• How long will hiking the PCT take? The time it takes to complete a thru-hike of the PCT depends on a number of factors - including weather, number of day zeroes, hiking speed, etc. Typically, it takes about 5 and a half months to complete the hike. We plan to start hiking on April 17 and hope to complete the hike by the end of September. 
  • Are you hiking north or south? While it is possible to hike the PCT from North to South (southbound), it is more logistically challenging and there is a higher risk of uncooperative weather. Most people hike from South to North (northbound) - and we'll join the others for a northbound journey which will end in Canada. 
  • Will you see other people during the hike? Yes! Due to the various factors involved in hiking the PCT, the hiking season is constrained to a limited time frame during a calendar year. It's important to start hiking north late enough in the year that enough snow will have melted from the California mountains, particularly in the Sierras. However, it's also crucial to complete Oregon and Washington before the rain and snow begin in the fall. Given these factors, most hikers begin the PCT sometime in mid to late April, and aim to complete the trail by the end of September. For that reason, northbound hikers are clustered fairly close together throughout the trail. Anecdotally, many previous thru-hikers seem to agree it's hard NOT to make close friends and hiking partners while on the PCT. I'm sure you can imagine I probably wouldn't be planning this adventure if there wasn't the promise of new friends and laughs with others along the way. 
  • What is the Kick Off? Every year, previous thru-hikers plan and host a kick off weekend in support of those who are hiking that year. The "Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off" (ADZPCTKO, or for the sake of simplicity, KO) is part seminar/information, part celebration/party, and part last minute preparation, with various vendors on site to assist with any gear necessities or changes. This year, the KO will be held the last weekend of April (26-28) at Lake Morena, CA. A number of people (myself included) plan to hike the first section, or first 100 miles, of the trail in advance of the KO, and then return for the weekend. We're excited to get a few miles under our belts before the KO. In the event of any unforeseen issues with gear or general hiking strategy, returning to the KO will provide an opportunity to make adjustments. Additionally, Brett's parents have offered to fly to San Diego and pick us up at the end of our first 100 miles. We'll spend a few days with them in San Diego and celebrate his aunt's 60th birthday. I think (hope) that knowing we have a few relaxing days to look forward to after the first week will make the first section of the trail less daunting!
  • How far will you hike each day? On average, most people hike about 20 miles a day when all is said and done. However, in the beginning, it's important to move at a slower pace to get your trail legs and protect against injury. We'll probably start hiking about 10-15 miles per day and ramp up to about 20 from there. Once the trail enters the Sierras, we'll be at high elevation, potentially in snow, and climbing the highest passes of the trail - which means mileage will slow back down to 10-15 miles/day through the Sierras. After hikers enter Oregon and Washington, upwards of 30 miles a day isn't uncommon. It sounds like a lot (and I suppose it IS a lot), but when considering the fact that my only "job" all day, every day, will be hiking...it puts a different perspective on it. Even if we're only hiking at the leisurely pace of 2 miles/hour, we'd get 20 miles done in 10 hours. When I think about the hours I spent working and commuting...10 hours is nothing!
  • How much food do you have to carry at once? How will you get more? The easiest way to think about the PCT is as a series of back-to-back hikes, as opposed to a 5-6 month long nonstop journey. Once every 4-7 days, the trail nears towns where hikers can resupply. There are a few different ways people manage their resupply on the trail. The first is to package food ahead of time and mail it to post offices or other places of business that accept hiker packages along the trail. The benefit of this strategy is that it can help save money by purchasing in bulk ahead of time, and can also save time in town - if you have your food already packed and shipped, it's less time you have to spend shopping and resupplying. Some time in town is dedicated to chores (laundry, etc.), so extra time to relax or catch up with folks back home is a benefit. Alternatively, others simply resupply in town - shopping at the local convenience or, if you're lucky, grocery store to resupply food for the coming week. While this can be a bit more costly, many previous hikers stress that their eating habits and cravings changed significantly after beginning the trail. Buying as you go ensures that you get what you want! (albeit sometimes from a more limited selection) I've read many stories about hikers who mailed themselves food for the whole trail, and were so sick of some/part of their planned diet a few hundred miles in, they wound up giving away everything and resupplying in town after all. For those reasons, we're employing a little bit of both strategies. We'll mail food to ourselves in places where resupply options are limited. We've also purchased our first few weeks of meals in advance. However, much of what we eat will be purchased in towns as we go.
  • What is a bounce box? A bounce box is a box of goods that are needed only in town - hikers mail (bounce) it to themselves in advance, so they don't have to carry things they won't need on the trail but will appreciate in town. Examples of items that are typically found in a bounce box include the next section of maps/guidebook, a change of clothes for laundry, batteries, more sunblock (to refill small containers), a razor, etc. 
  • What is a trail angel? To date, the most amazing part of the trail I've learned about is the existence of people called trail angels, and the "trail magic" they provide. Trail angels are everyday people who volunteer to help hikers along their journey. Some trail angels have previously hiked the trail, others have family members who have hiked, and still others simply know of the trail and want to help hikers reach their goal. Support comes in many forms - from filling water caches with liters of water along the dry stretches of the trail, to setting up camp along the trail and offering food and beverages to hikers passing by, to offering rides to hikers from the trail to towns, to even opening up their homes to hikers for a night of rest and dinner. Not having thru-hiked before, and living in a big city for the past 5 years since graduating college, it's a pretty wild concept to wrap my mind around. They seem like pretty amazing people. 
  • What is a day zero? A day zero is essentially a day off - a day spent hiking zero miles! A day zero typically happens in a town close to the trail, and gives hikers the opportunity to shower, do laundry, catch up on correspondence, resupply, and sleep in a real bed. A "near-0" is similar, but usually means spending a day in town and then hitting the trail instead of staying overnight, hence the near zero miles for the day.
  • Will I hear from you while you're gone? Only if you want to! I'll be updating this blog as often as I can (at least once a week, hopefully more). Additionally, we will be carrying a DeLorme inReach device which will allow us to update Facebook and Twitter (you can follow us at BE_Ventures). If you're ever bored at work and interested in seeing where on the trail we are, the DeLorme also has a feature that allows you to check our progress on the trail in real time. Pretty awesome, right? Let me know if you want me to email you the link!
  • Can I send you mail or a care package? Wow, thanks for asking! How did you know I'd absolutely love to hear from you while I'm gone? (I do realize that it is totally gratuitous to include this on the FAQs...but people really have asked! And, I apparently have no shame...) If you're interested in sending us a letter or care package, check the contact me page in the blog above for information on where we'll be, expected arrivals, and locations to send mail.

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