Trail? Glad you asked. I have those answers and probably many more answers to questions you haven’t thought about asking. You know, because I just dropped the PCT bomb on you.
But first, let’s go back, way, way back to when this first started. It isn’t like I woke up this morning and exclaimed, “I’m going to thru-hike the PCT!” Oh no, my dear reader. It certainly did not.
Back in 2016 …
On a gloomy autumn day (I think it was a gloomy day in Autumn), I was thinking about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail as a teenager in Boy Scouts.
I was supposed to be working, but my office was windowless, and the paint was a light grey. So, I guess every day was gloomy. As I was sitting there, my mind started to wander, as it does occasionally.
I started reminiscing about the sunshine hitting my face, the high alpine meadows, and hanging with some of my best buds. A separate but related thought hit me like a MACK truck traveling at highway speeds. My dad had told me as a young child (even before I actually hiked on the PCT with the Boy Scouts) that the trail spans over 2,650 miles, starting at the California-Mexico border, threads itself through the mountain ranges of California, through Oregon, and Washington then ends at the Washington-Canada border.
Another thought hit me just shortly after … This is 2016, I bet people journal about it! So, I quickly bought up Google and jumped into the rabbit hole of possibilities. It wasn’t long before I brought up dozens and dozens of journals, and soon, I realized this wasn’t novel. Hundreds and thousands of people hike the trail each year. I quickly realized that each year was called a “class,” so I searched for the current class’s journals. Since I had discovered this in the Fall, the hiking season was over. So I had to resort to reading the Journals of people who had started in the spring of 2016.
I quickly realized that blogging in 2016 wasn’t that fashionable. There were hardly any! I did find two blogs, and their authors actually kept up. So I eagerly read them. The first one, she was from Portland and was Queer. She ended up in uncomfortable situations (undisclosed and didn’t share) and got off the trail at Scissors Crossings (about 75 miles from the border). Needless to say, this blog was relatively short. I think it took me a few days to work my way through the posts.
The second blog was much longer, and they were also from Portland. I eagerly read each post throughout the upcoming days and weeks. At one point, they referenced “… Wired’s blog ...” which intrigued me. So I searched for Wired. The whole thru-hiking world exploded.
Wired was a machine. She had hiked all three famous long trails (PCT, CDT, AT) in the US and several more! I eagerly threw out the previous Blog (sorry, Authors!) and jumped into Wired’s PCT blog with both feet and a hot cup of terrible office coffee. I was enamored; I read each post with such an addiction that I was frightened. I. WAS. HOOKED.
a single thought entered my mind I want to thru-hike the PCT. I want to experience this, too!
Of course, I didn’t have any gear. I hadn’t backpacked for 15, maybe 20 years.
It was Spring by the time I finished Wired’s PCT blog. The Class of 2017 was starting, but it was hard to find current blogs to read. Wait. Read? Who writes anymore? There are videos on YouTube! So, off I went. Similar to my Google searches, this also yielded results. The top result was a channel named Homemade Wanderlust. That sounds cool, so I dove in again.
So, Dear Reader, it started with some blog posts, then some videos. And now … some gear. I collected the required gear as cheaply as I could. I had too many projects I attempted to do in the past, but shortly after starting, all the tools and materials just collected dust. I started small (maybe too small, figuratively).
I had a few pieces of old gear. I mean old. The stove was about 5 lbs of steel and aluminum, but it was a backpacking stove back in the day. I bought a pack from Costco for $50 and some other pieces of gear, and I hit the trail in June 2017 for a 2-night weekend trip.
I, of course, selected a “most difficult” hike because why not? Oh god. It was terrible. The pack was heavily loaded. For example, I carried a WHOLE pack of fire starters for two nights. I didn’t use them; they just came along for the ride. The kind that are like rectangle sticks that are used for car camping. Of course, my bomb-proof stove. It dug into me. It was also the hottest day of the year (yay me). My boots weren’t worn in and were too small. But I LOVED IT. Full-on Type 2 fun.
2020 was the year?
In 2020, I did a section hike over 100 miles. This was the hike that really solidified the thought of actually thru hiking the PCT. Of course, I’m unsure how to get the time off work AND pay my bills. But this is when the spark turned into a roaring flame. I had to do it. I had to try thru-hiking the PCT.
Outside of the COVID-19 Pandemic, a lot happened this year. I was laid off after working for the employer for 20 years; I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world, and I got a new job that is AWESOME and at an employer that does good in the world. Everything was falling into place …
Enough already. Tell me about the trail!
Ah yes, this post is getting long and barely touched on the burning questions you most likely have.
What is thru-hiking
Thru-hiking is akin to hiking w/ gear to camp overnight for multiple nights at a time. It is not backpacking. Backpacking affords the luxury of fewer miles per day; essentially, it’s HIKING + CAMPING = Backpacking.
Thru-hiking is HIKING w/ a pack.
What is the Pacific Crest Trail
It’s a National Scenic trail that spans the entire state of California, Oregon, and Washington.
How long is the trail?
2,650 miles. Give or take. It changes yearly, and with official closures, it can change within the hiking season.
The Pacific Crest Trail Association’s website has a lot more information on it.