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  1. #1
    Registered User Nanatuk's Avatar
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    Default The PCT in sections

    I'm starting to form a plan to tackle the PCT in three sections. I originally wanted to do it all in one go, but over the last few months realized that I really don't care that its all on one go. Walking the entire PCT is the goal, everything else is for just braggin rights.

    Splitting it up this way helps me fulfill my family obligations which would be a real issue if I tried to do the whole thing in one push. Also has the advantage of doing each section in the best weather, especially avoiding the snow in the Sierra.

    My tentative plan:

    1. Oregon and Washington: Dunsmuir CA first week of August 2019 hiking North to Canada finishing first/second week of October.

    2. Desert section: Mexico Border late March of 2020 North to Kennedy Meadows end of April.

    3. Sierra: Dunsmuir CA Mid August 2020 South to Kennedy Meadows by Mid October

    Lots of other trailheads as options if something comes up.

    Thoughts, options, modifications, concerns?

  2. #2
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    Default

    I am on a 5 year plan for completing the PCT and only have Washington left to complete it. But, I am under the impression that you want to be to Canada about 1 month earlier than what you have planned. Other, more authoritative voices, should chime in and I am interested in seeing the responses.
    Lonehiker

  3. #3
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    Hello Nanatuck,

    I am on about a ten year plan for the PCT, I am 4 years in and 1000 miles down.

    I agree above that you are taking chances going through the Cascades that late in the season and that you might want to move it up a bit. Keep in mind I have not been there yet, I am still working on California.
    “For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
    the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


    John Greenleaf Whittier

  4. #4

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    Finishing up at the CAN border NOBO first/second wk of Oct is OK. Great time in lower BC and Vancouver CAN.

    3. Sierra: Dunsmuir CA Mid August 2020 South to Kennedy Meadows by Mid October - Sweat fest, could run into fire closures. I suppose you mean lower KM?

  5. #5
    Registered User Nanatuk's Avatar
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    Yes, lower Kennedy Meadows would be where I finish leg 2 and 3. Do you think it would be cooler doing leg 3 NOBO?

    Thanks for the responses. I've read a bunch of trail journals and articles and it sounds like September is historically snow free in Washington. Once your into October the chances of a snow storm increase. I'm going to be watching weather reports this fall and see what the first two weeks weather look like. A little snow is ok, getting a couple of feet first week of October would make me consider other options.

    The earliest I can start next year is Aug 6 or 7th so if the snow looks to be an issue in October, I could start at Ashland and finish at the end of September.

  6. #6

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    1) Most years, you can finish in Canada in that time frame just fine. But occasionally the snow gets too deep. Be prepared if winter comes early to bail out.
    2) If SoCal has a big snow year then you may have to accept hiking around a few sections of trail to avoid snow in steep terrain. Your time frame listed seems a little shorter than the typical 6 weeks many, much younger, hikers do. Did you mean finishing May and not April?
    3) You'll definitely avoid the bugs. NorCal in the late summer does tend towards forest fires and it seems the central part also in more recent years. Hiking the Sierra in Fall is great. However, any hiking past the 1st week on October, risks big winter storms; the likelyhood of them goes up the later it is in the month. I hiked the JMT portion again last fall, and other than some snow to start with in late September, had great weather till I finished on Oct. 6th, but a big storm did come in during the following week. The Aspen fall colors in the valleys were gorgeous.

  7. #7
    Registered User Nanatuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miner View Post
    2) If SoCal has a big snow year then you may have to accept hiking around a few sections of trail to avoid snow in steep terrain. Your time frame listed seems a little shorter than the typical 6 weeks many, much younger, hikers do. Did you mean finishing May and not April?
    I been looking at starting the mid march (16th) and finishing end of April which would be six weeks. I'm using Postholers planners set to average walking style. I'd like to start later, but not sure how I'll fair in the start date lottery for thru hikers that limits starters to 30 a day. I might end up having to start at the beginning of March and if I run into snow, wait it out. I'm in no rush for this leg.

  8. #8
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanatuk View Post
    I been looking at starting the mid march (16th) and finishing end of April which would be six weeks. I'm using Postholers planners set to average walking style. I'd like to start later, but not sure how I'll fair in the start date lottery for thru hikers that limits starters to 30 a day. I might end up having to start at the beginning of March and if I run into snow, wait it out. I'm in no rush for this leg.
    I don't want to start any nasty arguments, but it turns out you don't need a permit to hike the PCT from the Mexican border to Kennedy meadows. You can legally hike this section w/o a permit. BUT, this would very slightly restrict your legal camp choices in the first 50 miles of trail, basically you cannot "disperse camp" but that's it. Easy to comply with as there are plenty of established camp sites, perfectly legal to use w/o permits.

    Link:

    https://www.postholer.com/forum/view...php?f=2&t=2966

    I was set up to do exactly this this last late-March, then out of the blue, a full pct permit slot opened up and I snagged it.

    And of course, you would need a permit further north on the trail, but it also turns out these are easy to get, as I snagged one for my wife (permit for Acton to Canada) online.

    BTW, and for what it's worth, I'm essentially doing pretty much exactly your scheme, in 2018-2019, though the original plan was to try to do it in two big chunks. This year's big wildfire situation has dissuaded me from the original plan.

  9. #9
    Registered User Nanatuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    I'm essentially doing pretty much exactly your scheme, in 2018-2019, though the original plan was to try to do it in two big chunks. This year's big wildfire situation has dissuaded me from the original plan.
    Thanks for the tip! That gives me lots of flexibility in planning that leg. Enjoy your hike.

  10. #10
    Registered User Nanatuk's Avatar
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    My plan is still fluid, but solidifying. I have started a PCT journal. I'm concentrating on OR/WA planning and have moved up the start date to mid July 2019 so I can be sure to finish before the snows. for training, I'm planning another 3 days on the Kettle Moraine this fall, and a week next spring on the AT in Virginia with my brother, as well as weekly hikes. There is lots to do to prepare for retirement as well so a flurry of activity this fall.

    I'm excited!

  11. #11

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    I think big sections is the best way to do it and still have that thru-hiking experience. When I did my own big sections, I did Dunsmuir to Canada starting July 3 and ending August 31. It was perfect, except for the hoards of mosquitoes the entire month I was in Oregon.

    I have heard that you do need a PCT permit to start at the Mexican border but only if you plan to hike more than 500 miles. I did a section from the border to Cabazon without a permit. I was informed later I wasn't allowed to start at the border but should have started at Boulder Oaks. All this seems silly. How does anyone really know how far they'll go? In any case, when I got to San Jacinto State Park/Wilderness I stopped into Idyllwild to get a permit. It was a weird year where much of the approach to Idyllwild was closed, but in a normal year you could hitch from Paradise Cafe to Idyllwild and get a walk-in permit. You'd have a better sense of your timing then.
    Some knew me as Piper, others as just Diane.
    I hiked the PCT: Mexico to Mt. Shasta, 2008. Santa Barbara to Canada, 2009.

  12. #12
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    I hiked from the Mexican border through the Sierra in 2015, which was initially planned to be a thru hike. I started April 12 and did not find the desert and Southern California sections uncomfortable at all. I think that people are starting earlier and earlier due to the permit system but a mid April start is perfectly fine weather wise. In fact, I would probably start May 1 to avoid getting to Kennedy Meadows too soon. No matter what you do, however, hiking the So Cal section in the spring is going to be crowded and it'll be competitive to get permits. For that reason, perhaps consider doing that section in the fall instead when you'll have SoBo thru hikers for company. Like you, I find family commitments make it hard to be away for long periods of time. I aspire to thru hike the long trails at some point but it may not be for another decade. So doing sections in the interim is a good choice in this type of situation, keeping me in the game and active for now, as I hope to still be in shape to thru hike long trails a decade from now when I'm in my mid-50s.

  13. #13
    Registered User Nanatuk's Avatar
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    Thanks for resurrecting this thread. Good timing!! I'm officially retired tomorrow. We drive to California in two weeks for a family wedding. I have a month out there to train and get my resupply packages together then hit the trail mid July.

    Like sbhikes, I'm starting in Dunsmuir July 12th and hiking to Manning park, Canada by mid September.

    I'm excited!! Can't wait!!
    Last edited by Nanatuk; 05-30-2019 at 14:00.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanatuk View Post
    ... I'm starting in Dunsmuir July 12th and hiking to Manning park, Canada by mid September.

    I'm excited!! Can't wait!!
    Very cool. I think it's wise to reach the Canada Border before October.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanatuk View Post
    Thanks for resurrecting this thread. Good timing!! I'm officially retired tomorrow. We drive to California in two weeks for a family wedding. I have a month out there to train and get my resupply packages together then hit the trail mid July.

    Like sbhikes, I'm starting in Dunsmuir July 12th and hiking to Manning park, Canada by mid September.

    I'm excited!! Can't wait!!
    I was just daydreaming about my trip when I thought I'd come to whiteblaze and see if there were any replies to this thread. I'm so jealous of you! It's so weird, too, I had such a horrible time in those Oregon mosquitoes but I look back on those days as some of my fondest memories from the trail, some of my best memories of my whole life. Have a great time!
    Some knew me as Piper, others as just Diane.
    I hiked the PCT: Mexico to Mt. Shasta, 2008. Santa Barbara to Canada, 2009.

  16. #16
    Registered User Nanatuk's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies, I guess its time to hike. I get on the train Thursday and start hiking Friday morning.

  17. #17
    Registered User Nanatuk's Avatar
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    Alrighty then...
    I completed 930 miles of NorCal, Oregon and Washington this year but fell short of reaching the Canadian border due to an injury. I'm pretty well healed up now and I'm starting to plan my 2020 hike from Campo to Kennedy Meadows south this spring. I hope to go back and pick up the last 230 miles of Washington state in September of this year.

    Resupply strategy:
    I think I'm only going to have one package sent to Warner Springs PO and buy supplies on the trail the rest of the way.

    Equipment changes:
    Lighter stove, zip off pants, bigger brimmed hat. Ankle brace to reinforce the injured ankle.

    I'm going to apply for a long distance permit in January, but I should be able to legally hike this section even if I don't get one. Looks like the only place a permit would be handy is for dispersed camping in Cleveland NF.

    Anybody know how to get from San Diego Amtrak station to Campo?

  18. #18
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanatuk View Post
    Anybody know how to get from San Diego Amtrak station to Campo?
    I've been doing a lot of research on the PCT since I'll be doing a LASH starting April 9th next year (got my permit already). There are a couple of ways to get to Campo from San Diego. You can Uber of course, but that will be expensive. You can take advantage of Scout's and Frodo's generosity and get a ride. Check out their website here. Last, you can take a MTS bus from El Cajon. They run weekdays only. You can check out the bus schedule here.

    I'm not sure what I'm doing yet. Frodo and Scout sound like a great deal, but they are always full at the beginning of hiker season, and I envision a zoo at their house, so maybe I won't try for a spot there. I'll probably fly in from Florida and spend a day looking around SD and then take a bus to Campo to begin my hike on April 9th. I'm not thrilled with the bus prospect because time-wise, it's a long ride and cuts way into the first day's hike. What I really want to do is get an Uber if I can find some other hikers to share the cost.

    Hope this helps.
    Trail Name - Slapshot
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  19. #19
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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  20. #20

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    Yes, definitely do it in sections. I hiked SOBO in WA Section K in Aug-Sept and passed 300-400 thru hikers. The majority were jaded and negative at that point (many just had their head down and didn't want to talk to anyone). A few, often the older hikers, were friendly; I asked one if he would do it again and he just said "probably not". Others said that they had got what they wanted out of it but 'there was just no way that they were stopping', one said it was sort of like being in jail, trapped, unable to leave even though you don't want to be there.

    The happiest 'thru hikers' that I met said that they took a lot of long breaks (weeks if not months).... which makes them in reality ... wait for it..... section hikers.


    There are those who do it right, but IMO most thru hikes are social, emotional, and ethical disasters. The thrill is gone about half way thru. Then after you finish you find out that nobody really cares about your "bragging rights". Be honest with yourself, dudes, don't live a lie. Get off the trail until you ethically deserve to be there again...
    Last edited by RockDoc; 11-26-2019 at 21:46.

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