Planning the hike
The first thought I had was: “WTF, over 2500 miles???” I was also really surprised of the length and that people complete it between 4-6 month. It is also possible to hike sections if you don’t have enough time but I want to truth-hike the trail. Splitting the trail into his sections and going from day to day brings you to your goal. I guess you should not think about the total length. On my first marathon I also thought in steps and at the end it brought you the finish line. You have to trick your own mind 😉
A big help planning the PCT was Craigs PCT planner. This website offers you a hiking plan of the whole PCT. You can create your own profile and adjust the whole plan. First, you enter your walking speed, hours of walking and extra time for each 1,000ft. At the next step, the tool suggest you a hiking plan. Now, you have to decide if you want to stop many times to resupply or rest in trail towns or if you can skip some stops. You can select where you want exit the trail. This is also important for your diet plan. In my case and since I am planning to hike maximum 5 month in total, I try to stop only in tows which are close to the trail and don’t waste time off trail.
The planner provides you also with an elevation chart of every section. This helps you to identify parts which are going to be easy or difficult.
To complete a whole plan is going to take a while because you have to check various things:
- sections with to many steep climbs because you need to carry more food to balance your calorie burn/intake
- check if there is enough resupply possibility in town or the opening hours of Post Office (sending food packages)
- distance from trail town to the trail -> plan enough time for extra miles or hitchhiking
- time off trail -> after long sections it makes sense to take a day off
At my hiking plan you find an overview of my plan, which trail towns I hiking to and why.
Maps and navigation
The most common maps for the PCT are Halfmiles maps. Those are maps of sections of the PCT. On additions, there are various Apps for you smartphone where you can track you hike. I will uses both options because the maps have unlimited battery and the Apps helps to identify your actual location. Don’t forget to put your maps into a waterproof bag!
The PCT Planners shows you on which map you can find each of your sections.