The first major hurdle in preparing for the Pacific Crest Trail for me has been scheduling the entire six month hike from mid April to early October, at an average of 16 miles per day. For any who have read about the trail, or who have hiked it themselves, they know that an April start is necessary, as it provides hikers with just enough spring to avoid the heat of the desert, but a late enough arrival in Kennedy Meadows to allow me to miss the heavy snow that blankets the High Sierras in May and early June.
The October finish was likewise pretty set in stone, as the winter weather that hits the North Cascades in late October creates wildly unsafe conditions for anyone attempting a through hike. That left me a target window between October 1st and October 15, which I determined to be the absolute latest I could feasibly complete the trail.
I set April 15th as my primary hiking date for a few reasons, but the main one, the real one, is that it is the anniversary of one of the turning points in my life, the death of my best friend, an impetus for seeking solitude in the outdoors. Aside from that fact, April has always been an important month for me, I moved to New Zealand in April, I got my knee repaired in April, I finished my Graduate Thesis in April. It only makes sense to tackle the biggest challenge of my life in April.
The first few times I attempted to schedule my hike, I went far too long and ended up with an arrival date well into November, a sure fire recipe for failure. I know my limits as a hiker, and know that 16 miles is attainable (I’ve averaged as much my last three big training hikes, so set that number as a baseline for my daily average. I cut down on rest days and scheduled heavier mileage in Oregon, where the relatively flat conditions will allow me to extend my days.
I’m confident in the schedule, and hope that I haven’t overlooked anything as I move forward preparing resupply packages and food/gear partitioning for the different legs of the trail.
Here are som highlighted dates thatbI am targeting, and places I’m excited to travel through as I make my way north:
April 15: I step foot onto the PCT
April 26: Summit Mt. San Jacinto
May 2nd: Rest day in Big Bear, CA
May 11th: Summit Mt. Baden Powell
May 16th: Vasquez Rocks
June 1st: Rest Day in Kennedy Meadows
June 6th: Summit Mt. Whitney
June 7th: Cross Forester Pass
June 14th: Evolution Basin
June 21st: My Birthday as I arrive in Yosemite
July 4th: Fourth of July in Lake Tahoe
July 23rd: Rest Day in Lassen National Park
July 28th: Burney Falls State Park
August 2nd: Castle Crags State Park
August 13th: Oregon Border
August 16th: Rest Day in Ashland, Or
August 22nd: Rest Day at Crater Lake National Park
September 9th: Washington border/Rest Day in Portland, Or
September 17th: Goat Rocks Wilderness
September 26th: Rest Day in Seattle, Wa
October 9th: Finish the PCT!
Obviously even the best laid plans mean nothing when the bullets start to fly, but I feel this is as solid and attainable of a schedule as I can make ahead of time. I will post the full schedule as weeks go on, and I add all the information I’ll be researching to make each day as painless as possible.
Until, then, back to work, April 15th is getting closer every day.