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Frequently Asked Questions

Where and what is the PCT?
The Pacific Crest Trail (or PCT for short)is a continuous hiking trail which which goes from the border of Mexico (near Campo, CA) to just across the border of Canada (Manning Park).  It passes near the southern california desserts, up across the heights of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and on through the cascade mountains of Oregon and Washington.

How long is it?
It's about 2650 miles long.  Although, most people end up taking side trips into towns and over to some places of special interest.  That usually puts the trip at roughly 2700miles.

How long does it take to do the whole thing?
I hiked it in 5 and a half months, but that included a lot of goofing off.  4.5 months is very "do-able".  The fastest it can be hiked is about 3 months, but that means 30+ miles/day and no time off.  The longest one can safely take is about 6 and a half months.

When did you leave and finish?
I started hiking on April 17, 1999.
I finished on Oct 2, 1999.

How many miles per day did you hike?
On a full day of hiking I usually went 24 miles.  Although, a lot of days were only half-days (coming out of town, etc.)  The farthest I hiked in a day was ~32 miles.

How much did your pack weigh?
Without food and water, ~20-23 pounds (changed depending on equipment).  I carried about 2.3 pounds of food per day.  Water weighs about 2 pounds per liter (or quart).

How did keep yourself supplied?
The PCT passes through or near a number of small towns that usually have at least a post office or a store.  One can mail resupply packages ahead to oneself / general delivery.

How many people do this each year?
In 1999, somewhere around 250 attempted it.  Only about 60-70 of those actually made it to Canada.  I don't know how many of those people actually hiked the whole trail (some skipped around a lot)

How high in elevation does it get?
Forester Pass is at 13200feet.  The PCT passes a few miles from the summit of Mt. Whitney in California, which at 14,496 feet is the highest point in the lower 48 states.  Many PCT hikers make a side trip to the top of Mt. Whitney (I did).

What kind of map/directions did you have?
Wilderness Press puts out the best guide to the PCT (2 volumes).  These books include topographic maps and text descriptions of the trail.  I sliced up the books, and included the appropriate sections in my re-supply packages.

How long has the PCT "been around"?
The idea for the PCT has been around since around 1930.  The trail was "made official" in 1965 and 1968 and 1972 and finally in 1993.  It does undergo minor changes from year to year.  I'm sure someone will find it necessary to re-dedicate again in a few years.

Did you hike south to north? north to south? does it matter?
I went south to north... essentially "chasing the spring" as it worked its way north.  South to North is an easier route for a variety of reasons.  Some people do the trail North to South.  They usually start a little later and go quicker.  In 1999, nobody hiked the whole trail North to South.  There was just too much snow in the North Cascades.

How does the PCT compare with the Appalachian Trail (AT)?
The PCT is longer, more remote, less populated, and achieves higher elevations.  The trail of the AT however is a steeper grade, and there's a lot more up and down and up and down.  I think that one actually climbs more vertical feet on the AT.  The AT is also a lot more humid.  The AT has been around a lot longer, and is more widely known.  Something like 1000 people "try" the AT each year.  Also, the PCT allows pack animals and horses, the AT only allows people.

Did you do this alone? Why?
Yes and no. I was completely self-sufficient.  But, there were a lot of other hikers on similar schedules.  I spent a lot of time hiking with other people, more for companionship than anything else.

What kind of foods did you eat?
Lots of pasta and candy bars.  Check out the Equipment section.

Did you carry a phone or a radio or GPS receiver?
No... and I didn't bring a TV or a Laptop or a gun either.  (some people did bring tiny cell phones for safety reasons though)


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