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shaggy2004
02-11-2006, 15:07
Well, I'm posting for two reasons: one, and I am not proud of this, is I thought it would be cool to start the first thread in this new forums section; and two I really am curious about this. Ok, so here is the question. This is to people who have hiked (either thru-hiked, or long sections) both the PCT and the AT. I've heard that the PCT is a lot easier hiking than the AT as far as grade and trail condition. To what extent is this the case. I've thru-hiked the AT and was planning a PCT hike for next year and was just wondering what kind of mileage I could expect to make on the PCT. Thanks in advance.

:sun

KotzyMJ
02-11-2006, 15:14
Shag-meister: I think it comes down to this...

KLJCYCRIM-MTASLA:banana

shaggy2004
02-11-2006, 15:15
:datz I appologize for posting this twice. Weird computer difficulties.

Nean
02-11-2006, 15:39
The AT has gotten much easier over the last 15 years but most folks average 5-10 mpd more on the PCT. Trail condition is part of it, but so is your condition.:)

Sly
02-11-2006, 17:48
The hiking may be easier and the mileages are as Nean suggests, but the challenges are more plentiful. Up to 35 miles stretches between natural water sources, hot, dry, desert conditions, exposure, fewer blazes (mostly tree cut), hiking on snowpack, postholing, altitude, and a lot more fording swift, deep and cold streams.

Tha Wookie
02-11-2006, 18:05
The hiking may be easier and the mileages are as Nean suggests, but the challenges are more plentiful. Up to 35 miles stretches between natural water sources, hot, dry, desert conditions, exposure, fewer blazes (mostly tree cut), hiking on snowpack, postholing, altitude, and a lot more fording swift, deep and cold streams.

That's about the same as my take on it.

You have to think of the PCT in completely new terms. The challenges come in different packages.

For instance, you might have a max 10% grade coming doen Mt. San Jacinto, but its about 9,000 feet in 16 miles. Then you are in the desert, where we found temps at the 110F range. The day before, we were in snow! There might not have been rocks and roots in the tread, but there were plently of rattlesnakes.

As a whole, I would say the PCT is more "challenging", in pure terms of dynamic range. But you are far less likely to trip over a root or rock.

Both trails are long distance hiking, but everything else is different. They need to be compared on a more micro level than "harder." Some people have no problem with PUDS, and think the AT is a piece of cake. Others have no problem with carrying two gallons of water, and find the dryness of the PCT not much of a concern.

I suggest reading some journals on the PCT and picking out the obvious differences.

www.trailjournals.com/wookie (http://www.trailjournals.com/wookie)

Cookerhiker
02-11-2006, 21:42
Good timely topic - I'm planning on the JMT this year much of which overlaps the PCT. I've already bought and read one guidebook and noted the numerous references to difficult stream fords. Also it appears that resupplying is more of a challenge.

What about those bearproof containers? Do all PCTers carry them? Are they a pain in the butt (or rather, back)? Re water sources (at least the rushing streams) - do they require treatment?

But it will be nice to not trip over rocks and roots. And I'm looking forward to the spectacular scenery.

Ridge
02-11-2006, 21:55
It's like comparing apples and oranges. I found the PCT more mentally challenging the AT a little more physical.

chris
02-12-2006, 21:11
I find the AT to be more challenging mentally, and the PCT more physically. The lack of water at the start dictates longer days and a lack of trail shelters, along with cooler temps, encourages people to hike into the evening. It is easy to roll up a 20 mile day on the PCT if you spend 12 hours on the trail. You could also easily roll up 20 miles on the AT if you hiked for 12 hours. A few contrasts:

1) Resupply is longer on the PCT, meaning you're carrying more food than normal.

2) For the first 700 miles (and in spots thereafter), you'll have to carry serious water on the PCT (as in up to 2 gallons). On the AT I've never carried more than a liter.

3) The AT has more sharp up and downs, but they don't go on for very long. On the PCT, the grade is gentler, but the climbs and descents can go on forever.

4) The AT is very humid, the PCT very dry. I was almost always wet on the AT, but on the PCT after 20 minutes of resting in the dry air, I was mostly dry.

5) The PCT has real snow to deal with. If you haven't been on snow before, this will present a challenge.

6) I'm told the bugs are worse on the PCT than for NOBO AT hikers, but I didn't experience anything (until Oregon, and then for only a few hundred miles) that I'd call bad.

7) The PCT is almost always drop dead gorgeous. This makes the PCT a bit easier to hike mentally than the AT, where the beauty is in the people, the history, and the culture.

kyhipo
02-12-2006, 22:22
well I just hiked long sections of the pct and got lost the rest of the time,the sierra nevadas are mad crazy when getting lost!I loved it but in retrospect I spent a month in kings canyon and sequioa Nat.park just touring before I ventured up north and in Oregon I went to my kenfolks home near 18 miles outside craterlake,so many lovely places to see!and so many great national forest could just get lost for yrs If one was lucky:D ky,well seeing how I am just a hiker I thought the only thing different in the AT and the pct that I have hiked was the well everything two complete worlds :rolleyes: Not to mention washington state now its got its own world,rain forest,little alpines,the desert,and ofcourse the rainier flu,and the seattles best coffee for the sunshine along pikes place market,crazy place.

calearn
02-12-2006, 22:41
A bear canister through the Sierra is always a hot topic. Many hikers take them and many don't. Every year, some hikers have their food stolen by bears. It is next to impossible to fit all food needed in a bear canister but much food can fit in one.

My take is it is worth the 2 1/2 lbs to follow the regulations, have peace of mind, and not let bears become dependent on human food. But, if you don't take one, then don't cook where you camp and don't stay in established camp sites (unless the site has a fixed bear proof container) and you ‘should’ be OK. Also, if you don’t take one, it doesn’t hurt to know what escape routes are available if you need to find a ‘quick’ way to town because a bear gets all your food.

For how comfortable canisters are, it depends on your pack and how you pack it. They will fit horizontal in many packs and then it depends on the padding between the pack and your back and where they are positioned against the back. It takes trial and error and testing it out.

Many hikers don't treat their water after they get out past the cows a day or two north of Kennedy Meadows. Studies have shown that the water is pure, but there is always a chance that something dead could be around the previous bend in the river so it is a personal preference. There have been hikers who needed to bail at Mammoth because of giardia, and although they likely picked it up before the Sierra, it is impossible to say for sure.

Rivers depend on the time of year. My experience has been that if you are not in the first wave of hikers North, the only river you HAVE to ford (i.e. cannot find another way across) is Evolution Creek and if you cross a ways upriver of the trail crossing, it is very easy (as mentioned in the JMT guidebook).

Of course YMMV and if you are hiking the JMT and not the PCT, the rangers will likely give you an even harder time (or a fine is even possible) for not having a canister.

Mags
02-13-2006, 12:04
The short hand description of the AT vs PCT is that the AT is phyiscall more diffiuclt, logistically easier. The PCT is logistically more difficult and physically easier.

Many people hike with lighter packs on the PCT vs the AT so that may be a large part of the equation. The nicer weather on the western trails (in general) also makes it easier in some ways. But, being able to resupply every 3 days on the AT makes for an easy going too.

Ridge
02-13-2006, 12:43
Not knowing where your next drink of water is coming from can do a number on you mentally. Water rationing is not a fun thing to do. I never worried, or even thought about it, when on the AT. If it wasn't for the water problem the PCT would be better both mentally and physically.

Mountain Mike
04-11-2006, 22:52
As far as hiking in terms of miles a day. PCT is easier when not dealing with snow & fords. If you are thru hiking you will have to deal with it. You can make god MPH over open ground, but having to kick step up a pass is slow!!!

Resupply isn't that bad. Even some the remote sonding places rides are easy to find. Water does take some planning but trail angels are helping in the bad spots.

The big difference is your window of hiking time. Start to early & you hit major snow in the Sierras with dangerous fords. Hit it to late & hit snow in the cascades. Varries yearly. I think all of six people hiked thru the sierras in 95 when I tried my thru hike. Rest of us skipped north or yo-yoed

Also there are no white blazes to follow. I strongly reccomend good map & compass skills. In 95 I would often go for the better part of the day without seeing the trail in the snow covered parts of No California.

If you have any questions feel free to email me mountainsmike@yahoo.com

Sly
04-12-2006, 00:21
If it wasn't for the water problem the PCT would be better both mentally and physically.

Bad attitude.

In southern California and parts of Oregon, there wasn't a water problem, just less of it. It was easy enough to carry the 3-6 liters necessary to get to the next known source according to the PCT databook with it's water alerts (12 miles or more)

Omarwannahike
11-01-2007, 11:42
I find the AT to be more challenging mentally, and the PCT more physically.

7) The PCT is almost always drop dead gorgeous. This makes the PCT a bit easier to hike mentally than the AT, where the beauty is in the people, the history, and the culture.

Besides the actual metrics from people that have hiked both trails. I think that point 7 by Chris wraps it all up neatly for me.