View Full Version : Pnt/pct

The Solemates
10-11-2004, 14:33
We are wanting to do another thru-hike sometime around 2006. At first, we thought we wanted to do the PCT, but have problems with leaving in April. Later in the summer would be better for us. I guess we could somehow get around that, but lately we have been looking at the PNT (Pacific Northwest Trail). Any comments on this trail? We have heard that even though it is only 1200 miles in length, it takes a considerable amount of time to orienteer your way through the trail. Is this trail comfortably feasible to hike in 3 months? (PS-It took us 5 mos. exactly to do the AT).

10-11-2004, 15:10
The PNT is on my short list of possible activities next summer. I would suspect that 2 months would be adequate for me, probably 1.5. Linked off the main PNTA page is a trail journal for a thruhiker pair from this summer, and you might find that interesting.

In terms of the PCT, leaving in April is not necessary or even desireable, although most people leave the last weekend in April. Personally, I think that a mid-May start is better. Barring injury, it takes roughly a month to reach the Sierra Nevada (700 miles). That isn't just me. I think most people get there in around 30-40 days. If you leave in April, you get to the Sierra in late May or early June. Then, you sit and sit and wait for the snow to melt if it is an average year, or you suffer a lot and force things. If you are careful and good on snow, you can push through.

However, if you leave in mid May, then you get to the Sierra in mid-late June and the snow conditions are much better. It really isn't any hotter with the late start, and water cachers tend to keep the big caches open until late in the summer. Also, by not starting with everyone, there is a more open, wild feel to the lands.

Will Tarantino, Birdie, Glory, and myself all started on the 9th or 10th of May. Will finished August 16, Birdie and I on the 21. Glory a little while later. Tha Wookie started even later (18th?) and finished in a heap of snow. From what I've heard of the PNT, it might be a little much to tackle after the AT. If I had not done the PCT, the GDT would have been very hard indeed. Not just the route finding, but also the total and complete lack of a trail culture and the remoteness. I'm not saying that it wouldn't be a great experience, but the lack of developed trail makes it several leaps and bounds beyond the AT and you must take that into consideration.

The Solemates
10-11-2004, 17:04
Im not so worried about the lack of trail culture. We left Springer Feb 1 and didnt really see anyone for 2 months. Plus, my wife and I are going together and we love to be alone together. Its the route finding that concerns me. I know we can handle it, but we (I) may get frustrated in not making the miles because I have to stop and pull out map and compass every hour.

10-11-2004, 19:59
If the PNT is anything like the GDT, the map and compass will almost always be out. Also, if the two trails are similar, by lack of trail culture, I mean a complete lack: Few people, even in the close by towns, will know about the trail. Rangers will have no idea where you are trying to go. No one will be around to tell you if the forest fire from last year destroyed segment X. Will the post office know what to do with your General Delivery package? Where can you get water in the desert sections? Even though you only saw a few other thruhikers on the AT, you still saw people and knew they were there. It will probably be the case that only one or two other hikers will be out there, and these may be weeks ahead or behind. On the AT, there is a certain comfort level. When in Hot Springs, Elmers is there. Miss Janet is in Erwin. The Place in Damascus. People who know the trail and the area and can and do help selflessly. Resources, in short, given in a kind and loving manne, and at known pointsr. This isn't to say that it won't be there on the PNT, but you can't plan on it, expect it, or even know when it might come.

Another thing that you will need to deal with is river fords. Rivers are big and serious in the west, although the PNT crosses a large dry area in western WA. Bridges may not be in place, or perhaps never were there. For example, the Flathead river, right at the start, swollen by snow melt. Fords are probably the most dangerous aspect. Also, when you get to the coast, you need to deal with tide-table hiking.

Now, the PNT is really attractive to me. All of what may seem as a negative above is really a positive for me and a reason to go out there. Map, compass, head scratching, dead reckoning in the woods, off trail ridgewalking in the alpine, unknown towns, an open and undeveloped path. No white blazes, blue blazes, yellow blazes. No blazes of any kind to tell you where to go. The GDT has this in spades, and I think the PNT has it as well, which is why it is on the short list.

Pencil Pusher
10-17-2004, 18:03
So it sounds like planning for this PNT would be more along the lines of the CDT. Admittedly, I never head of the PNT until I read this thread. Well others have done it, so you can too. Have fun.