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  1. #1
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    Default PCT 2008 Questions

    Ok, so it looks like the PCT is on for this summer. I'm not 100% sure, but its looking more than likely at this point. Got the shifts locked down at work the other day, and I think I have enough money. I've got a couple questions that I was wondering if you guys could help me out with:

    1. What is the rain like? I feel like I've heard conflicting things; one person in another thread talked about "miserable" rain, but I've heard other people say that they have gone 100+ nights on the PCT with just cowboy camping, never pitching any kind of shelter. Which is it? Or, in other words, should I stick with a super-light, minimal tarp, or get something with more coverage like the Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape?

    2. How much water volume? I carry 2x1-liter platys regularly, so how much more storage do I need for southern California? If I get the platypus "water bags," do I just let them hang on the outside of my pack, or pack them inside?

    3. How much pack volume? I know there are some long roadless sections that need 5-6 days of food. I like the look of the Mountain Laurel Designs Prophet (2750 ci). Is that enough? My GoLite Jam (~3100) felt too big last summer. Keep in mind that the base weight is about 5 lbs, and everything packs down really small.

    4. Long pants/shirt in the desert, right? What materials, or does it matter? Is there anything in particular I should look to buy? I'm thinking about just using my rainpants from last summer, and a lightweight synthetic shirt on top?

    5. What about bears? Do I need one of those dorky canisters, or can I just hang my food and take my chances?

    Thanks for any help,
    -DM

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by clured View Post
    Ok, so it looks like the PCT is on for this summer. I'm not 100% sure, but its looking more than likely at this point. Got the shifts locked down at work the other day, and I think I have enough money. I've got a couple questions that I was wondering if you guys could help me out with:

    1. What is the rain like? I feel like I've heard conflicting things; one person in another thread talked about "miserable" rain, but I've heard other people say that they have gone 100+ nights on the PCT with just cowboy camping, never pitching any kind of shelter. Which is it? Or, in other words, should I stick with a super-light, minimal tarp, or get something with more coverage like the Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape?

    2. How much water volume? I carry 2x1-liter platys regularly, so how much more storage do I need for southern California? If I get the platypus "water bags," do I just let them hang on the outside of my pack, or pack them inside?

    3. How much pack volume? I know there are some long roadless sections that need 5-6 days of food. I like the look of the Mountain Laurel Designs Prophet (2750 ci). Is that enough? My GoLite Jam (~3100) felt too big last summer. Keep in mind that the base weight is about 5 lbs, and everything packs down really small.

    4. Long pants/shirt in the desert, right? What materials, or does it matter? Is there anything in particular I should look to buy? I'm thinking about just using my rainpants from last summer, and a lightweight synthetic shirt on top?

    5. What about bears? Do I need one of those dorky canisters, or can I just hang my food and take my chances?

    Thanks for any help,
    -DM
    1) Overall a dry trail, Washington and Oregon can be rainy depending on arrival time

    2) For the desert I'm bringing a total of 8 litres for capacity, 1 bladder and 5 bottles (not sure how much water I'll need here, so I'm gonna start off on the safe side till I figure my body out)

    3) Can't help ya there

    4) Pants or shorts in the desert, I'd bring convertible pants in case you find that you don't like shorts. Long sleeve shirt would be a good idea.

    5) Cans, weigh the risks. A bear could always chance upon you in the Sierra's, w/o you could get screwed, or cited, then again nothing might happen at all. I'm taking a can cause I'd rather lug the weight than deal with the possibility of losing dinner or citations.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by clured View Post
    Ok, so it looks like the PCT is on for this summer. I'm not 100% sure, but its looking more than likely at this point. Got the shifts locked down at work the other day, and I think I have enough money. I've got a couple questions that I was wondering if you guys could help me out with:

    1. What is the rain like? I feel like I've heard conflicting things; one person in another thread talked about "miserable" rain, but I've heard other people say that they have gone 100+ nights on the PCT with just cowboy camping, never pitching any kind of shelter. Which is it? Or, in other words, should I stick with a super-light, minimal tarp, or get something with more coverage like the Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape?

    2. How much water volume? I carry 2x1-liter platys regularly, so how much more storage do I need for southern California? If I get the platypus "water bags," do I just let them hang on the outside of my pack, or pack them inside?

    3. How much pack volume? I know there are some long roadless sections that need 5-6 days of food. I like the look of the Mountain Laurel Designs Prophet (2750 ci). Is that enough? My GoLite Jam (~3100) felt too big last summer. Keep in mind that the base weight is about 5 lbs, and everything packs down really small.

    4. Long pants/shirt in the desert, right? What materials, or does it matter? Is there anything in particular I should look to buy? I'm thinking about just using my rainpants from last summer, and a lightweight synthetic shirt on top?

    5. What about bears? Do I need one of those dorky canisters, or can I just hang my food and take my chances?

    Thanks for any help,
    -DM
    1. It never rains in california, but boy.... It rains up north in the fall...snow too! Some whine more than others. Never use one of those tents.

    2.I like 2 liters and a pint. Know your limits.

    3.Sounds like you should be able to figure that out.

    4.I always wore shorts and a t shirt

    5. I sleep with my food. Last I checked it was a violation to hang your food because so many hikers lost their food and so many bears had to be put down. Carry a canister if you're not comfortable in bear country.

  4. #4

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    I don't have any experience with rain, but I am planning on it being very very rare from Campo to Tuolumne.

    What capacity is your call. I'll be carrying a 1 L bottle and 3 2.4 L platys. You can always add more water bottles as you go.

    Your call again, but plan on hauling a lot of water until around Kennedy Meadows and then plan on hauling a lot of food through most of the JMT.

    It seems everyone deals with the heat differently. Convertible pants, a light colored cotton long sleeved shirt, and a hat would be a good start.

    Buy an ursack (yeah yeah, not approved) or rent a bear canister. Hanging is useless. You may be able to get by with sleeping with your food, but if enough people do that bears will start breaking into tents. You don't want that on your conscience

    These are mostly my opinions. I've only done the JMT so far but hoping to do the first 950 miles this summer.

  5. #5

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    Bear canisters are now mandatory in most of the High Sierras. You'll need to carry one from Kennedy Meadows (or later if you want to drop into Lone Pine) to Sonora Pass. If you happen upon a ranger, they will check and fine you and escort you out if you're not carrying..

  6. #6
    Registered User A-Train's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clured View Post
    Ok, so it looks like the PCT is on for this summer. I'm not 100% sure, but its looking more than likely at this point. Got the shifts locked down at work the other day, and I think I have enough money. I've got a couple questions that I was wondering if you guys could help me out with:

    1. What is the rain like? I feel like I've heard conflicting things; one person in another thread talked about "miserable" rain, but I've heard other people say that they have gone 100+ nights on the PCT with just cowboy camping, never pitching any kind of shelter. Which is it? Or, in other words, should I stick with a super-light, minimal tarp, or get something with more coverage like the Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape?

    2. How much water volume? I carry 2x1-liter platys regularly, so how much more storage do I need for southern California? If I get the platypus "water bags," do I just let them hang on the outside of my pack, or pack them inside?

    3. How much pack volume? I know there are some long roadless sections that need 5-6 days of food. I like the look of the Mountain Laurel Designs Prophet (2750 ci). Is that enough? My GoLite Jam (~3100) felt too big last summer. Keep in mind that the base weight is about 5 lbs, and everything packs down really small.

    4. Long pants/shirt in the desert, right? What materials, or does it matter? Is there anything in particular I should look to buy? I'm thinking about just using my rainpants from last summer, and a lightweight synthetic shirt on top?

    5. What about bears? Do I need one of those dorky canisters, or can I just hang my food and take my chances?

    Thanks for any help,
    -DM

    1. Maybe I was the one who said "misreble rain" in another thread? I got rained on for like an hour in California in 100 days. BUT (a big BUT) it rained on me more frequently in OR/WA. When it rains for a couple days, gets cold, your at much higher altitude than the east coast and there are no shelters to duck into-things can get MISREBLE. And I was on the verge of being hypothermic the day I hit the Canadian Border. On September 20TH! Moral of the story, at least be well prepared for weather up north. Whether you roll the dice down south is up to you (still foolish IMO).

    I had a capacity for 8 liters in case. 7 was my max coming out of Pines to Palms. The water thing gets a bit blown out of proportion. Last yr was one of the driest ever and I never really used caches. Basically just pay attention all the time to your levels and sources, and figure out how much you NEED to drink.

    I'd go with a bigger pack than both of those, but I also hiked with 2 guys who had 4-5 oz packs that looked like daybags. I'd be concerned about getting food and gear for the Sierra (and a canister) in a small pack.

    4. I used the Long Shirt and shorts combo. Fuond my legs don't really burn, just brown. Never really used sun screen at all, a waste of money and weight. Have a great big hat, sunglasses, a bandanna and a shirt (with collar) and you'll be good. I think my shirt was nylon (and of course beige). I couldn't help but think how silly people looked in tank tops slathered in sunscreen. Makes no sense.

    5. Cannister-Def use one. They're kinda a pain, but you won't carry much water in the Sierra. Makes a good seat too. But 5+ days was the max I could fit. Good piece of mind when sleeping in the Sierra. There's a guy who has a loaner program where thrus can "rent" them for free. Good stuff.

    Have fun, this trail is a dream.
    Anything's within walking distance if you've got the time.
    GA-ME 03, LT 04/06, PCT 07'

  7. #7
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    Been wondering about the canister. So a bear finds your canister and knocks it around for a while and eventually gives up.... I think that's the idea, right? But how do you find it after that happens? It seems to me it might end up far from where it started...

  8. #8

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    I was in rain several times south of Kennedy Meadows and also in snow three times, but you seriously can cowboy camp most nights. You can get by with a tarp.

    Had to carry 8 liters at times and it was a pain in the a$$.

    Started with a 2800ci G pack and changed to my 3600ci Dana Bridger at the end of the first week...mostly for better suspension but did use the extra space efficiently.

    I hiked in shorts and short sleeves most of the time once I got a little tan.

    Cannisters are now manditory and one of the Ursacks has been re-approved in 2007.

    This is just my experience which wasn't much...I only got from the border to Yosemite but I also only took a Marmot Wind Shirt and no rain jacket and regretted it...better off with a light rain jacket.

    geek

  9. #9

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    I have not yet done the PCT but have lived near the southern terminis for the last 3 years. I hunt and hike in the mountains and deserts throughout Southern California. Just know that there is a real and dangerous possibility of rain in the desert valleys if you are passing through late for some reason. If you're on the typical NOBO schedule you shouldn't have much to worry about until you get to OR and WA though.

    Flash floods in the desert are an awe inspiring and frightening thing the first time you witness one. I've seen boulders the size of my truck frolicking along a wash that was bone dry five minutes before. Scariest part is that the nearest cloud seemed like it was out on the horizon.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by _terrapin_ View Post
    Been wondering about the canister. So a bear finds your canister and knocks it around for a while and eventually gives up.... I think that's the idea, right? But how do you find it after that happens? It seems to me it might end up far from where it started...
    Bright neon green reflective tape, and you get to play food soccer with the bears.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by _terrapin_ View Post
    Been wondering about the canister. So a bear finds your canister and knocks it around for a while and eventually gives up.... I think that's the idea, right? But how do you find it after that happens? It seems to me it might end up far from where it started...
    The Sierra bears are incredibly smart. From what I understand they don't even bother knocking them around any more. Still, it's best not to leave it near the edge of a cliff. I left mine right near my tent, in a depression, between rocks etc..

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Adams View Post
    I was in rain several times south of Kennedy Meadows and also in snow three times, but you seriously can cowboy camp most nights. You can get by with a tarp.

    Had to carry 8 liters at times and it was a pain in the a$$.

    Started with a 2800ci G pack and changed to my 3600ci Dana Bridger at the end of the first week...mostly for better suspension but did use the extra space efficiently.

    I hiked in shorts and short sleeves most of the time once I got a little tan.

    Cannisters are now manditory and one of the Ursacks has been re-approved in 2007.

    This is just my experience which wasn't much...I only got from the border to Yosemite but I also only took a Marmot Wind Shirt and no rain jacket and regretted it...better off with a light rain jacket.

    geek
    Are you the same geek that hiked last year? I think you gave me some left over food at Crabtree Meadows before you went in search of the "big trees."

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoForty View Post
    Are you the same geek that hiked last year? I think you gave me some left over food at Crabtree Meadows before you went in search of the "big trees."
    Yeah, that was me. How did the rest of your hike go?

    geek

  14. #14

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    1/ had 2 days of rain until OR (NOBO hike '96) sent the tent ahead and slept under the stars with the rainfly as a backup. ended up switching tents and carrying something lighter in OR/WA (something i had made myself years ago)
    2/ most i ever carried was 3 litres (out of scissors x-ing) most carried more, i drank 2 gallons before i set out and had plenty. did the first 750 miles again 6 years later and was surprised to see HUGE water caches at many many road crossings. I personally don't think this is a good idea because hikers will perhaps learn to count on it and then it might not be there sometime.
    3/ many hikers were using go-lite breeze packs in 2000 (i think they are around 3,000 cubes)
    4/ I prefer long, thin, cotton pants in the desert with a longsleeve, thin, cotton shirt. Just look at how the Mexican's dress and that big straw hat they use is a major plus when there is no shade. change your gear (Clothing) completely at Kennedy meadows.
    5/ I always have stayed far away from the recommended campsites and stealth camped up high, hopefully above treeline. then slept with my food and had a pile of rocks near me when sleeping, never saw a bear at night doing this. Don't know what i would do now that the rangers are giving citations. Probably carry a fake id?

    This is a really high snow year so far. That means fords will be tougher than usual. Don't be afraid to spend lots of time looking for a better spot to cross or perhaps taking a different route. May have to start later than usual this year IMO. Had friends quit because of frostbite in '96. Take extra socks for sure, and gaitors may be useful.
    Also routefinding will be tougher in the snow. I'd get the good 3 map set of the Sierras or JMT in addition to the guidebook in a year like this one's shaping up to be.
    Unless we have a really hot spring, I would take a GPS to help with snow travel also. (again IMO but it's nice to know where you are when you look out and it's nothing but white covered terrain everywhere you look)

  15. #15
    GA-ME 78, sectional 81-01 HIKER7s's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clured View Post
    Ok, so it looks like the PCT is on for this summer.

    Hi,

    A great resource on PCT in YOGI's guidebook.

    http://www.pcthandbook.com/
    I hiked that ridge Pop told me not to that morning.
    Each time out, I see that same ridge- only different.
    Each one is an adventure in itself. Leading to what is beyond the next- HIKER7s


  16. #16
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    Guys,

    Thanks so much for the advice, everything here is really helpful.

    Fiddlehead: Is the frostbite from having to posthole in trailrunners? If the snow is really heavy, would it help to switch to waterproof hiking boots in the high parts? Also, what is "usual" as far as starting dates go for the PCT? I will have to go on May 16 no matter what, because I'm locked into a pretty tight window because of school.

    What is an "ursack"? Are the canisters mandatory for the whole trail, or just parts of it?

    One more - Assuming I need to be geared for really hot weather down south, how cool does it get after Kennedy Meadows? Assuming I'm moving all day, and have a 20deg bag for the nights, do I need anything more than like a thermal top/light gortex jacket?

    Again, thanks..

  17. #17

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    Look up the archives for the PCT-L (PCT listserve) most of your questions are answered there.

    May 16th huh? Looks like I'm not the only late starter this year

  18. #18
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    those with questions about the PCT should try to attend ADZPCTKO, which is the acronym for "Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off", which is on April 25-27 this year. It's sort of a "Trail Days" at the start (it's about a day up from Campo) but not as zany (still, fun!) and even a lot of people who are past it come back (as with TD) for fellowship and info. If you can't, go to their web page and at least contact the people on it, they are very helpful.

    http://www.siechert.org/adz/

    The Weasel
    "Thank God! there is always a Land of Beyond, For us who are true to the trail..." --- Robert Service

  19. #19
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    I'll be working the registration desk at ADZPCTKO this year.

    Stop on in and say "HI".
    Paul "Mags" Magnanti
    http://pmags.com
    Twitter: @pmagsco
    Facebook: pmagsblog

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

  20. #20
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    I missed going last year, Mags, with a schedule conflict. Will be there this year almost for sure at least as a day trip.

    Burn zone really is bad, isn't it? Jeez.

    TW
    "Thank God! there is always a Land of Beyond, For us who are true to the trail..." --- Robert Service

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