Saturday, March 12, 2011

Trail Gear and Itinerary

Each passing day brings me one step closer to hitting the dusty trail, and at this point all my gear has been bought and stockpiled in my apartment, planning is mostly complete, and I am ready to head down to Campo, CA!  Unfortunately, it is still another 5-6 weeks before that is actually going to happen. Luckily, there have been a few events and gatherings in the meantime which continue to fuel my excitement!

Earlier this week I went to a showing of a PCT documentary made by an alumnus of the PCT back in 2007/2008.    His trail name is Squatch, which, as you can imagine, is short for sasquatch due to his belief that the hairy, herculean beast-man is somewhere out there in the woods.  As expected, there were many other past and future thru-hikers in attendance as well.  Two of the hikers at the viewing were Balls and Sunshine.  Balls has hiked the trail before, and his daughter Sunshine is planning to hike the trail with him this year. If Sunshine completes the hike, she will be the youngest ever to do so at the grand old age of 10.  Amazing! The documentary "Walked" covered his journey over the course of two summers hiking the PCT and included many conversations with fellow hikers.  It looks like there are a lot of fun people out on the trail which makes me want to get out on the trail even more!  If you are interested in watching one of his four movies, they are available for purchase here: (

Now onto the gear and itinerary.  After scouring many journals and books, and talking to those who have hiked before, I believe that my gear cache for the hike is complete!  After adding up everything from the tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, clothing, stove, headlamp, maps, compass, camera, etc. it looks like I will be carrying 15 lbs on my back without the weight of food and water.  This is what is known as "base pack weight" or BPW for short.  Fifteen pounds is about the average BPW for most thru hikers, with a few going ultralight (under 10 pounds) and others being the 'heavy truckers' with a BPW of 20 or more.  Add in another 2 lbs of food per day, plus another 6-12 lbs of water and I will be carrying 30-40 pounds at a time, depending on the length of the section between resupplies in various towns along the trail.  Does it sound like fun to you yet? It does to me!

I am hesitant to put an itinerary on here because I really don't know how things are going to go.  Am I going to be able to average 20 miles per day like I would like?  Maybe.  Will I have to hang out at Kennedy Meadows for a couple days or week before the snow has melted enough in the Sierra to make it reasonably safe?  Who knows!  And then there is also the possibility of some sort of injury or sickness that could throw things off as well.  (I bet you really want to go now that I've made it sound like so much fun!)  I look at all these things as being part of the trail experience.  You take things as they come, and deal with them one at a time.  I met someone a few weeks ago who said about the trail, "What am I going to do today? Hmm, walk twenty miles.  What am I going to do tomorrow?  Walk twenty miles.  What am I going to do the day after that?  Walk into a town and eat and resupply.  What am I going to do the day after that?  I guess I'll walk twenty miles."  And while you're walking you are thinking about the logistics of the next minute, hour, day, week.  You think about water, you think about food, you think about your next break, and you just keep walking and you figure it out as you go and you don't worry about what day it is, or the time, or if you are "on schedule".  I think that's the biggest thing about it; I don't want to feel pressured to keep to a certain timeline.  That's part of the reason for this hike is to be free of the encumbrances, schedules and time demands of the "real world".   So with a grain of salt, here is the rundown of my rough plan. It isn't all that detailed, but should give some idea of where I will be on certain dates.  Please let me know if/when you would be interested in meeting up along the trail! (or drive me into town for food?)  It would be great to see some familiar faces out there!

Date - Trail Mile from Mex Border - Location/Town

April 29 - 0 - Mexican Border
April 30 - 20 - Lake Morena for Annual Day Zero PCT Kick-Off (ADZPCTKO)
May 4 - 110 - Warner Springs, CA
May 8 - 180 - Idyllwild, CA
May 14 - 274 - Big Bear City/Big Bear Lake, CA
May 19 - 364 - Wrightwood, CA
June 1 - 560 - Tehachapi/ Mojave, CA
June 8 - 703 - Kennedy Meadows, CA

Anything after Kennedy Meadows is really up in the air at this point and will depend on the snow depth situation when I arrive.

June 16 - 790 - Independence/Bishop, CA
June 22 - 920 - Mammoth Lakes, CA
July 1 - 1093 - South Lake Tahoe, CA
July 7 - 1198 - Sierra City, CA
July 15 - 1334 - Chester, CA
July 23 - 1506 - Dunsmuir, CA
July 31 - 1662 - Seiad Valley, CA
August 3 - 1727 - Ashland, OR
August 9 - 1830 - Crater Lake, OR (Mazama Village)
August 18 - 1990 - Sisters, OR
August 24 - 2107 - Timberline Lodge, OR
August 27 - 2155 - Cascade Locks, OR
September 1 - 2234 - Trout Lake, WA
September 4 - 2303 - White Pass, WA
September 9 - 2402 - Snoqualmie Pass, WA
September 13 - 2476 - Skykomish, WA
September 19 - 2574 - Stehekin, WA
September 23 - 2663 - Manning Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Feel free to comment or ask questions about things I don't explain very well or at all. Enjoy the weekend!


  1. Hi Alexander- I am so excited for you about this venture. It's been a pleasure to read your thoughts tonight. I understand that your schedule must needs be very flexible... but as you near Ashland, Ken, Helena and I would love meet up and spend time with you on and/or off the trail. If you are planning town breaks we hope you'll stay with us- but at the very least we can bring you home for a hot shower, drive you on a supply run, share a yummy meal and let your stories inspire us. You're gonna have Stories!
    Let us know what you're thinking would work (and, of course, we know that it'll be evolving on the trail).
    I imagine the toughest part will be meeting up with you. We'll watch the blog of course- but do you need additional contact info from us?


  2. Thank you for your generous offer, I would love to stay with you guys as I pass through the area! And I would be more than happy to exchange trail stories for a hot shower and a home cooked meal! You are right on about my schedule (or lack thereof). It will be hard to know exactly when I will be passing through until a week or two before hand, so hopefully we will be able to communicate details sometime in July. Having your phone number would be great so that I can get a hold of you when I have cell service. My cell is 503-781-9536.

    Looking forward to seeing you!