[pct-l] So, you're going on a hike...

Douglas Tow douglastow at gmail.com
Wed Jan 28 13:26:23 CST 2015

For those who are going to section or thru the PCT, here are some things
that I either did, or wished in retrospect that I had done, to increase the
odds that you will meet your goal.

First, realize that there are some completely unprepared hikers who hike
the entire trail, and that there are some veteran hikers who don't make
their objective.  All in all, though, knowledge and preparation helps.  85%
of trail drop-outs have nothing to do with their physical state.

1.  Before you depart on your long-distance PCT hike, hike some hikes with
the gear you think is suitable for your PCT trip.  My personal #1 advantage
was doing a 6-day trail hike in the mountains.  It showed me that my shoes,
rain gear, sleeping bag, water purification method, and food were wrong,
and that my pack, tent, socks, and navigation aids were keepers.  It also
gave me an idea of how far I was comfortable hiking each day, at least at

2.  You will, at various times, be some combination of hot, cold, wet,
filthy, hungry, thirsty, lonely, cranky, emotionally low, achy, blistered.
You will seriously think that what you have done is crazy, or at least not
worth the hassle.  If, however, you resolve to stay on the trail for 30
days, you will a) be Ironman regardless of the shape you started in, b)
have experienced the wonder of this community of friends and shared
surroundings, and c) know that the world doesn't revolve around your hike,
and that is a real feeling of freedom.

3.  Most hikers start solo, but no one hikes along for the whole trail
unless they choose to.  You will get to intimately know about 50 hikers,
those who pass you and then you encounter later, and vice versa.  They will
know you and care about you, and vice versa.  And not to worry, you won't
get lost, and you'll get those rides into town that you're worried about.

4.  Nothing can prepare you for the beauty, the wonder, the belonging.


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