For future thruhikers or those curious, here’s the Too Long; Didn’t Read version of my Pacific Crest Trail thruhike. Your mileage, pun absolutely intended, may vary.
Start: 4 May 2016
Finish: 29 September 2016
Total Time: 149 days (4 months, 25 days or 21 weeks, 1 day)
Total Mileage: 2692.4 (with side trails and alternates)
Average Daily Mileage Overall: 18.1 miles/day
Zero Days: 12 (2 each in Green Valley and Bishop; 1 each in Idlyllwild, Kernville, Kennedy Meadows, Mammoth, Tahoe, Ashland, Bend, Portland)
Average Daily Mileage, without Zero Days: 19.6 miles/day
Nero1 Days: 31
Average Daily Mileage, without Zeros or Neros: 22.5 miles/day
Average Daily Mileage of First Week: 15.6 miles/day
Average Daily Mileage of Last Week: 20.1 miles/day
Highest Mileage in a Day: 33.4 (Day 88)
Lowest Mileage in a Day, without Zeros or Neros: 11.9 (Day 58)
SoCal Average Daily Mileage: 14.7 miles/day
SoCal Average Daily Mileage, without Zeros: 16.1 miles/day
SoCal Average Daily Mileage, without Zeros or Neros: 19.0 miles/day
Sierra Average Daily Mileage: 15.0 miles/day
Sierra Average Daily Mileage, without Zeros: 16.7 miles/day
Sierra Average Daily Mileage, without Zeros or Neros: 19.7 miles/day
NorCal Average Daily Mileage: 23.7 miles/day
NorCal Average Daily Mileage, without Zeros: 23.7 miles/day (I took no Zeros in NorCal)
NorCal Average Daily Mileage, without Zeros or Neros: 25.6 miles/day
Oregon Average Daily Mileage: 21.1 miles/day
Oregon Average Daily Mileage, without Zeros: 24.3 miles/day
Oregon Average Daily Mileage, without Zeros or Neros: 25.9 miles/day
Washington Average Daily Mileage: 21.4 miles/day
Washington Average Daily Mileage, without Zeros: 21.4 miles/day (I took no Zeros in WA)
Washington Average Daily Mileage, without Zeros or Neros: 24.0 miles/day
Resupply Towns, California: Warner Springs, Idyllwild, Big Bear, Wrightwood, Agua Dulce, Tehachapi, Lake Isabella, Kennedy Meadows, Bishop, Muir Trail Ranch (Hikerbox), Mammoth, Tuolumne Meadows, Kennedy Meadows North, South Lake Tahoe, Sierra City, Belden, Old Station, Burney, Mount Shasta, Etna
Resupply Towns, Oregon: Ashland, Crater Lake – Mazama Village, Crescent Lake, Bend, Big Lake Youth Camp, Timberline Lodge, Cascade Locks
Resupply Towns, Washington: White Pass, Snoqualmie Pass, Skykomish, Stehekin
Resupply Strategy: Buy as you Go for most of California; Mail Drops for Warner Springs, Tuolumne Meadows, Sierra City, Belden, Old Station, and all of Oregon and Washington
Average Distance between Resupply, total: 85.6
Longest Distance between Resupply: 148.3
Shortest Distance between Resupply: 35.9
Favorite Town Stops: Paradise Valley, Idyllwild, Wrightwood, Agua Dulce, Green Valley, Mammoth, South Lake Tahoe, Etna, Ashland, Portland, Stehekin. So many magical places, so many magical people.
Favorite Resupply Town: Probably Etna or Stehekin, 100% because both places had, in my opinion, the best food on trail. (I didn’t count Paradise Valley because I didn’t resupply there.)
Least Favorite Resupply Town: Belden, though the trail magic there was incredible and the folks at the music festival were great.
Favorite Thing to Resupply: MAC AND CHEESE. Also Peanut M&Ms.
Least Favorite Thing to Resupply: Clif Bars. I ate a couple, but mostly avoided them like the plague.
Favorite Piece of Gear: Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch 3F Sleeping Bag. It’s SO FLUFFY. Also, I like being warm.
Least Favorite Piece of Gear: I sent home my Rite in the Rain notebook. Just never used it. But otherwise I felt pretty well dialed in.
Notable Wildlife Sightings: 2 black bears, 3(?) mountain lions, 1 snowshoe hare, 1 badger, innumerable lizards deer pikas marmots butterflies
Guns Seen: 0
Number of Days I Went Without Seeing People: 0
Common Dinner: Beans and Rice when stoveless, Mac & Cheese with stove
Break Philosophy: I didn’t really like taking breaks, but I think I learned that I do need to take breaks – though I tried to keep them to about an hour only a couple of times a day. I tried to do all my snacking while walking, and almost got the addendum “Kangaroo” to my trail name, because I used my shirt as a pocket to carry all my snacks. And, much like on the Colorado Trail, while I was hiking with other people, it was a lot easier to chill out, sit down, and have a meal-type-thing when there was the promise of company while I was doing it.
Biggest Joy: The day I hiked Forester Pass; the day I finished.
Biggest Pain: Physically, pinching that nerve in my back. Mentally, knowing I was drained in Washington, and knowing I was sO CLOSE to the finish.
Would You Recommend the Pacific Crest Trail?: Yes. So yes. Such yes. Many yes. Wow.
Would You Recommend the Pacific Crest Trail as a Starting Trail?: I wouldn’t not recommend it. I know plenty of people who successfully completed it as their first backpacking trip, though for the most part, they were hiking with more experienced partners.
So that’s the quick of it. Click here to start reading the long of it.
Other questions? Comment, and I’ll answer.
 Nero, while sometimes defined as less than 10 miles in a day, is here defined as a half day or less spent hiking. Do feel free to check out the Google Doc for details on that.
10 thoughts on “TL;DR Pacific Crest Trail Thruhike”
What do you mean you would not recommend as a Starting Trail? You mean as a first Thru- or hiking in general? And why would you not recommend it?
Also, question regarding resupply. You said you sent yourself boxes (Yes, I read everything :p) for all of Oregon and Washingron. Do you regret this or do you think it was a good strategy? I think I recall one of your posts mentionning you wish you were not stuck in a particular spot because of Post Office closing hours/days.
Congrats again on the Finish and the Journal in general. I really enjoyed it and it’s making me pumped for my own PCT thru-hike (2018). Working on my GR10 Thru-hike for this year (it’s in France, coast to coast :)). Looking forward to read more posts on your blog!
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So I “wouldn’t not” recommend it as a first thruhike – meaning that I think it’d be tough as a first thruhike/backpacking trip without support, either in the form of someone hiking with you or someone sending you boxes or something like that. That said, I know a lot of people for whom it was their first thruhike, so I certainly wouldn’t let that stop you/anyone. I just think ramping up with something shorter (the JMT, the Colorado Trail) isn’t a bad idea. In 2016 the PCT had, from my rough calculations, about a 20% thruhiker finish rate, from the permit stats and the people who registered that they finished (all self-reported, admittedly), and most (but not all) people I knew who finished had some long-distance backpacking experience under their belt. Like I said, though, your mileage may vary.
As for your resupply questions, for Washington, it was basically necessary – it would have been rough (not to mention expensive) resupplying out of the convenience stores that mark the basically-on-trail stops in Washington, particularly with all the people there when I was. In Oregon, it would have maybe been a tad bit easier because of Ashland at the beginning, Bend in the middle, and Cascade Locks at the end, but Crater Lake, Crescent Lake, and Timberline Lodge are all convenience stores, too. Best just to time your walking better than I did, in my opinion.
Super cool you’re doing the GR10! I wanna hike in Europe one day, but it’s hard to convince myself, what with all the rad hiking in my metaphorical backyard. I’m hoping I’ll get there, though!
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Gotcha! Thanks for your answer 🙂 This will make my organization a bit more complex it looks like, living abroad! Sending boxes from Europe would be insanely expensive. I will find a way 🙂
How did you plan your mileage at the beginning for those boxes? I believe you used Guthook while hiking?
I have done a big chunk of the GR10 last year and finishing the remaining 2/3 this year. It is a total of 2 months hike on Sierra-like terrain and should give me the experience needed for the PCT I hope (learning the ropes of logistics and all..).
There is a tons of amazing trails in your backyard for sure but we have some sweet and badass trails here as well! The Pyrennees and the Alps (speaking for my home country hehe) have so much to offer 🙂 Hope you will get to hike in Europe as well one day. If you need advice, feel free to reach out (I am posting about my hikes in Europe on my blog).
Anything you wish you did differently/knew at the beginning?
p.s. Totally impressed with your adventure!!
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Not when I got to the trail. I kind of came to the PCT with a super open mind – I wanted to get to Canada, but other than that, I just wanted to be willing to accept the experiences that came my way, good and bad.
Prep-wise, I wish I’d had dehydrated some of my favorite foods and had them sent to me in a way that I could’ve stayed stoveless – beans and rice got old to me after a while. I also wish I’d been in better shape. But neither thing was necessary.
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Thanks for sharing!! This was very insightful. Looking forward to hiking the PCT with my husband starting May 4th.
I was a bit confused with your resupply strategy. Did you do mail drops through all of Oregon or buy as you go? Also what was the longest you went without resupplying? How many days?
Mail drops. I bought in Bend for Washington – I wasn’t initially going to stop there, but Spesh came to hike with me for a while and his flight was out of Bend.
I’ll have to check the spreadsheet for the longest stretch, but I think it was 7 days.
Bummer about your Rite in the Rain! Was there some type of issue with it, or was it just something you didn’t end up using?
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It worked great! I love it and use it on other backpacking treks. It was just weight I wasn’t using. I actually ended up tearing a few pages out of it and keeping those just in case, and they survived crazy rain in Washington – still have em, in fact 🙂