Pacific Crest Trail
our thru-hike experience is with the John Muir Trail and Camino de Santiago, but
we section hiked the PCT - completing it in Sept 2010.
My definition of long distance hiking is hiking
trips that are three or more weeks. The amount of preparation, and the
mindset seems to change around that point. We covered the John Muir
Trail and the Camino de Santiago on other pages of this site. On this page we have
the Pacific Crest Trail and some tips we
have learned along the way.
Runs for 2660 miles
from Mexico to 12 kilometers inside the Canadian border. This is a national
scenic trail. Roughly 300 people start it each year, and about 60% complete
Pacific Crest Trail Association
maintains a web site that is the primary source of information about the
trail. They have a store on the website that carries the most important
PCT Frequently Asked Questions
If you are in a hurry, just check our
PCT FAQ list then come back here for details.
you are going more than 500 miles on the PCT, a permit for the trip can be
gotten directly from the association above, including the Mt. Whitney access
permit is more of a problem as there is no standard procedure. So far we
have gotten one from the 1st area we enter, and the later areas honor it.
Call the areas you are going to enter weeks in advance, and try to get a
permit by mail or fax.
If you are planning on PCT section hiking thru the Desolation Wilderness (near Lake Tahoe), be sure to call the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit's permit line directly at 530 543-2694 to get a wilderness permit, rather than the normal Desolation Wilderness permit process . They'll waive the usual reservation fees, let you jump the line in front of the April "opening day" of permit season, and the permit you are issued will be different in one significant way: It allows you to camp in Desolation on the PCT without having to go through the LTBMU's zone system for overnight use. Thanks to David P. from PCT-L for the info.
For useful planning maps, get the
official Forest Service maps, at 1" to the mile.
www.pcta.org has some of them,
but to get all that are available, go directly to the
store site , select Purchase Your Maps Now, then select Specialty Maps.
Browse thru those maps, and select the ones you want. These are beautiful,
sturdy but heavy maps. You might not want to carry them, but very good for
planning. They aren't all together - you can search for ca-60, ca-61, ca-68,
I use National Geographic Topo State
to print the maps I carry with me. I also carry a gps which I turn
on a couple of times a day when I need an exact location. I display the gps
location using UTM coordinates instead of latitude longitude, because
everything is in 10ths and easy to estimate. This means that I have to print
my Topo maps with UTM grids. It is important to specify that you want your
grids at 1000 meter intervals, not miles, so you can easily estimate
distance between grids.
For the John Muir Trail segment, the
Tom Harrison JMT Map Pack
Get an excellent
free set of PCT topo maps for some of California that you print from the web
The PCT is marked in red. These are 1:50000 maps from TopoUSA. If you expect
a lot of wet weather I recommend
buying the map paper from REI and printing on both sides of the paper.
Otherwise normal printer paper printed on both sides works fine.
If you have a recent Garmin GPS, they have released a complete PCT
download/cd with complete 1:24000 topo maps. See
Garmin download site.
If you have National Geographic Topo Software, they had the PCT route thru
California in their mapXchange, but that service has disappeared as they
migrate routes to their new Explorer product. I've temporarily put my copy
of their original California PCT as of 2006 route here.
Here is my Oregon 2008 topo route and
my Washington 2010 route. No
guarantees, but they are what I walked or am walking with.
For those of you using the above Topo PCT route from mapxchange, there are two
places in Calif. section D where the route doesn't match the guidebook map.
One is on Map E3 of guidebook where trail goes thru Bear Spring, and topo
route shows it thru Big Oak Spring. The other is on Maps E9 and E10. Just
after the sag pond (3810-0.6) the guide book route turns north while the
Topo route continues a couple miles east before turning north. In both
cases, the Topo route is wrong.
Water Reports: A Critical PCT Resource: http://www.pctwater.com/. A
table with line for each water source, box for comments and date reported.
People support it by sending updates. Still going strong in 2013. Just
covers Southern California. Created by AsABat and carried on in his memory..
the desert sections the general rule is to carry 2 gallons per person per
day. Another guideline for water consumed is by miles per liter: 4 mpl
normal weather, 3 mpl hot weather. Cook your meals at a water source if
possible, even if it means main meal at midday so that you only have to
carry enough water to support your hiking. If it is very hot, start about
5am, hike till 10, take a break till 3pm and hike till 6 or 7pm. To carry
water, four 2L soda bottles or two
or platy bags are commonly
used. We find a meal for two takes 1.5 liters.
Some people use a rule of drink a liter carry a liter. We have tried this
and it works fairly well. You can drink an entire liter at a water source,
though it might take you 5 minutes or so. That will carry you 3 to 5 miles,
and the liter you carry will take you another 3 to 5 miles. If that gets you to
the next water source you have a plan that works. If you do this, carry a
pump or steripen, as treated water needs 4 hours to kill everything.
Doing a spreadsheet with a row for every mileage point in the
Data Book is a critical part of our planning.
If you are a PCTer, you will have a number of fast deep
crossings requiring extreme caution. Evolution Creek is the deepest,
sometimes chest high at the normal crossing point, but not very fast. Others
are not as deep but fast and dangerous. Usually early morning is best - may
be 12 inches lower than late afternoon. Tyndall Creek, Bear Creek, south
fork of Kings River, Rush Creek, Kerrick Canyon (northern Yosemite) are some
of the others. Consensus from PCT-L forum is to use hiking poles or sticks
to get 4 points of contact, keep body facing the opposite shore, angle
upstream to keep the force of water from collapsing your knees, wear
synthetic fast drying clothes, take off long pants, unfasten waist belt. If
shoes and boots are already wet leave them on. Walk between rocks, not on
them. If wearing trail runners leave them on - some people take socks off.
During dry weather if you have to cross in your boots, remove socks and boot
liners, wipe out boots after crossing and reinsert liners. You will walk
dry quickly. You need something to protect your feet (I have gone barefoot
in midsummer and it is painful. I have carried lightweight kayak shoes for
camp and river crossing - better than bare feet. I don't want the weight
penalty of Tevas). With normal sierra weather you will dry as you walk
fairly soon. If chilly, put on fleece after crossing.
Note: Oregon and Washington also have dangerous watercrossings. Some of
these are glacier fed, and the volume may triple between 11 am and 2 pm, so
The best preventative I've
found by far is breathable first aid tape. Put it on hot spots before
something more serious starts. Johnson&Johnson makes 1/2 in and 3/4 in cloth
tape, but best product we found is Hartmann Omnifix in 2 inch by 10yd rolls
- enough to wrap entire ball of foot. Google for medco omnifix for the only
U.S. source I've found. Once you get a blister, Spenco 2nd Skin dressing
works, but it is bulky to carry, hard to find, and you may need a lot.
2003 Update - on grueling 8 day trip, got blister with new boots, used
Compeed to cover blister. Worked well. The Johnson & Johnson product sold
in US but licensed from Compeed is not the same as the original. Susan got
hot spot on ankle, used Spyroflex Skinsaver - no more problems. Better
not to get blisters - use preventative measures, socks off every stop, soak
in cold streams every chance, lots of tape. There are many ideas on foot
fixing - all in John Vonhof's Fixing Your Feet which we got before doing the
Camino. John's new edition (4th) is out and you can order from Amazon
However, a French pilgrim who had already walked hundreds of miles, told
us about taping, when she saw Susan's feet, and it worked.
Kenesio Tex tape - 1 inch and 2 inch widths. We just learned about this
stretchy breathable tape from
Vonhof's newsletter, and ordered some from KMS. It is similar to Omnifix above,
though we find it doesn't stick to skin as well - sticks to itself just fine.
My experience with
Asics Gel Nimbus is that after about 500 miles they have lost most of
their cushioning. My feet are fairly tough by then, so I still get another
couple of hundred miles. At 700 miles they are showing various signs of
physical failure - cracking in various spots, sometimes some delamination of
rubber from fabric, etc.
Gear: Weight is
critical. See our gear
page for packs, footwear, etc., see our
John Muir page
for detailed equipment list for JMT/PCT. Most thru-hikers use alcohol stoves,
packs in the 1 to 2 lb range, low topped well ventilated running shoes for
the desert. For couples a canister stove is more efficient.
If you use running shoes and have to travel over a lot of ice, screw shoes are a poor man's crampons. http://www.skyrunner.com/screwshoe.htm tells you how to put screws in your running shoes.
Some PCT hikers use instep crampons, others have found the
Kahtoola Microspikes From REI
to work better. We
finished the PCT in 2010, doing Washington in Aug - Sept. Just had
our trail runners.. There were a couple of snowfields where we would
have used crampons if we had them. For those conditions, I don't
think the microspikes would have had enough bite.
Kahtoola also makes a crampon that fits on trailrunners.
They are required in most of the Sierras. Yes, you
may get away without getting caught, either by a bear or a ranger,
but chances are that a bear is going to get your food, and
eventually get shot due to people not using canisters. More info on
canisters on our gear page.
has the largest and lightest/meal hard sided container. They have
special rental rates for PCT, JMT, etc. Call them for details:
https://id215.chi.us.securedata.net/~wild-ideas/rent.html . We
carry a couple of soft Ursacks for all areas of the PCT except the
JMT part. The Ursack keeps mice, etc out, as well as less educated
Re Resupply Boxes and Fuel:
It's best to buy at resupply point. Fuels can't be flown. US
Postal Service will allow butane/propane canisters and alcohol to be mailed
ground only provided they are packed and labeled properly. See Ken Power's
link on this:
http://www.gottawalk.com/shipping_fuel.htm . I mailed an unopened can of
alcohol to Mt. Laguna for our section A hike, properly packed - wrapped with
paper towels inside a ziplock inside a well padded box. Good thing I
followed the rules because it did leak - not a lot, but all the paper towels
were damp - nothing into outer box.
links in the ADZPCTKO link below. One of the links is a
ADZPCTKO - Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kickoff website:
http://pct77.org/adz/ If you want to go
to the kickoff this is the site. Usually the 3rd week in April, this is the
place to get the latest water reports, meet other PCTers, lightweight gear
vendors and start walking. This creates a glut of hikers, overwhelming trail
towns and trail angels, so if you can, make this a separate trip and start
your walk earlier or later.
Check their link for more info, as well
as transportation to Campo info:
Go to their directions to the Southern terminus
of the PCT at the border link, and you will see a very cool combination of a
video and topo map where a pie wedge of the topo map is outlined as the
corresponding part of the video moves by.
Kennedy Meadows General Store address change as of 2008:
Kennedy Meadows General Store
96740 Beach Meadow RD
Inyokern, CA 93527
Shuttle Hint for PCT section hikers:
When we did section A we parked in Warner Springs and a
trail angel drove us to Campo. When we did section B, our trail angel was
hiking, so we parked in Warner Springs in the school's little outer lot, and
when we reached interstate 10, called Enterprise Rentacar in Palm Springs.
The PCT comes out at Tamerack Road, which is in their pickup range. They
will drive up to about 12 miles to pickup someone who wants to rent a car.
They will also drive you back after the rental.
For a Mojave shuttle, the Days Inn no longer gives shuttles. Cell is good
at Cameron Rd, not at Oak Creek. There is a taxi service. Taxi:
661-600-2771 or 661-824-4242. Verify numbers ahead
of time, as numbers and businesses change. *** 4/24/09 *** there is now
another taxi service for the Mojave area:
He says he can carry 3 hikers with gear. The rate from the Tehachapi Willow
Springs or Cameron Rd to Mojave is $30.
There is a Mojave Tehachapi regional shuttle that can drop or pickup at
highway 58 trail head cameron exit. There are 8 buses per day weekdays
starting at 5:20 and ending at 19:20 that will drop off or pickup hikers at
the 58 trail head. You must call the bus dispatcher first to tell the driver
to detour and stop. Dispatcher's hours are mon-fri 7:30 to 16:30 call
661-862-8894 . Three buses on sat and two on Sunday. Fare $1.
In the Walker Pass area (SR-178) we have these untested numbers, and know
there is no Verizon cell reception. Maybe Att ok. Ridgecrest Taxis, (760) 793-7374,
Enterprise Car 760-384-2816, Avis 446-5556, Dollar 446-4554. You would have
to hitch east into InyoKern or Ridgecrest to get the car rentals. Enterprise
will drive up to 10 miles to pick you up.
There is an Eastern Sierra Shuttle service run by Bob Ennis that does trailheads from
Yosemite to Kennedy Meadows (south)
(760) 876-1915 Call during evenings. They gave us excellent service in May
Summary of Public Transit to Yosemite:
There was a post on Backpacking Light from John, who lives in
Yosemite valley. He uses public transit on a regular basis. To get to
Yosemite from the east coast, fly into San Francisco or Oakland than take
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to Richmond, there transfer to Amtrak, take it
to Merced. At Merced, take the Yosemite Area Regional Transit bus to
Yosemite valley. Coming back from Whitney Portal, there is regional
transit bus service on highway 395. Take it to Mammoth Lakes then YARTS back
to Yosemite valley. (ed. note: if you do
this be cautious at Richmond Bart. It is in a dangerous neighborhood. Don't
I monitor the Yahoo BackpackingLight
forum, as well as the PCT-L, AT-L and CDT-L forums. Backpacking
Light is very useful - a lot of good comments on gear. PCT-L has high activity,
some off topic, but usually
good info. AT-L has lots of activity, more than half of it off topic, so you
have to sift thru a lot if you get the daily digest. CDT-L low activity,
usually on topic. I recommend the BackpackingLight for all backpackers. If
you are planning to thru-hike or section hike one of the others, join the
appropriate listserv. (CDT is Continental Divide Trail). Also, Backpacker
Magazine's website www.backpacker.com,
click on community and there are a variety of good forums - the southwest
destination forum would include the southern PCT.
It can be very helpful to read daily journals of
thru-hikers. To get a sampling of these:
www.trailjournals.com an excellent place to follow current thru-hiker journals on
the PCT as well as all the other major trails. This website can also be reached
via www.trailforums.com .
The PCTA site doesn't point directly to them and there is no
search function. Thanks to AsaBat for this tip. In Google, enter:
where something is any normal Google search keyword/words
Temperature Change with Elevation:
If you carry a thermometer, it is sometimes
useful to estimate expected temperatures at higher elevations. There is a
normal temperature drop of 3.6° F for each 1000 feet increase in elevation.
i.e. if you are at 10,000 feet, the temperature is 40° F and it is raining,
expect snow at 13,000 feet.
Wind Speed Estimating:
You expect a range of weather on the pct, from snow to
triple digit temperatures. What some people do not expect is the possibility
of winds that you can knock you off your feet in the desert sections of
southern California. See
to estimate wind speed. A summary is that 40 mph takes concentration to
walk, above 70, almost impossible to walk.
If you have to have more reliable service than a cell phone,
check into Qualcomm 1600 satellite phone, which Outfitter Satellite sells
for about $350. This will cost you about $1.50 per minute for calls, but has
reception most places, weighs about a pound, battery lasts for weeks if you
only turn it on when you need to make a call. Note: this phone is for
Globalstar service, which is currently unreliable.
Comment from Patrick Reeves:
inmarsat now has a hand held satellite phone. INMARSAT has a fleet of
geostationary satellites that provide worldwide service. Expensive, but
should be quite reliable.
Also consider SPOT a satellite personal locator. Takes about 20 minutes to
get a gps fix. One button is checkin. Send Text msg to your friends with gps
location & google map link. Means you are ok. A help message sends similar
info, but says come get me. 911 sends msg to search & rescue. Has associated
rescue insurance. You can get one at
and sometimes get
it discounted on
USB Solar Charger: The Suntactics chargers have gotten some good reviews on Amazon for charging iPods, Pads, Phones and similar devices. The chargers do not have a built in battery. They need to be connected to your device. Charger in direct sun, but device should be shaded. Devices don't charge well if they are hot.
This is still evolving for us. We have been using some of
the Canon Digital Elph series as they are small, light and reliable. They do
not do as well in low light situations with no flash as some other brands,
but otherwise we are happy with them.
Susan decided that she wanted an ultra zoom point and shoot, so recently got
Nikon Coolpix P80 with 18x zoom. Canon doesn't have an equivalent. That
also has been a good purchase. I see that now they have a
P90 that is 24x.
Very recently, I read about the
Nikon P6000 point and shoot, which automatically tags the images with
GPS coordinates. That would be a very useful thing for us, but we can't fit
it into our budget at the moment.
Triple Crown Talk (PCT, CDT, AT) by the Powers:
Saw an excellent presentation (Dec. 2003) at Sunrise Mountain Sports in Livermore
by Ken & Marcia Powers on their triple crown trips. They are one
of the few couples to complete the triple crown (Pacific Crest Trail, Continental
Divide Trail, Appalachian Trail). The show was excellent -
good visuals and enthusiastic team presenters - both up front and giving a
coordinated talk. They started with the Pacific Crest Trail, northbound,
then did the Continental Divide Trail, northbound, and finally the
Appalachian Trail, northbound. I've checked out their website
www.gottawalk.com . It
has an excellent equipment list, item by item and ounce by ounce for each
person for each trail. Also a detailed food list. This is an
excellent resource and anyone planning to thru-hike any of these trails
should look at their website. Since their talk they have thru-hiked the
American Discovery Trail as well. Since then, they have walked the Arizona
Trail, and a substantial part of the PCT again. Follow them on: http://trailjournals.com/GottaWalk/
Pacific Crest Trail Talk: by Matt Geis
We went to our local
REI and heard Matt Geis talk and show
slides of his 2002 Pacific Crest Trail trip . If you ever get a chance to hear him, do so.
There are now water caches in the desert part of the PCT, where
PCT supporters put out gallon bottles of water for PCT
thru-hikers. He did hit a spot, where all containers
were dry, and he had to hike out to the nearest town to get water. The
convention on these caches is that you do not depend upon them. Carry enough
water to get you to the next guaranteed source. At a cache, drink your fill,
but only take more if essential for safety. When Susan and I did our 2005
section A and B hikes, we would use about two liters from a cache.
Two tips from his talk: Your feet expand. His went up
a size and a half over the course of the trip (back to normal now). He
was using low cut running/walking shoes and went thru I think six pairs
during the trip. Some PCTers bought all their shoes up front, and put
them in their resupply boxes, but were only able to wear the first pair. The
other tip is not to forget you own your equipment. Do not be afraid to
modify it to fit your needs. In his case, some cutting of his shoes
saved a lot of pain, and could have been done days earlier. This is
also something Ray Jardine suggests. Re blisters, foot problems, he had some
the first few weeks due to too many long days and not enough rest days, also
did not take boots and socks off at every break at first - did later. A
third tip - he said it was fairly easy to get sponsors for such things as
One of his highlights was the
Vermillion Resort, as was mine on
the John Muir Trail. They make a big thing out of the PCTers and JMTers that come thru.
1st beer and 1st night free.
Muir Trail Ranch is another resupply point slightly farther south of
Vermillion Resort, but they have guests that take priority over walk-ins, so
have a reservation if you want a meal and place to stay.
He talked about the experience of being on the trail,
and being back in the city after finishing the trip. What he said was like a
flashback to me. There is no such thing as post trail depression. What
happens is that you are on this high - you understand the stresses other
people are having with everyday life, but you can't be mad at anyone, its
been weeks or months just thinking about food, shelter and other hikers
along the trail. The feeling gradually wears off, but at the same
time, the memory of the more difficult parts of the trip start to fade, so
you have this great experience to draw on. (There are lot of times on the
trail when you think: Why am I doing this? This is NOT fun, but somehow the
good parts outweigh it.)
Pacific Crest Trail Slideshow by Scott Williamson:
We've seen this several times - at PCT kickoff as well as REI.
Absolutely stunning slides from his what - 9? PCT trips
including two yoyos. Not to be missed - still being shown in
REI locations in 2007. Also, check out Scott's website, a huge amount of information: http://www.pctthruhiker.com/
Kiwi Link: I got detoured
from checking my email for several hours when George Spearing - a New
Zealander - sent me a link to his PCT trip in the early 90s. An
entertaining and informative narrative. Check it out:
Classic Books for the PCT:
Ray Jardine's Trail
Life is a must for anyone thinking about doing the PCT.
The 3rd version of his classic lightweight backpacking book. The origin of the ultralight
philosophy - updates Beyond Backpacking
Ray Jardine's Beyond Backpacking
- the 2nd version of his classic lightweight backpacking book,
and has the essentials, even though Trail Life has additional
Ben Go's Pacific Crest Trail Data Book- distances, features, water sources, facilities on the PCT,
elevation profiles and resupply stations - Ben is Benedict for author
lookup purposes.This book is intended to be used with the two
below. A must. Use the current edition.
Jeff Schaffer, Thomas Winnett and others:
The Pacific Crest Trail:
Southern California A must read, cut out appropriate
sections, carry 1st one and rest go in the resupply boxes. A
Jeff Schaffer: The Pacific Crest Trail:
Northern California A must read, cut out appropriate
sections, carry 1st one and rest go in the resupply boxes. - this is a new book - March
2003. A must.
Jeff Schaffer, Andy Selters
The Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon & Washington New
edition as of 2004 - A must for the PCT hiker.
Yogi's PCT Handbook.
She has hiked the PCT at least 3 times and has put together a
very good 2 part handbook, the large pages
to be read ahead of time and small pages to be carried with
you. Further detail on water points, resupply, etc. You have
to order it from her - see her website
Eric the Black's 5 volume PCT Trail Atlas. This is a pocket
sized guide with color maps, utm coordinates, camping and
water locations. I have used it and prefer the greater detail
of the Wilderness Press guides, along with my own maps, but it
is a useful choice. Eric has also done a JMT Atlas.
Leslie Croot's Pacific Crest Trail Town
GuideThe guide to the 80+ towns and resupply points along the PCT
- getting somewhat dated.
George and Patricia Semb Day Hikes on the Pacific Crest
Trail: California - Good for planning resupply points -
lists access points to PCT.
George and Patricia Semb Day Hikes on the Pacific Crest
Trail: Oregon & Washington - Good for planning resupply
points - lists access points to PCT.
Relevant to PCT Hikers, but not
Laurence Gonzales's Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies
and Why. This should be mandatory reading for anyone
doing moderate risk activities, let alone thru-hikers,
backpackers, mountain climbers, etc. It certainly made me
rethink the things we do when backpacking. It makes
fascinating reading, but to summarize what I got out of it: Be
sure that what you are thinking of as many years of
experience, is not really many years of being very lucky.
Aaron Doss Sierra
Nevada The Range of Light Aaron is a 2006 pct hiker
that we crossed paths with for several days. He was constantly
taking photos, and now has come out with this absolutely
spectacular tabletop photo book. Its pricey and hard to get,
but worth it.
Karen Burger and Daniel Smith's
The Pacific Crest Trail: A Hiker's
Companion- route descriptions, day hikes, short backpacks, plant & animal
info, history. Don't know that I would carry this - maybe read first
and cut out what I wanted.
Jon Vonhof Fixing Your
Feet is the last word on foot care. He treats feet on
ultra marathons and will give you more than you ever wanted to
know on treating blisters and foot problems.
Elizabeth Horn - Sierra Nevada
Wildflowers . Descriptions and color
photos of many of the wild flowers you will see in the
Leonard Daughenbaugh - Sierra Crest Route. You know of the JMT, and probably Steve Roper's
High Route. This book describes a route closer yet to the
Sierra Crest, entirely off trail, no more than a mile off the
crest, and usually within a half mile of the crest. Almost all
text, most in description of mountaineering opportunities from
the route, so I expect that this will become a mountaineer's
Cheryl Strayed -
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. I A very popular personal account - good story of Cheryl's life experience. Quite a bit more in it than just the pct experience.
"No Way" Ray Echols - A Thru-Hiker's Heart - Tales of the Pacific Crest Trail.
I love reading PCT accounts, and this is no exception, but there are
very few that I would recommend to my non-hiking friends. This is
one of those. It is more like reading Edward Abbey than a hiker's
Barbara Egbert - Zero Days: The Real-Life Adventure of
Captain Bligh, Nellie Bly and 10-year- old Scrambler on the
Pacific Crest Trail - We met Scrambler and her family
at the kickoff, and enjoyed reading this tale
of her adventure by her journalist mother.
Since Matt's talk, Angela &
Duffy Ballard wrote A Blistered Kind of Love. This an
entertaining adventure read, not a how to, though it gives you
a good feel for what is needed. Read it before you go,
particularly if you are a couple.
Dan White -
The Cactus Eaters, How I Lost My Mind - And Almost Found
Myself - On The Pacific Crest Trail. This lighthearted
account, got a lot more prestigious reviews than anything else
I've seen on the PCT, and I was a little biased against it,
thinking the book professionals were attempting to anoint a
new Bill Bryson. I did enjoy it in spite of my attitude. It's
a little a la Bryson, but that's a good thing. I
actually like Bill Bryson. Also, Dan's walk was a few years
back, so I found it interesting comparing the differences over
just a few years
Diane Soini - Piper's Flight: A solo woman's journal on the Pacific Crest Trail. I haven't read Piper's account, but she is a respected member of the trail community and I am sure what she has to say is of value.
Diane Soini - Adventure and Magic. This is Diane's ebook of her journal on the PCT. Available from Lulu.
Another one Matt
Geis mentioned is Soul Sweat & Survival on the Pacific
Crest Trailby Bob Holtel. This is someone who did a solo run
over the PCT in the course of three summers.
Eleanor Guilford - One
Hundred Mile Summers: Hiking the Pacific Coast Trail from
Mexico to Canada Eleanor is the oldest woman I know to
have completed the pct (in 1989 at age of 71). Now (2008) at
age of 91 she is giving REI talks on the pct. When Eleanor did
the PCT, there were fewer thru-hikers, and a lot more
temporary sections. Just reading about trail conditions 18
years ago, will keep your attention.
George Spearing: Dances
With Marmots, A Pacific Crest Trail Adventure -
available in paperback or download. A lot of people have
enjoyed this. Check out all the reviews in Amazon.
Pacific Coast Trailway
was compiled by Clinton C Clark in 1945. This classic was
recently scanned by Daniel Craig Giffen and is available for
online viewing at
Go here to see all the Amazon
Pacific Crest Trail Books
Not directly PCT Related but of
interest to PCT Hikers
Elias Butler and Tom Myers -
Grand Obsession, Harvey Butchart and the Exploration of
Grand Canyon. Butchart was the first person to
thoroughly explore the Grand Canyon on foot, and the first
person to walk the length of the park below the rim. His tips
were what enabled Colin Fletcher to walk it in one season.
Also a story of hiking obsession, a story known to all long
distance hikers. In Nov 2008, this book won a National Outdoor
Book Award in the History/Biography category.
Fletcher - The Man Who Walked Through Time. The classic story
of Fletcher's walk through the Grand Canyon.
Lawton "Disco" Grinter - I Hike an entertaining collection of trail stories, mostly true by this Triple Crown hiker. Think Bill Bryson.
Unseen Hazards That Threaten
Hunters, Campers and Hikers - Jerry Genesio.
i.e. bacteria that can kill you while hiking in US.
Haven't read it, but plan to.
Gifts from the
Mountain, Simple Truths for Life's Complexities by
Eileen McDargh. Watercolors and wisdom drawn from
backpacking inspiration. Not just PCT. Hard to classify, but I highly
Peter Potterfield - Classic Hikes of the
World. A gorgeous book full of tempting hikes if the
PCT experience has infected you. Does not include the PCT but
has the JMT.
Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our
Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv.
Not on JMT, but a strong case for getting children out into
Spark Your Dream
by Candelaria & Herman Zapp. Not a PCT hiker story, or
even a walker's story, but an incredible long distance
adventure. Cande is from Argentina. They drove their 1928
Graham-Paige sedan from Argentina to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, having a child in
the process. We met this couple and their car while they were
selling their book outside of a local harvest festival in
2008. Still a young couple, they now have three children, are
expecting their fourth, and are planning to drive their car
Three Hundred Zeroes by
Dennis Blanchard. For those PCTers who are considering the
Appalachian Trail, this personal account gives you a good feel
for what to expect.
DVD/VHS on a PCT
Tell it on the Mountain - Tales from the Pacific Crest Trail
A full length theatre quality documentary, following six thru hikers along the entire PCT. Well worth seeing, even if you are not a thru hiker. Order from Amazon
Walking the West. A documentary of two people who walk the PCT - won
Best Documentary at the California Independent Film Festival,
also played at Ashland Film Festival. A realistic
account of the trials and tribulations of thru-hiking the PCT. You can only buy
it through the
Trail Association website, but the filmmakers website
has buy buttons that go directly to the PCT association site.
PCT 2005 DVD by Whistler & H of 2005 hikers
Another great free DVD, similar to
Weathercarrot's - mostly just music and images, but kept me
enthralled. Some great high sierra snow images.
WeatherCarrot's DVD of 2004 PCT hikers.
This is a truly inspirational DVD - just
images and music, the images contributed by some 70 2004
hikers. It was shown at the 2005 kickoff and is being
distributed free if you can find a copy. To me, it represents
all the good parts of a PCT thru hike. Look at some of the
following DVDs to get a more complete picture of a thru hike.
Walk by Scott
Herriott - a 2003 DVD documentary on Pacific Crest Trail
The off the wall approach to
telling this story quickly got me involved. There are a number
of video clips of segments of the trail, but the focus is on
where the hikers gather as they encounter the outside world -
the kickoff meeting, Kennedy Meadows, VVR, the pancake place
and others. Most of the time you are hearing them talk to each
other about hiking, feet, whatever. They have just hit a high
point on the trail so are upbeat and very animated. Maybe not
truly representative of the average mood of a thru-hiker, but
it makes a fascinating story. Any long distance hiker is going
to enjoy this video. Potential thru-hikers and curious non
hikers are going to be caught up by the enthusiasm. It can be
ordered thru Amazon
or directly from www.walkpct.com
Still Walking - by Scott Herriott - 2005 sequel
Food for the hiker's soul. This sequel even exceeds the
original, and covers the 2005 PCT hiking season. I highly
recommend it. Order from Amazon
or directly from
Even More Walking - by Scott Herriott - 2006
continuation of Scott's PCT walking series.
After viewing the first two of the series, I eagerly looked
forward to this one. I was not disappointed. If you have
thru-hiked or section hiked during these years, you will see
familiar faces, and if considering the PCT, you will get a
good flavor of it. Not yet on Amazon, but you can get directly
from www.walkpct.com .
Walked - by Scott Herriott aka Squatch - 2007, 2008
RESOULED on the Pacific Crest Trail - a DVD documentary on a
There was a good comment
about it in the Backpacking Light forum and it was shown at
the 2004 PCT kickoff. I just recently got a chance to see it (Sept. 2004). I loved this DVD. A very professional looking film and definitely worth seeing and adding to your video library. I especially liked the 3-D maps with the trail overlaid on them - made it easier to track their progress. John Oldford
started alone on 4/26 with his video camera but for the most
part traveled with several others. Good balance between trail
footage and hiker conversations. Some spectacular shots of the
Pacific NW snow caps. A great shot the trail zig zagging along
in Northern Washington on what looks like a knife edged crest.
I enjoyed the camp shots showing cooking, the gear, etc. Lame
hiker jokes made me smile - hint: banana first aid.
Ryan's PCT Class DVDs available for free downloading for
2003 thru 2007:
DVD on Sequoia-Kings Canyon backcountry experiences.
This is slightly off topic from PCT DVDs, but
relevant. Bob Kenan was a backcountry ranger in
Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park for 30 years. He has put
together a DVD of his experiences, including interviews with
other backcountry rangers, and some 50 interviews with
backpackers and PCT thru-hikers. I haven't seen it, but sounds
good. Order from his site at
Pacific Crest Trail Records and
I've collected these from various places.
Please email me if you have corrections, new candidates, etc.
at rbalcorn at gmail dot com.
Adam & Scott arrived at the Oregon/Washington
border on July 31st, 53 days, 8 hours, 41 minutes, 57 seconds
after departing from the southern terminus, and 10 days 14
hours 16 minutes 12 seconds after entering Oregon.
(author's note: Susan and I just went thru the section about
20-25 miles north of Cascade Locks, and saw Scott's signature
on a pair of faded blue levis, dated 8/1/09 along with dozens
of other signatures from 08 and 09.)
8/12/09 new record - Scott & Adam - 65 days 9 hours 58
min 47 seconds.
Adam Bradley and Scott
Williamson - 7/21/2009 - 42 days, 18 hours,
unsupported (this includes no riding in cars, as well
as no pre-arranged rendezvous with personal food deliveries,
etc. - just utilizing the available services and mail drops,
Age 75 Calvin Batchelder Per email from Meadow Ed: "Back in 96
my friend Calvin (Batch) did from Mex to Sierra City. In 97 he
came back out to redo the trail and actually rewalked up to
Kersarge Pass then jumped to Sierra City and made it to
Canada. He was 75!" also in Walking the West dvd
Age 78 Per pct-l post from Jim (Bigfoot) & MIna : "John Olley
aka JohnnyO, from Dunsmuir, who is 92 finished section hiking
the Pct in the early 90's and finished the AT in 1994. John
was the volunteer trail maintainer at Castle Crags state park
for about 15 yrs, quitting at 90 yrs old." http://mailman.backcountry.net/pipermail/pct-l/2007-August/009583.html
(My estimate for age is completed in 93, age 92 in 2007 makes
him 78 in 1993)
Bob Holtel is currently running the pct again and is is 79
(2010). Don't know yet if he finished.
Oldest woman to complete
80? "Listener" in progress in 2012 - no word on finishing
I think there have been some 70+ and maybe 80+ who thru-hiked it, but no
Oldest woman to
thru-hike the PCT
80? "Listener" was in progress in 2012, no word on finishing
Longest number of years to complete hiking the PCT
Mary Kwart aka Fireweed, 34 years.
Started in 1976, finished 9/14/10 at age 58.
Per email from Meadow Ed: "I ran into a feller
up to Stehikin back in 01 who was doing it on horse back,
Ralph Looney! It took him 49 years to complete it! I asked him
why he did not wait til 02 and make it 50 years! His answer
was Hell at my age i felt i should do it now , who knows what
another year will bring."
expected 29 years per pct-l email from barney rubble: " Keith who is known
as St Alfonzo, started section hiking in 1980. He has
completed everything north to Cascade Locks. He plans on doing
1/2 of Washington in 08, and the other 1/2 in 09. I have seen
him on the trail the last few years."
expected 44 years per pct-l email from Steel-Eye: "I began
hiking the OregonSkyline Trail in late July or early August of
1965, several years before it was incorporated with other
trails in California and Washington to form the PCT, and have
hiked portions of the PCT most years since. Substantial
portions were: Oregon thru-hike in '99, Cascade Locks to
Stevens Pass in '00, Stevens Pass to Manning in '02, and Campo
to Sierra City in '07. About 480 miles remain, but I'm only 65
so I should complete it in '08"
Oldest man section hiking
Chuck Ward (aka "Catalina Chuck") - 73 in Dec
2008 - A, C, F, G and part of H in 2008
- 74 in Dec 2009 - Calif B, D, H, I in 2009, Calif E, J, K, & L in 2010,
in Aug 2011 at age 75 completed Calif M & N
Ralph Alcorn 72 contender - 72 in May 2008 - Agua Dulce to
Cottonwood Pass, Ashland to Shelter Cove in 2008,- 73 in May 2009 - Shelter Cove (OR) to Panther Creek
Campground (WA) in 2009, Completed PCT in Sept 7, 2010.
Oldest woman section hiking
Susan Alcorn 67 in 2008 - Agua Dulce to
Cottonwood Pass, Ashland to Shelter Cove
- 68 in 2009, Shelter Cove to Panther Creek Campground. Completed PCT in
Oldest woman to have hiked a section of the PCT
80? "Listener" in 2012 seen near Crater Lake
Oldgal (Marge Prothman) 73 in April 2000
Section B , also something in 2005.
The Pacific Crest Trail exists mainly due to
the efforts of Clinton Clark and Warren Rogers, starting back
in the 1930s. The family of Warren Rogers has gathered the
early history together and built a website:
http://www.pct.com/ . It
makes for interesting reading.
Our Gear List for PCT or JMT:
The gear list is a google
spreadsheet. To get an xls file you can save, click on
- on the bottom right of the resulting google spreadsheet is an
edit button. Click that, and you will be able to view it in a
form that can be saved off to your hard drive as an xls file.
To follow some of the current PCT and other thru-hikers,
click on the following to go to
- also a good place to see detailed gear lists - an example is Ken and
Marsha's American Discovery Trail 2005 journal.
Backpacker Magazine Wisdom of the Week:
Their website www.backpacker.com
is an excellent resource - far beyond the normal retail outlet site.
Look in the community section and you can find useful forums that I check at
least weekly - broken out by topic. Several on regions such as
international, northwest, book reports, backpacking with kids, just for
women, etc.. The magazine is published by Rodale Press -
publisher of Organic Gardening, etc., and has strong environmental roots.
Six PCT hikers carried data recorders during their 04 and 05 through hikes.
You can look at temperatures for selected days, time of day, etc. Keep in
mind that these recorders may have been in a pack, or exposed to direct sun,
so don't represent average air temperatures. For example, that 126 F day
probably was inside a hot pack pocket. http://www.michaeljaylissner.com/pct-temperatures
4500 mile trail in North America - the ECT - Eastern
Continental Trail - Quebec to the Florida Keys - find more about it and the
Alabama segment in
Ray and Jenny Jardine have a lot of interests beyond
long distance hiking. Check
www.rayjardine.com for comments on ultralight hiking, among other
things. They run Adventure Lore Press, and you can probably get an
autographed copy of Beyond Backpacking from