[pct-l] Southbound PCT

Connie Davis conniedavis at earthlink.net
Thu Apr 30 09:59:38 CDT 2009

My son and I southbounded for most of the trail (Flip-flop in 2005).
Our journal may give you some ideas on conditions in June, seems like  
a similar snow year.  http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm? 
id=103855  (If you have gear questions, I filled that out, too.) Other  
southbounder journals in "05 would be Blast and Pirouette.   There  
were quite a few southbounders--the Newlyweds, Burn...check Trail  
Journals--southbound will be marked on most.

Snow/ice conditions in June:  You will encounter some switchbacks that  
will be under snow and be needing to contour basins on snow fields.   
There may be fog.  We wore boots for the first section (big mistake,  
but more on that later) and had hiking poles. No ice axe, no crampons  
(although we have experience using both.)  I never felt in danger,  
although some people did slide down snow fields, but they were being a  
bit careless (IMHO).  You slow down, plant each foot, plant your  
trekking poles, don't cross when it's icey, etc.  You didn't mention  
fords.  There may be some high fords, but again, we used our brains.   
Cross in the morning, unhook your pack, use your trekking poles, face  
upstream, go slow, cross where the other animals cross (not where the  
trail does if it looks bad.)  We forded in our trail runners and just  
wore them dry.  (Hard to do in boots!)

Shoes:  We thought we would be clever and switch from our trail  
runners to boots for rainy/snow conditions.  We both wish we hadn't.   
As soon as we could (Rainy Pass) we switched back to trail runners and  
I wore Merrells, my son wore North Face.  Wear what works for you.   
Fording: I took out  my insoles, spenco, and took off my socks.   
Walked across the stream/river.  Used my camptowel to squeeze as much  
water out of shoes as possible, put insoles and wool socks back on and  
kept walking.  My son sometimes wore flip-flops in slow streams.  Feet  
were often wet but always warm once we'd hiked a bit.

Rain will actually be your biggest bummer.  You will be hiking through  
amazing country and can't see it!  We did stop early several days  
because we were too cold or wet or getting close to it.  Make sure you  
carry some extra food if you need to hunker down for a day or so.  A  
hot beverage when the rain stops is a blessing!  I wouldn't do this  
section without a stove in June.

Calories:  I did the calorie calculations, etc. and we tried to carry  
that much food. We are both vegetarian.  My son lost weight, I didn't  
(common male-female phenomenon).  We added TVP to meals, carried olive  
oil until we got sick of the taste (butter is great if it is cold  
enough out to carry it.)  I added protein powder to our breakfast  
drinks.  We ate lots of nuts.  We gorged in town.  Pizza, beer, ice  
cream!  When we noticed Alex was losing weight, we upped his calories  
by adding more bars.

Reading the guides backwards:  Challenging.  We did get confused on  
occasion.  (I don't believe in being lost, just confused).  I also  
miscalculated miles at least once, but it all works out.  We relied on  
additional maps.  I purchased Green Trails maps for all of  
Washington.  The PCT is clearly marked and you can see all the options  
for exit if needed.  I purchased additional maps for Oregon at the REI  
in Portland when we were at Cascade Locks. I also carried a road map  
(with parts cut off)--again, if you need to get out, you know where  
the roads are.  Best thing about hiking southbound is the views!! You  
will have amazing views of Rainier and the Goat Rocks that most PCTers  
miss (and of course, you will miss some amazing northbound views.)

Breaking up sections:  See road maps, above.  Check out the forest  
service websites to see which FS roads are open and for trail reports.

Glacier Peak reroute:  I LOVE THE REROUTE!  It was the most beautiful  
part of the entire trail for me.  It was challenging, strenuous and  
drop-dead gorgeous.  Three fords, 2 passes in one day...stunning.  
Wildflowers, bears, crossing a glacial river...it doesn't get better  
than that.


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