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
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
If you are section hiking then you must get a US Forest Service Campfire Permit, as well as wilderness permits appropriate for the sections you are hiking. For 2008 download, print and fill out this presigned permit:
The permit is good for any National Forest in California.
The wilderness 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 forest service 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, wa-15, wa-17.
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 is excellent.
Get an excellent free set of PCT topo maps for some of California that you print from the web from http://www.hikertrash.net/ 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.
http://postholer.com/ is a good map, journaling and forum site. He has a Google maps version of the entire PCT, including MyTopo view. He sells PCT map books.
PCT Elevation Profiles - Rob Bedichek has a well done, easy to print out set on his PCT website: http://bedichek.org/robert/pct/elevation_with_labels.html - there are five pages of profiles, each covering about 500 miles
A new set of profiles that is interactive - you select by section - very nice: http://www.bearcant.org/elevation.php
GPS waypoints, topo versions, pdf versions of sections A thru K at Halfmile's site http://www.pctmap.net/ . Halfmile has a borrowed set of gpx tracks for Washington, and I found that in several spots they do not follow the pct, but take alternate routes. I got a set of pct tracks for Washington from http://www.trailsource.com/pacific-crest-trail/index.asp
If you have an Android device, you can load Halfmile's maps and waypoints using the Backcountry Navigator app http://www.backcountrynavigator.com/android-gps-pacific-crest-trail/
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.
Another set of maps at 1:24000 is at http://pcnst.oakapple.net/maps/sc/ . This is provided by David of www.emeraldlakes.com , who also has an online town guide listed later.
This 3 set CD will allow you to print detailed topo maps for any part of the PCT, plus include a wealth of additional information: http://morethanamile.com/
Erik the Black's maps are no longer online since he published his guidebook. http://www.erikasorson.com/ . He has started publishing (in spring 2008) a series of guidebooks with maps and data points included: PCT Trail Atlas.
PCT on Google Earth: http://snipurl.com/lfft once you click this, click the placemark. You have to have downloaded Google Earth free software for it to work.
OpenStreetMap - pct is also here, but I haven't been successful at using it yet: http://www.openstreetmap.org/browse/relation/1225378/
PCT Magnetic Declination: For map and compass work, critical to know. This site will give declination for any latitude and longitude, and has tools for finding latitude and longitude: http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/seg/geomag/jsp/struts/calcDeclination
John Hansen put a very good post on the Yahoo John Muir Trail forum on his use of an iPhone with battery extender - was able to get 10 days of use without external recharging: http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/johnmuirtrail/conversations/topics/35156 look at post 6 of the conversation.
This is a little off topic, but if you are interested in the various ways to see your GPS track on a map, check out Two-Heel Drive's blog entry on the subject.
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.
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 cross early.
Crossing is about 4 minutes into the video:
http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=148318 Read from 6/11/06 forward.
I've been thinking about putting a page together on this for several years.
Fortunately, I've procrastinated so long that Diane of
has done it for me:
Warner Springs Monty was our first
http://www.hikerheaven.com/ is the site of the famous trail angel team at Agua Dulce - Donna & Jeff Saufley - a mandatory stop on the PCT.
Right at the intersection of the PCT with highway 138 in section E is Hikertown and Bob Mayon. See www.hikertown.com for details.
Walt & Laurie in Wrightwood
JoAnn in Mt. Shasta
Jim P for a ride down to Etna
Don't remember their names, but the Hiker Hut in Etna
The trailer court in Seiad Valley providing a hiker area
Diane for those car shuttles
Bob Ennis of www.mtwhitneyshuttle.com for above and beyond service
Remember that receipt of trail magic is a gift, not an entitlement. Leave a donation, and leave them looking forward to the next hiker.
Met the Dinsmores in Washington in 2010
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 John 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.
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. http://www.wild-ideas.net 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 bears.
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.
One of the challenges of the pct is dealing with the extremes of weather. You are going to have some very cold, cold/wet nights by the time you reach Canada. Review http://www.chiff.com/a/camping-sleep-warm.htm
Check the links in the ADZPCTKO link below. One of the links is a Ride Board.
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: http://pct77.org/adz/rides.htm 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. http://pct77.org/adz/getting_there.htm#border
Kennedy Meadows General Store
96740 Beach Meadow RD
Inyokern, CA 93527
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.
Another good source of shuttle info, shower locations, etc that is kept current: http://climber.org/data/index.html
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: www.rosamondtaxi.com 661-824-8294. 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) http://www.mtwhitneyshuttle.com/ (760) 876-1915 Call during evenings. They gave us excellent service in May of 08.
An East Side Sierra Shuttle Service that is run by Paul Fretheim started in 2012. http://www.eastsidesierrashuttle.com/ It covers the east side from Yosemite to Death Valley, and will do custom trips to almost any location in the Sierras.
There is a west side shuttle service into Sequoia-Kings Canyon Nat'l Park from Visalia:
There is a west side shuttle service into Vermillion Valley Resort from Fresno
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 walk around.)
For Public Transportation schedules: To get to the Eastern Sierra or Yosemite, here is an excellent link, including some bus schedules: http://alumnus.caltech.edu/~rbell/JMTTransport.html.gz
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 .
www.postholer.com as of 2008 has added journaling capability with good features.
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
We have a separate page on this: Backpack45 Trail Pacific Crest Trail Fire Info Sources
http://postholer.com/cgi-bin/postHoler This site is new as of Feb 2005 - a good graphical representation of how much and where.
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.
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 http://www.mountainweb.com/learn2climb/view_single.jsp?learntoclimb=38 to estimate wind speed. A summary is that 40 mph takes concentration to walk, above 70, almost impossible to walk.
Halfmile has a page with cell phone info by carrier - I
highly recommend looking at it
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.
A more recent source is the Spot Phone put out by findmespot.com. I used one of these as a loner and it was fine for me, though it can get turned on accidentally. You can read my blog review at http://timecheck00.blogspot.com/2013/11/spot-global-phone-satellite-phone-review.html
Another source for satellite phone is
They recommend only the iridium phone as the Globalstar serviced phones have
a number of failing satellites and service is spotty.
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 REI and sometimes get it discounted on Amazon.
Solar AA battery charger: See http://store.sundancesolar.com/flsobachfor4.html
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.
My current camera is a Canon Powershot S95.
Susan decided that she wanted an ultra zoom point and shoot, so got a Nikon Coolpix P80 with 18x zoom. However, she has since gone for a dlsr: Canon EOS
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/
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 shoes.
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.)
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:
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 his 2nd book 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 information.
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 must.
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. - published 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 www.pcthandbook.com Highly recommended.
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.
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why by Laurence Gonzales. 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.
Sierra Nevada The Range of Light by Aaron Doss. 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 Sierras.
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 bible.
Cheryl Strayed - Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. A very popular personal account - good story of Cheryl's life experience. Quite a bit more in it than just the pct experience.
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 story.
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 Trail by 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 pcttrailway.pctplanner.com
Go here to see all the Amazon Pacific Crest Trail Books.
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.
The Man Who Walked Through Time by Colin Fletcher: 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 recommend it.
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 the wilderness.
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 across Asia.
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.
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.
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 Pacific Crest Trail Association website, but the filmmakers website www.walkingthewest.com> 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 thru-hikers, 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 to Walk. 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 www.walkpct.com .
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. On Amazon, or directly from www.walkpct.com .
Walked - by Scott Herriott aka Squatch - 2007, 2008 continuation. Not to be missed if you are a PCT hiker. Get it from www.walkpct.com .
RESOULED on the Pacific Crest Trailby John Oldford - a DVD documentary on a 2002 thru-hike. 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 of 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: Click on http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=30207 for details.
Dinsmores River Haven 2008 YouTube Video:
Class of 2008, or anyone who has been to
Dinsmores check this out
Click on http://www.youtube.com/user/zaqueltooocool
Also, for 2009 season, they have moved, so check their website:
I've collected these from various places. Please email me if you have corrections, new candidates, etc. at rbalcorn at gmail dot com.
Definition: Assisted means crew following hiker and providing food & shelter at every opportunity. Hiker just has to walk the PCT.
2013 Josh Garrett - 59 days 8 hours 59 minutes, left southern border June 10th. This was two days after Anish who got the unsupported record a day earlier (see below). pcta.org/2013/pct-speed-record-is-shattered-twice-13750
2005 David Horton - 67 days - June 4 to Aug
9 at age 55
http://www.backpack45.com/newsletter2005.html (Sept newsletter)
Definition: Unassisted means normal PCT hiker, no slack packing.
2013 Heather "Anish" Anderson 60 days and 17 hours and 12 minutes, started June 8th from southern border. pcta.org/2013/pct-speed-record-is-shattered-twice-13750
2013, July 7 in progress per email from Marcia Powers: Triple Crown hiker Anish, Heather Jo Anderson, is currently past the 1000 mile mark on the PCT. She is on track for the fastest known time, FKT, by hiking 41 miles per day. She is entirely self supported to the extent of walking to resupply points rather than hitching.
2011 Scott Williamson completed on 11 Oct 2011 64 days, 11 hours.
2009 In Progress - Scott Williamson and Adam Bradley attempting to break Scott's unassisted record, at the same time breaking David Horton's assisted record time. Link to Jacob Nahin's video interview with Scott Williamson and Adam Bradley at Agua Dulce. See fastest California below.
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. http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=9275 (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.
71 days 2 hours in 2008 - finished Aug 18 - Scott Williamson & Tattoo Joe (Joe Kisner)
a little controversy in that they went thru an active fire area (Clover Fire) that was closed to pct hikers, however, they did get permission from the firefighters and rangers on the spot.
79 days 21 hrs in 2007 - finished Aug 7 - Tattoo Joe http://mailman.backcountry.net/pipermail/pct-l/2007-August/009353.html
81 days 8.5 hrs in 2005 by Squeaky (Mat Hazley) http://www.trailforums.com/detail.cfm?PostNum=5674
83 days set in 2003 by Ray Greenlaw http://www.backcountry.net/arch/pct/0308/msg00119.html
85 days in 2001 by Brian Robinson as part of his 2001 triple crown. www.outdoornewswire.com
Catra - dirt diva - attempted fastest unassisted (2007).
http://catrapct.blogspot.com/2007/07/days-67-68-sun-mon-july-29-30.html had to abandon attempt in Sisters after Giardia & injured knee
74 days in 2002 - RocketGirl - (Terry Wiemer?) (pct 02, cdt 04)
Someone said RocketGirl is a madeup hiker. Yogi's journal entries indicate she knew Rocketgirl, Yogi confirmed this to me by email.
Adam Bradley and Scott
Williamson - 7/21/2009 - 42 days, 18 hours,
http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=284061 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, on foot.)
Andrew Skurka - 45 days - 2006 http://www.andrewskurka.com/PCT06/index.php
Adam Bradley and Scott Williamson - Adam & Scott arrived at the Oregon/Washington border on July 31st, 10 days 14 hours 16 minutes 12 seconds after entering Oregon. http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=9275
Scott Williamson - Completed in Nov 2004 - 197 days, and in Nov 2006 - 191 days http://www.backpacker.com/article/8846
Scott Williamson - Completed 11th PCT in 2008
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.
80? "Listener" in progress in 2012 - no word on finishing
Mary (Medicare Pastor) Davidson - 2012 age 70 and 50.5 weeks finished July 24, 2012 per personal communication
Tough Old Broad (Jane D.) 2006 age 70 http://www.wild-ideas.net/news/blogger.html
Eleanor Guilford in 1989 at age of 71 http://redwood.sierraclub.org/articles/October_05/EnvironmentalForum_Nov.html
143 combined age: Ralph and Susan Alcorn (timecheck and backpack45), 74 and 69. Finished Sept 7, 2010, 11:10 am.
Billy Goat (George Woodard) is the current
contender. He has hiked the PCT at least 6 times. In 2008 he
was age 69 and on the trail. I assume he finished, but no
I think there have been some 70+ and maybe 80+ who thru-hiked it, but no documentation.
80? "Listener" was in progress in 2012, no word on finishing
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."
Jim Batdorff - 26 years - started in 1981 and completed in August 2007 at age 65
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"
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.
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 2010.
80? "Listener" in 2012 seen near Crater Lake
Oldgal (Marge Prothman) 73 in April 2000 Section B , also something in 2005.
2012 Monkey ( Sierra Burror ) age 8 when started on April 22nd, 9 when finished Sept 23rd with her mother Mama Bear (Heather Burror) http://www.sierrawave.net/14329/mother-and-daughter-complete/
2011 Sunshine (Reed Gjonnes) age 11. Also, Sunshine hiked the AT in 2012 and plans to hike the CDT in 2012, becoming the youngest to complete the Triple Crown. per email from Heather Burror
2007 - Oblivious (Brian McCarty) age 12 - hit Oregon 8/2 - did AT in 05. Traveling with father Troll (Bill). Both in kilts. Finished PCT on 9/16/07. Planning on CDT in 2009.
2004 - Scrambler (Mary Chambers) age 10. Travelling with Barbara Egbert & Gary Chambers. http://www.backcountry.net/arch/pct/0410/msg00542.html
1977 - Strider (Greg Hummel) age 11. http://www.backcountry.net/arch/pct/0410/msg00542.html
1952 Martin Papendick - (North to South)
1970 Eric Ryback - challenged due to rides accepted. http://www.pcta.org/about_trail/fun.asp
1972 Richard Watson (confirmed) http://www.bookrags.com/wiki/Pacific_Crest_Trail
1972 the group of Bill Goddard Toby Heaton, Butch Ferrand, Wayne Martin and David Odell. David had done the AT in 71 and did the CDT in 77. (per 2010 email from David Odell).
1972 Mary Carstens -
1974 Jean Beck (now Audet) First woman to thru-hike both AT (72) and pct with her husband Rick
http://www.backcountry.net/arch/pct/0412/msg00159.html and per email 2010 from David Odell 72 thru-hiker
1974 Denise Myers
1976 Teddi Boston - First to thru-hike solo southbound. Hiking north to south, starting May 1st, Boston completed the PCT in 1976. At the time, she was in her forties and a mother of four
1976 Carolyn 'Ravensong' Burkhart along with Teddi Boston above, First to thru-hike solo north bound - personal communication
1984 Joanne and Marion (Mugs) Knezacek - (source http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/pdfs/chronicle/AL_CHRON_1984_2.pdf )
Bob Holtel over the course of three summers
starting in 1885 at age 55. He is attempting it again, over
two summers, starting in 2010, finishing at age 80. His book
on the first run is listed above.
This just for fun category was inspired by
some recent pct-l messages re REI. I'm not recording the
lowest 3 digits to prevent compromising the number.
Thatcher Koch - 139###.
Susan Virnig - 127### 1967
Paul Freiman (Bivy) - 106###
Yosemite James 74### 1964-65.
2001 Brian Robinson PCT, AT, CDT all
completed in one calendar year.
Ken and Marcia Powers completed the "Grand Slam" - PCT, AT, CDT, ADT. http://www.discoverytrail.org/news/powers/index.html They have now (2008) finished the Arizona Trail.
http://pbakwin.home.comcast.net/~pbakwin/FKT.html - A lot of information on this site on fastest times on many different trails. Check it out.
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.
The gear list is a google spreadsheet. To get an xls file you can save, click on http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pPFto0EzOaDvrKYt_NSZZEg - 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.
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.
An alliance of conservation organizations has recently put together a site promoting the crown jewels of the BLM system. You can click on the following and find the selected areas by state: http://www.conservationsystem.org/conservationsystem
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.
Crow's blog - a huge amount of PCT gear info along with some interesting stories http://asthecrowflies.org/
Do your own gear patterns, lightweight gear, excellent advice on thru-hiking http://thru-hiker.com/materials/index.php
An excellent but huge site dedicated to lightweight backpacking is www.backpacking.net, forums, archives, gear, the works.
Another good homegrown website on ultralight hiking - lots of good links - visit Michael's Ultralight Backpacking Page
Joe Valesco's lightweight gear includes belt bags and shoulder strap bags for carrying cameras, etc. http://www.zpacks.com/
Also, Joe's www.ultralightbackpacker.com is an excellent non commercial site with the best writeup on Tyvek that I've seen.
www.adventurealan.com - another non commercial ultralight site with good info and great photos that load fast.
Great Grand Canyon site for anyone thinking of hiking the Grand Canyon www.hitthetrail.com
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 www.alabamatrail.org
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 www.adventurelore.com.
Emma Gatewood first hiked the entire 2160 mile Appalachian Trail at the age of 67. She last hiked it at the age of 76.