Saturday, May 1, 2010


I will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail starting this June.  Many people have asked many questions, so I’ll give the quick introduction below in a simulated call and response:

What is the Pacific Crest Trail?

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a foot trail stretching from Mexico to Canada on the West Coast of the United States.  The trail runs through California, Oregon and Washington.  The total length of the trail is ~2,650 miles, and takes ~4-6 months to complete. A complete end-to-end hike is called a “thru-hike”*.  

Note*: I know that “thru” to mean “through” is the essentially the same thing as writing “nite”, “kwik”, “cheez” or “krispy”.  While I’m a big fan of properly spelled words, I’m going to bow to convention here.  

How long will this take?

As mentioned above, most thru-hikes take 4-6 months.  The rule of thumb for Appalachian Trail (AT) hikers is that it will take n-1 months to hike, where n is the # of months it took to hike the AT.  All told, it should take me ~5 months.  I hiked the AT in 2005, and I did keep a journal if you’re interested.

Why are you doing this?

There are many reasons to hike the PCT, which I’ll talk about over the course of the next several months.  One reason is that I would like to hike the American Triple Crown, which includes the AT, PCT and the CDT (Continental Divide Trail).  

What’s the plan?

Start northbound in early June.  Finish in Manning Park, BC by mid-October.  Go back to the early June start point, and go South to Mexico.

As far as I know, the most important dates are the time of entry into Kennedy Meadows (the Southern end of the Sierras), and the finishing in Canada.  In a “typical”* year, PCT hikers should be at Kennedy Meadows by 6/15, and finish in Canada by 10/15.  

This is the critical test of the PCT—1940 miles completed in 122 days, averaging ~16 mi/day without rest days.  

Note*:  Because of snow this year, the actual entry date for Kennedy Meadows will be 6/21.  For more information on how to calculate start date, see this excellent post at

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