Inspiring hikes: The Pacific Crest Trail

Wow. Just wow. Where do I begin this one?  This past week at tramping club, a young NZer presented a talk about his trip along the Pacific Crest Trail last year.  It was amazing and so inspiring.  The Pacific Crest Trail stretches from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington (2663 miles, 4286 km).  It took him 6 months to walk.  He went through five pairs of boots.  I asked him how many socks and he said he lost count!  You can read about his track briefly here or on in more depth on his blog here.

It was easily one of the best presentations we’ve had at tramping club.  Such a physical and mental challenge!  Of course, I also was interested in how much it cost, he said including airfare around $10,000NZD but he didn’t know for sure.  Other people wanted to know how many people finished (he estimated around 40%) and how many women did it (he estimated 15% and D suspected that was probably a bit generous – I did a rough count from 2012 and counted 81 who finished).  FYI, you actually receive this ginormous medal when you do finish.  Neat, huh?

I know of people who have done the Appalachian Trail.  I think that one is more popular (2180 miles or 3500 km and 14 states).  But the Pacific Crest trail sounds more varied in terms of landscape.  It also sounds scarier in terms of wildlife and terrain (rattlesnakes, bears, wildfires – oh my!).  Oh, and you pass through some areas of desert (D was totally off-put by the idea of dry and hot and not always reliable water sources).

For those of us who have done a bit of tramping, you can only imagine the physical and mental changes that would occur after walking for 6 months!  Jeremy said he still has marks on his hips from his pack, and was told that his feet were supposed to recover by Christmas (he finished in October last year)…  I can sympathize with that as I still have marks on my hips from my tramp last weekend where the skin was rubbed completely raw.

Even after hearing everything about the trail and how sometimes you are not only really miserable but it really is a test of survival skills as some people very nearly die, part of me still wants to put it on my bucket list.  I know it’s a little crazy.  Ok, it’s a lot crazy.  And to be honest, I’d probably be better doing the Te Araroa (the length of New Zealand – 3000 km or 1864 miles).  But part of me thinks – that’s something I’d like to tackle.  Especially due to the sense of community and support on the trail, and the people you meet, some of whom may become your lifelong friends.  Indeed, people leave messages for friends along the trail, and everyone has a nickname.  Also, there is the amazing support of locals and “trail angels” – it all sounds pretty incredible.

But then the other part of me thinks it would be so hard – nearly devastating – on the body.  The human body is amazing – but your poor feet and joints…  ouch!  Not to mention your metabolism would be all out of whack afterwards.  But still, if I had the opportunity to walk it (the time and money, mostly), yes, I probably would give it a go.  Maybe after I finish my PhD…

Am I crazy?  Do you have anything like this on your bucket list?


6 thoughts on “Inspiring hikes: The Pacific Crest Trail

  1. You should do it! Typo was right. You will absolutely love the PCT. There’s no greater sense of accomplishment than a thru-hike. It’s truly something that you have to experience for yourself. I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who wants to have the adventure of a lifetime. It’s worth every single step ; )

    • Your story sounds amazing! I must say I’m definitely impressed as Typo said there weren’t many women who did it. Although your story about 39-miles in one night was absolutely terrifying! It really is a test of survival! Also – I love your bright coloured shoes!

      • Hahah thank you so much! My shoes are what I was known for.. well that and carrying nail polish. Hey I gotta remain as girly as I could surrounded by all those men. Even though the 39 miles was quite scary I was one of the only ones in the class of 2012 who encountered something like that. Generally speaking the trail is extremely safe : ) I could go on for days but nothing is going to really get you to understand what it’s like unless you’re actually out there! I fully support it! If you have ANY questions I’d love to help you… maybe there can be another PCT convert ; )

      • I loved the nail polish too! The PCT does sound amazing! I’ve got to finish my degree first but then – who knows?! : D

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