The What, the Where, and the When

I’m doing it. It’s really happening.

I will be thruhiking the Pacific Crest Trail this summer.

These are some things I have to remind myself every morning.

But before getting to the “why”, I thought I’d channel my engineering spirit and start this blog out with the facts – the Pacific Crest Trail is one of the National Scenic Trails in the United States, and spans from the Mexican Border to Canada. It starts at Campo, California and ends in Manning Park, BC.

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I don’t know who Bart Smith is, but he sounds like a badass. This just happened to be the best map of the National Scenic Trails that I found.[Source]

The PCT passes through three states – desert, mountains, and more mountains.

I kid, but it’s an accurate joke. The PCT passes through California, Oregon, and Washington, and traverses three main regions – the Mojave Desert, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and the Cascade mountains. That is wildly oversimplified, but here’s what it looks like in more detail:

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This is the PCT in all its (lengthy) glory. [Source]

For those who like numbers, here are some facts about the PCT (borrowed from Halfway Anywhere’s excellent PCT blog):

PACIFIC CREST TRAIL FACTS

Location: California / Oregon / Washington, USA / British Columbia, Canada
Length: 2,663 mi (4,286 km)
Time Zone: PST (UTC-8)
Southern Terminus: Campo, California
Northern Terminus: Manning Park, British Columbia
Highest Point: Forester Pass, 13,153 ft (4,009 m)
Lowest Point: Cascade Locks, 140 ft (43 m)
Elevation Change: 420,880 ft (128,284 m)
Use: Pedestrian & Equestrian
Drinking Age: 21 (unenforced)
Drinking In Public: Go for it!
Drinking Tap Water: At your own discretion
Flushing Toilet Paper: Pack it out!

And every year, a whole crowd of crazies decide to start at one end (mostly the southern terminus) and walk all the way to the other end. This year I plan to be one of those crazies (who will thereafter be described as “thruhikers”).

A little more terminology:

Thruhiker: Definitions vary, but this is generally someone who walks the entire length of a trail (usually one of the the Triple Crown) in one year. 

Triple Crown of hiking: The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), Continental Divide Trail (CDT), and Appalachian Trail (AT).

NOBO: A NOrth-BOund hiker. Someone who hikes the trail starting at the southern terminus and working their way north.

SOBO: A SOuth-BOund hiker. Someone who hikes the trail starting at the northern terminus and works their way south.

Flip flop: Someone who starts hiking NOBO, but partway through jumps to the northern terminus and starts working their way SOBO to meet up with where they left the trail.

Taking a “zero”: A day with no miles hiked. Often a day off in town.

Taking a “nearo”: A day with very few miles hiked (nearly zero).

I’m sure there will be more lingo to come, but that seems like an adequate start.

Thruhiking tends to take between 4 and 6 months. I have a permit from the Pacific Crest Trail Association (or PCTA) to start my thruhike on May 6th, 2017. I will be starting at Campo and hiking NOBO.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the PCT or supporting the wonderful people who maintain this gem of a trail, you should visit the PCTA website. And as per usual, the Wikipedia page has tons of information for those wishing to read more or see some beautiful pictures.

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