The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is over 2,650 miles long. It starts on the US-Mexican border and then travels through 57 major mountain passes, 19 major canyons and by the shores of a 1,000 lakes to finish in British Colombia, Canada. On the way through California, Oregon & Washington state, the trail passes through the Mojave Desert, the High Sierras, Yosemite, Mt Shasta, the Cascades and by Crater Lake, the Colombia River Gorge and Mount Rainier. And although it’s called the Pacific “Crest” trail, the trail doesn’t just follow mountain ridges – it is a constant up and down from near sea level to above 13,000 feet. During our hike we passed through desert, alpine, savannah, rain forest and more… experiencing six out of seven of North America’s eco-zones.
Q. How long did it take you?
A. 5 months. Most finish in 3-6 months.
Q. How many miles a day did you hike?
A. About 25 miles. It varied depending on elevation gain & loss, weather and blister count. We started off slow, worked up to mid 20s, were slowed down again in the High Sierras, then did 25s through Northern California, 30s through Oregon and 25s through Washington.
Q. How many other crazies do this hike?
A. About 300 a year. That is about 300 start the PCT… but only about 1 in 3 of them actually make it to Canada.
Q. Did you ever rest?
A. YES! We took rest days – called Zero Days, since you do zero trail miles – about every ten days. We even enjoyed some lovely Double Zeros… two rest days in a row!
Q. What did you bring with you?
A. Far too much. It’s hard to get the balance right between “being prepared” and not having a pack so heavy you’re in agony. We packed LOTS of dehydrated food, an awesome little alcohol stove, a titanium pot, a Hubba Hubba tent, 2 Bubba Kegs, 2 sleeping bags & pads, a t-shirt & zip off trousers each, warm gear, rain gear, a camera, little notebooks, 1 ipod, 2 pairs of undies each and 1 toothbrush (+/- a few items). We’re definitely NOT ultra light.
Q. What animals did you see?
A. 1 mountain lion, 1 bear, 1 gigantic snowshoe hare, 1 tortoise, many deer, birds, snakes and mosquitoes!
Q. How wild is the wild wild West? Complete wilderness?
A. It ain’t Alaska. We enter towns every 3 – 7 days. There’s only 2 towns ON the actual PCT, but we walked or hitchhiked to the others. The longest wilderness stretches were the High Sierras & the North Cascades… hundreds of miles without roads, towns, electrical pylons, etc.
Q. Where did you sleep?
A. In the Hubba Hubba. No really, we slept in our MSR Hubba Hubba tent. We were also spoilt by some Trail Angels who hosted us for a night here and there along the trail and we splurged on a few motels.
Q. What did you eat?
A. Pure lard. Ok, that’s a lie. We actually re-fueled on granola bars, dried fruit, instant carbs (mashed potatoes, cous cous, quinoa, etc), beans, dried veggies & instant jello pudding. The key is lightweight, high calorie foods, which is why we dehydrated lots of food to remove the water weight. Unfortunately, nothing can satisfy HIKER HUNGER!
Q. How did you get your food?
A. The postman! We prepared & packaged all our food ahead of time and my parents kindly mailed them off so (most of the time) they were at the post office when we arrived in town. We also bought some food in town… the hunger is insane.
Q. What did you drink?
A. Cervesa. And also a lot of water. Plus we had powdered mixes to make everything from hot chocolate to pina colada. We also had Aqua Mira to treat natural water sources, though from the High Sierras on we didn’t treat most of our water. A risk yes, but it worked for us… nothing like drinking straight from a pristine stream of ice-cold H20.
Q. Did you ever bathe?
A. Hardly. You may think cleanliness is next to godliness, but we know better. Let’s face it, dirty girls & boys have more fun.
Q. How did you know where to go?
A. Map & compass. We used the PCT Atlas, which was usually accurate. And there’s trail markers along the way… but not enough to go mapless.
Q. Did you get hurt?
A. No! Thankfully we didn’t suffer from anything beyond minor aches, pains and blisters. But we’re both Wilderness First Aid Certified, had a mobile (but not necessarily reception) and even joined the American Alpine Club to get search & rescue coverage.
Q. Are you independently wealthy?
A. Heck no. But we saved up monies working & are good at being frugal. However, we definitely finished near broke.