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Thread: SoBo PCT

  1. #1
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    Default SoBo PCT

    I am considering hiking the PCT in 08 (or if I can save the money fast enough, 07).
    Southbound seems to make more sense to me--I wouldn't have to start until I know that the snow situation is managable, and I wouldn't have to fight the desert during the summer. starting in mid-June, I would have around 3-3.5 months until I was risking heavy snows in the sierras, and would want to be out of them by the end of September. 2000 miles in 3.5 months seems perfectly managable, even comfortable to me, after thru-hiking the AT this last year. I would then have the luxury of taking as much time as i wanted to finish the trail, and even turn back and do some of the sierra again if I had plenty of time.

    Also, if I went SOBO I could possibly hit the trail in '07, and I'd much rather be hiking than working.

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    A SOBO thruhike of the PCT is very rare, but doable. A lot depends on the snow year in Washington and how soon snows come to the Sierra. There will be snow in SoCal (San Gabriels, Bernadinos, Jacintos), but it may not be much of an issue. However, there are a few things to think about:

    1) You'll be alone most the time and there will be no trail culture. While this may seem like a good thing, it is very hard to handle. A little trail culture really adds to the enjoyment of a trip. When I say you'll be alone, I mean just that: Zero thruhikers.

    2) You may have to wait until early July to start. If you've got good snow mountaineering experience, and are committed to bringing in the right gear and spending the time for route finding, you may be able to move this up to early June. This year, I would have advised people to start a SOBO hike July 1. This would give you 3 months to get through the Sierra, though you'll likely be snowed on. Very possible to do this. I thru hiked in 3.5 months, so the 2000 miles or so to Kennedy Meadows is very doable.

    3) SoCal will be dry and burning. Just about every year SoCal goes up in flames around the end of September through November. Water sources are completely dry and people, unless they know you're coming, won't set out caches. You'll be hauling a lot of water and facing the uncertainty of future sources.

    4) SoCal isn't as unbearable as people make it out. It isn't that hot, and there is usually some shade to rest under. It is beautiful in a way that traditional alpine areas are not. In October, it will be brown and dusty. Less appealing, perhaps just as hot.

  3. #3

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    I agree with a few things here. first of all it is definitely better to be hiking than working. 2nd, you won't have too many fellow SOBO's but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just different from the AT for sure.
    The big problem will be snow. You will have to keep an eye on the snow levels in the northwest and expect snow thru june for sure and possibly july (i answered about this in your ice ax question more in detail).
    I think you should be ok in the sierras up until mid oct. ( i did the john muir trail one time in early to mid oct and it was a great time to be there although you should be prepared to get snowed in at that time.)
    The Pct is probably easier to do a northbound. Just the start of a SOBO is not going to be easy. You'll have to find the Mannning Lodge, and the approach trail, then start right out with about 5 days food or more only to get to a road that has nothing there. (not too big a problem as long as you are adventurous in hitchiking) but, then you have another fairly long section coming right up without much in the way of civilization (but that's why you're going, right?)
    Wherein, a NOBO hike puts you close to food, civilization, and perhaps a big party if you plan it right. Chris is right above and the desert is something that can be a beautiful thing providing you know how to find water, hike early and late and not in the middle of the day, and like to sleep out under the stars as well as different animals, plants, everything.
    I went out and did some practice hikes in the AZ desert before my 1st PCT thru and learned a lot about the desert. It is one of my preferred places to hike now providing it is not summer or too hot.
    Anyway, keep researching the pros and cons and it's up to you and your hiking priorities. most importantly, have fun.

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    Where is a good source for information? The only significant experience I have in the outdoors is a pretty standard nobo on the AT and other good-weather trips. I don't know a thing about mountaineering, or the desert, and I won't get a chance to take a practice trip before I hit the trail. I don't know how to find water in the desert, etc.
    One thing the AT taught me was that it is possile to learn skills as you go--but only if you have put yourself into the position to do so by reearching, bringing the proper gear, taking proper saftey precautions, and most importantly respecting the gravity of the position that you put yourself in.
    The only thing I know that I can do form the above is make the miles.
    Thankfully I still have more than a few months to learn what I need to know.

  5. #5

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    Where is a good source for information?
    http://www.pcta.org

    http://mailman.backcountry.net/mailman/listinfo/pct-l

    Basically you need the 4 guidebooks that include maps and the databook.

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    If you don't have much experience on snow and the winter here in Washington is normal, I wouldn't plan on leaving until late June or early July. The passes will still be buried in snow, and a lot of that snow will be hard pack. Route finding will be something of an issue as well.

    To give you some idea of what conditions might be like, take a look at:

    http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cw...in3/index.html

    These are from Snoqualmie Pass around Memorial Day of this year. You go right through Snoqualmie Pass on the PCT. It is about 3000 feet in elevation and much further south than the border, which is also higher in elevation.

    Or, try

    http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cw...ise/index.html

    These in mid June on the south side of Rainier, a few miles west of where the PCT crosses through the park.


    The desert you'll figure out really fast. Watch Lawrence of Arabia a few times (I'm serious!) and you'll get the general idea: Water is way important, cover up from the sun, and be prepared to rest a lot during the day. I found I could hike through the heat of the day just fine as long as I slowed my pace and drank a lot of water. Also, as Fiddlehead mentioned, get up and hike early. Early means like 5:30 or 6. You'll put in 10 miles before 10 without too much effort and the air is nice and cool. Around 5 things start to cool off again. Hiking in the Mojave while the sun is going down is one of the great experiences in life.

  7. #7

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    I know this is an old thread but for anyone thinking Pct Sobo I say go for it. We did a Sobo, just Wa and Or, but really loved to solitude. I would do a thru again Sobo for sure. A very different experience from going North.

  8. #8
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    I think I remember Jardine saying sobo

  9. #9

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    it was VERY different from the busy nobo. I also really enjoyed hiking thru the Cascades in the early summer. Gorgeous .

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by yappy View Post
    it was VERY different from the busy nobo. I also really enjoyed hiking thru the Cascades in the early summer. Gorgeous .
    Yeah but you were hiking with someone.

  11. #11

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    yeah, that is true. There was 2 guys out as well and they seemed to really be enjoying the solitude as too. When we started passing some Nobos' they were like .. yikes ! that is alot of hikers.. haha. It wasn't really obviously but compared to us it did seem like alot.

  12. #12
    Super Moderator Marta's Avatar
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    A little birdie (actually, it was his mom) told me my old buddy, Snapshot, is planning to go SOBO on the PCT this year.
    If not NOW, then WHEN?

    ME>GA 2006
    http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=3277

    Instagram hiking photos: five.leafed.clover

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marta View Post
    A little birdie (actually, it was his mom) told me my old buddy, Snapshot, is planning to go SOBO on the PCT this year.
    It's been a low snow year so far overall but, I heard today they're expecting several feet in the Sierra which may make a sobo hike a better option.

  14. #14

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    NE washington got alot this winter.. not sure about the Cascades but I think they got a fair amount. We started in July on a normal yr and still saw quite a bit of snow around glacier. .. i think Sobo is the way to do it these days. i hope he has a blast..

  15. #15

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    hey Marta, got a hike planned this summer ?

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by yappy View Post
    it was VERY different from the busy nobo. I also really enjoyed hiking thru the Cascades in the early summer. Gorgeous .
    Yeah, but you burned the bean soup.

    And the goggles you put on your dog to keep the sun out of his eyes was funny. (the bean soup was not)

    I have to search, i think there's a picture of that bean soup (and the dog) somewhere in cyberspace.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  17. #17

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    LOL... hey now... don't tell all my secrets.. I still have sweet lulu. She is gray now but still sooooooo cute. How you doing over there in the warm part of the world ?

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by yappy View Post
    NE washington got alot this winter.. not sure about the Cascades but I think they got a fair amount. We started in July on a normal yr and still saw quite a bit of snow around glacier. .. i think Sobo is the way to do it these days. i hope he has a blast..
    Just using Postholer as a reference. Of course, low snow doesn't mean no snow and there's still time left for a few serious storms.

    http://postholer.com/postholer/index.php?trail=1

  19. #19

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    yeah for sure. there always seem to be snow in those mnts in July.

  20. #20
    Super Moderator Marta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yappy View Post
    hey Marta, got a hike planned this summer ?
    Nope. I started a new job in January, which argues against taking a lot of time off. It's only 30 hours a week, however, so I'll have more time to continue exploring the Smokies. My brother is trying to convince me to join him in a driving trip across Turkey this fall. If I do that, it would suck up the time and money I'd otherwise spend on hiking.

    So I'll just wait and see what happens. If the housing market rebounds, I'd love to sell the house and take off.

    What about you?
    If not NOW, then WHEN?

    ME>GA 2006
    http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=3277

    Instagram hiking photos: five.leafed.clover

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