Results 1 to 15 of 15
  1. #1
    Registered User Wolf - 23000's Avatar
    Join Date
    07-16-2005
    Location
    Fairfax,VA
    Age
    45
    Posts
    1,158
    Images
    10

    Default Thru hiking in the 1990 and now

    I just came off the PCT to do a quick weeklong hike. It was my first time being back in 15 long years. I had a great time but what I also notice is how much the definition of a wilderness experience has change. Iíll explain. As I hiked along the trail there are now planned water caches all along the desert section. There is no longer a need to plan where you will be able to pick up water in a stream or spring because it has already been done for the hikers.

    There are now apps on your phone that will give you the complete data of the trail and a map of where you are. If you spend a few bucks, you can even find out the status of the water sources.

    Technology is good but it also has a down side. Many of us old times might be accustomed to getting the weather by feeling the front come in, the clouds in the sky or other signs - signs that have helped me several times. Now it is whatís the weather man reports. Many of the hikers can not build a fire if needed or read a map/compass. I had to explain to a triple crowner that no you donít to carry a large pack and still be prepared just by having basic wilderness skills.

    So what do others think?

    Wolf

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    12-31-2009
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Age
    36
    Posts
    4,276
    Images
    17

    Default

    It can be as much of a wilderness experience as you make it. Much of the PCT only provides the illusion of being remote anyway since you can often see civilization by climbing to the other side of the ridge and actually get to a house or store by scampering a few miles off trail.

    The biggest downside to technology is the weight. The phone only weighs a few ounces. You can hardly notice a few ounces, right? The waterproof shock case is a bit heavy at half a pound, but that's nothing compared to everything else. The external battery is but a few ounces more. It's barely noticeable. That solar charger only adds a few more ounces to that. The charger only weighs a couple ounces. Since you have all that, adding an ebook reader won't make much of a difference. Before long you're over a pound and climbing.

  3. #3

    Default

    The PCT can be as wild or civilized as you make it. You can still hike it like it was back then if you want. The water reports and caches just make it easier. In 2009, I found that the water caches weren't necessary, but rather just allowed me to be lazy and not have to go to some off trail water sources. It also took the guess work out about sources between a wet and dry year.

    I didn't use a GPS but carried a compass and better maps then the wilderness press guides provide (they suck) as I like looking at maps and figuring out where I am on them. I did use my compass a few times on my hike. For me, my smartphone was there to make it easier to type up my journal and post online while on the trail. I only used the phone part near or in town to meet up wih other hikers (to save money on hotel rooms) and arrange for a box to be sent from home; meaning it was mostly turned off. It wasn't necessary to have, but public pay phones are hard to find, so having one made it easier to tell love ones "I'm alive".

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf - 23000 View Post
    It was my first time being back in 15 long years. I had a great time but what I also notice is how much the definition of a wilderness experience has change.
    Wolf
    The OP has a point. And so do the other posters when they say, "you can make your hike as wild as you want" (paraphrased). But it's getting harder and harder by the year. I've never been on the PCT, but I can relate to the OP's point from my experience thru-hiking the state of Maine on the AT back in 1981 and comparing it to today.

    You can make a hike as wild as you want, but you still must pass all the build up and people talking on phones or using various types technology. Then you got the feeds at virtually every road crossing and all the signs of water and "trail magic"

    So one can only wonder how difficult it will be to keep the "wild" in your hike in the future.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    12-31-2009
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Age
    36
    Posts
    4,276
    Images
    17

    Default

    Starting earlier can help you avoid the trail magic and the crowd.

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by leaftye View Post
    Starting earlier can help you avoid the trail magic and the crowd.
    True, as can starting latter.

    I started a little early on my hike but got off for 3 weeks due to injury near Idyllwild so was behind the herd for the rest of the journey. The Saufley's of Aqua Dulce can have more than 50 hikers there during the herd, I saw 6 (4 of whom were talking about flipping up further north to catch up to the herd). I left Kennedy Meadows for the High Sierra on June 24th and arrived in Canada on Oct 2 in snow. I often hiked alone (though I caught the back of the pack in NoCAL so it was more by choice after that) and I found many of the trail magic coolers empty or even gone; though there were some notable exceptions.

  7. #7

    Default

    No sense fighting, nor blaming technology for advances in any endeavor.
    If you want a wilderness hike, there are still many trails in the world that have very few people.
    If you don't want to use a GPS, phone, guidebooks or maps, or even a trail, that's up to you.

    Who's to say that ordering pizza and having it delivered to a road crossing is a bad thing? Perhaps only those who don't do it.

    I too drank some very bad water on my first PCT hike and would gladly trade it for bottled water someone angle'd for me.

    I've found that going out into the jungle, and bushwhacking my way through on a route I created from my computer, can be the most rewarding and interesting hiking on the planet. Could I do it without a GPS? Probably. Would I do it without having my phone handy for that emergency call when I got shot, bitten or fell off a cliff? Probably (although my wife would do her best not to let me) Since there are not even any decent topo maps available, other than google earth where I do this, it'd probably not even happen without the advanced technology I use that makes it possible.

    But, yeah, you could still go out and try, with only your waistbelt pack and bivy.
    I imagine some of the guys that were on the Lewis and Clark expedition preferred no maps or knowledge of where they were going.
    Amazingly none of them were killed doing it.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    12-31-2009
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Age
    36
    Posts
    4,276
    Images
    17

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fiddlehead View Post
    I imagine some of the guys that were on the Lewis and Clark expedition preferred no maps or knowledge of where they were going.
    Amazingly none of them were killed doing it.
    I suppose you're right in that none of them were killed doing the expedition, but two of them were shot to death (probably Indians) after they left the expedition because they were scared to go through a section of especially bad rapids.

    They didn't just wing their location. They did a lot of navigation.

    Some of the early naturalists and "naturalists" were incredibly good at route finding and regrouping in far away locations. Those guys put me to shame in a big way as I rarely get to the next trail town when I predicted...at best within a few hours.

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    10-23-2006
    Location
    Belfast, ME
    Age
    30
    Posts
    133

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by leaftye View Post
    Starting earlier can help you avoid the trail magic and the crowd.
    Or Southbound. For both the AT and PCT, as both trails become more popular, hikers will have to adapt to that popularity in order to find the kind of solitude that was easily found even a decade ago. Basically, the two options that I see are either hiking differently than most people, or finding new places to hike (and I don't mean that in a snarky or disrespectful way). You can avoid almost all the crowds on the AT by starting in February or January (I did that, and never saw a full shelter, nor much trail magic), and you could probably avoid a lot of crowds on the PCT by starting in March. You'd end up having a much more adventurous hike, too, because of the weather and snow conditions.

    The AT and PCT are wildly popular trails, and they'll probably continue to get more crowded with different kinds of hikers. But the nice thing is that almost all of those crowds stick to the main trails, and don't branch out all that much. There are thousands of miles of other trails that you can turn into long backpacking trips that connect or come near the PCT. Then there are the less established or less popular long trails-- Pacific Northwest, Hayduke, Arizona, Continental Divide, Long Path, International AT, Great Divide... the list goes on. And I can almost guarantee you won't see the same kind of crowds out there.
    Guthook Hikes! Ė Blog and iPhone Apps

  10. #10
    Garlic
    Join Date
    10-15-2008
    Location
    Golden, CO
    Age
    57
    Posts
    4,131
    Images
    2

    Default

    I had an experience when I hiked the PNT and joined the PCT for a few miles. I thought it was going to be fun hiking part of the PCT again, but I was wrong. In the few PCT miles I hiked in the North Cascades, I saw eroded trail, trashed campsites, and toilet paper in the bushes visible from the trail. This was after hundreds of miles of basically nothing, often not even a trail. It was sort of a relief to leave the PCT, after looking forward to it for 700 miles. Shortly after that I hiked the Arizona Trail, another pretty wild one. It's easy enough to find wild terrain to hike if you want. I think Andrew Skurka put it well when he said that a wilderness experience doesn't have a guidebook written by Yogi.

    Later that same day on the PCT, I camped above Ross Lake and wrote this in my journal: "Several backpackers came up from Ross Lake just before dark, and I'm having fun watching them play with all their REI toys, comparing stoves, filters, fuels, coffee presses, altimeters, GPSs, multitools, halogen headlamps, thermarests, etc. I could not join in because either I don't own any of that stuff or don't know anything about it. They must wonder about me, the poor quiet guy without any toys."
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  11. #11

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by garlic08 View Post
    I had an experience when I hiked the PNT and joined the PCT for a few miles. I thought it was going to be fun hiking part of the PCT again, but I was wrong. In the few PCT miles I hiked in the North Cascades, I saw eroded trail, trashed campsites, and toilet paper in the bushes visible from the trail. This was after hundreds of miles of basically nothing, often not even a trail. It was sort of a relief to leave the PCT, after looking forward to it for 700 miles. Shortly after that I hiked the Arizona Trail, another pretty wild one. It's easy enough to find wild terrain to hike if you want. I think Andrew Skurka put it well when he said that a wilderness experience doesn't have a guidebook written by Yogi.

    Later that same day on the PCT, I camped above Ross Lake and wrote this in my journal: "Several backpackers came up from Ross Lake just before dark, and I'm having fun watching them play with all their REI toys, comparing stoves, filters, fuels, coffee presses, altimeters, GPSs, multitools, halogen headlamps, thermarests, etc. I could not join in because either I don't own any of that stuff or don't know anything about it. They must wonder about me, the poor quiet guy without any toys."


    Very nice garlic, well said!

    geek

  12. #12

    Default

    Some of the most solitude I've had was in the East. The northern portion of the Long Trail had relatively few people. More recently, my time on the BMT (2009) had me seeing hardly any people. I saw six backpackers in 300 miles. Three of those backpackers were on my last day.

    As Guthook stated, just do trails off the beaten path.... or, like Garlic, no path at all.

    When I did a solo trek in the San Juans last year I cobbled together my own route that took in existing trails, jeep roads, the CT/CDT, old mining trails and cross country. The most people I saw? On the CT/CDT. Cross-country? Not a soul.

    I loved my time on "Big Three". With the possible exception of the CDT, I could not see me doing those trails again. Other trails have more solitude, more of a wild feel and speak more to me at this point in my life.
    Paul "Mags" Magnanti
    http://pmags.com
    Twitter: @pmagsco
    Facebook: pmags

    The true harvest of my life is intangible...a little stardust caught,a portion of the rainbow I have clutched -Thoreau

  13. #13

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf - 23000 View Post
    I just came off the PCT to do a quick weeklong hike. It was my first time being back in 15 long years. I had a great time but what I also notice is how much the definition of a wilderness experience has change. Iíll explain. As I hiked along the trail there are now planned water caches all along the desert section. There is no longer a need to plan where you will be able to pick up water in a stream or spring because it has already been done for the hikers.

    There are now apps on your phone that will give you the complete data of the trail and a map of where you are. If you spend a few bucks, you can even find out the status of the water sources.

    Technology is good but it also has a down side. Many of us old times might be accustomed to getting the weather by feeling the front come in, the clouds in the sky or other signs - signs that have helped me several times. Now it is whatís the weather man reports. Many of the hikers can not build a fire if needed or read a map/compass. I had to explain to a triple crowner that no you donít to carry a large pack and still be prepared just by having basic wilderness skills.

    So what do others think?

    Wolf
    It was greet meeting you Wolf, I enjoyed talking with you and I was very impressed with your knowledge of hiking and your overall backpacking philosophy. I'll be the first to admit that I am a city-boy at heart (despite being a triple crowner) and have only recently started to learn all of the wilderness skills (basic and otherwise) need to be safe in all conditions with minimal gear. However, I would like to point out that you're probably one of only a few people that would consider my 8 pound base pack weight "large"!

    I hope I run into you again on the trail some day - Don't Panic

  14. #14
    Registered User Wolf - 23000's Avatar
    Join Date
    07-16-2005
    Location
    Fairfax,VA
    Age
    45
    Posts
    1,158
    Images
    10

    Default

    As some hikers have brought up, technology is here to stay but as the available technology goes up, hikers’ wilderness skills seem to go down. Many long distance hikers would have a hard time if they had to rely on a map and compass to hike any distance cross-country. There are many places in my hiking career that I had to heavy depend on my wilderness skills to complete a trail or in a few cases survive.

    As leaftye pointed out, the more technology someone uses is more weight hikers will be carrying (something I try to avoid). The more items someone add to their pack, is that much more of a civilize hike they can expect and that much more away from a more natural experience they will have. I personal hate walking pass a crowd of people that just want to talk on their cell phones.
    I know I am old school, but if I’m going out to enter nature – my goal is to have it as natural experience as possible.

    Wolf

  15. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    04-01-2006
    Location
    Sturgis, SD
    Age
    51
    Posts
    3,558
    Images
    125

    Default

    Like life in general life on the trail has changed a lot. Just the internet alone has changed planning dramaticly. When I did my thru of AT & First attemt of PCT it was before internet use was widespread. About the only gear review was Backpacker Magazine's annual issue. From there it was get multitudes of catalogs & make your choice. Finding another thru-hiker was almost impossible to ask advice from. In 95 only gyide options for PCT was WP boos & Ray Jardine's guide, no databook or town guide. No water caches in dry parts.

    Now we can use google earth to research towns & do virtual walk down trail towns & make choices. I 95 manny PCT Hikers skipped the Sierrias because it was such a bad snow year. Now you can monitor the snowpack via the net. Jumpstart became a legend on the AT by ordering a pizza at Beauty Spot using a cell phone. Now it's rare for a hiker not to have one. Resupply on AT for me was about 7 days on average. Now four days seems like a streach from most of the journals I read. Even the PCT is becoming more domesticated. In 95 a dozen hikers in a trail town was a huge number. I met most of the hikers on the trail that year & could tell who was in front by their tracks.

    So yes, things have changed a lot!

++ New Posts ++

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •