Tips and advices for your hike


Equipment

Hiking shoes / boots

Quantity: I only required two pairs of shoes. The first pair was an excellent European quality (Meindl) and the second one a lower-quality one from the states (Oboz), but still a relatively good quality.

Quality: It turns out, that it's pretty challenging to find high-quality hiking shoes in the states. Some hikers showed me shoes which were only two weeks old, but already falling apart. Hence, I'd recommend to buy shows from European manufacturers (Meindl, Scarpa, etc.) ahead.

Shoes or boots: Most of the PCT hikers had shoes. This also makes sense since the PCT is a relatively easy-to-hike path.

Ultra-lightweight

Some PCT hikers swear on ultra-lightweight backpacking and most of them indeed practice this. However, I also saw other hikers like me who don't really care about the 'ultra' in the Ultra-lightweight too much. I tried to get some lightweight stuff, but also wanted to have a reliable equipment. E.g. backpacks of UL hikers were partly falling apart whereas I could rely on my backpack throughout the entire trip.


Hiking advice

Daily milage

How many miles are hiked on the PCT depends on various things: The weather, the heat, the condition of the hiking path, the water on the way, how many breaks you take. In general, you should be able to hike at least 20 miles per day in order to make a proper through hike.

Nature's challanges: Bears & mountain lions

It's very likely that you will encounter bears and so did I. However, mountain lions encounters are rather rare.

Bear canisters are recommended and also mandatory from Kennedy Meadows on for a few weeks. Most of the PCT hikers don't know that bear canisters is not about their safety, but to teach bears that there's no food to get from humans anymore. Hence, it's not about protecting the PCT hiker by carrying a bear canister, but to prevent bear attacks for the PCT hikers in the followup years. Hence, don't be a dick and use bear canisters! Support other PCT hikers in avoiding bear encounters!

Except in the Yosemite area, bears are typically very afraid of humans and pose no danger at all. So just enjoy seeing them and be happy. So was I when seeing a mother and cub bear.

Nature's challanges: Rattle snakes

You'll probably encounter a bunch of rattle snakes. Besides the ones in the Mojave dessert, they aren't highly aggressive. Simply don't approach or provocate them. Typically they'll start rattling from few meters away which gives you enough safety distance to avoid stepping on them. Obviously, this only works if you don't wear headphones... or at least leave one ear without a headphone. So did I and all other hikers.

Eating and drinking

Resupply

You find various places to resupply on the trail. However, in the first month, they are rather very expensive. Therefore I recommend to send out post packages with resupply to locations in the first 1.5 months.

After the first 1.5 months, I packed and send out packages in off-trail towns Ashland (directly after finishing California) and Portland (directly after finishing Oregon).

I used Craig's PCT Planner to plan my resupply and it worked out pretty well.

Water filter

I started with the MSR hand pump and was more than happy after I got rid of it. I replaced it with a Katadyn "be free" water filtration system with a 3 liter blister. This filters the water like it's running out of a small source. Try to replace your filter cartridge every 3 weeks.

Food

Every PCT hiker is different and it doesn't make too much sense to make suggestions on things to eat. Be aware, that you'll eat much more after the first few weeks.You will hunger a lot if you don't take enough food with you. This is just some inspiration of what I was eating on the trail:

  • Breakfast:
    Cerial bars, breakfast bars, Quaker oatmeal (3 packages)
  • Lunch:
    Tortilla wraps filled with sausage and cheese. Many people wondered if sausage and cheese can last for days in the backpack and the answer is simply: Yes, and cheese is even getting more yummy if it's warm!
  • Dinner:
    Ramembombs (Nissan noodles with mashed Potatoes) or freeze dried "Mountain house". I've tried also different freeze dried packages and most of them were frankly spoken disgusting.
    After the first month I started eating a chocolate bar every evening :-)
  • Snacks during the hike:
    Cerial bars, Cliff bars
Resupply via hitch hiking

Originally I planned to hike the PCT without hitch hiking, not to skip parts of the trail, but to resupply. Then I've changed my mind and figured out that it's a great thing to do to experience towns also off the trail, e.g. Ashland, Portland and Levenworth.

Weed, pills and other helpers

Weed

I saw plenty of hikers smoking weed, most of them quit very soon. No doubt that the massive intake of weed was the reason for that. If you plan to remember this amazing hiking trip, you might want to keep your hands off this stuff...

Pills

If something hurts, your body wants to tell you that something is not OK. Maybe you don't want to take pain killers during the day to make you hike longer than your body wants you to hike. If you can't stand the pain, then you should have a break.

After having some sleepless nights in a row due to burning feet, I decided to take sometimes "Advil MP" in the night after very very long hikes just to get some sleep. I never took painkillers during the day. Be brave, be a PCT hiker!

1st aid kit

I carried a first aid kit with me and I was happy not to require most of the parts in it. Despite this, I'd carry it with me again.

Be prepared for injuries and emergencies. Laziness is no excluse for not carring a first aid kit with you: You'll never know what can suddenly happen.



... more coming soon ...