Have you ever wondered what it’s like to hike the Pacific Crest Trail? If so, we hope to give you an idea of what it is like with posts about each section of the trail.
In 2019, my boyfriend (Tuna Butter) and I (Calypso) hiked the PCT. The whole. damn. thing. And we learned a thing or two along the way. Hopefully this series – this so-called glimpse at “A Day in the Life of a PCT Thru-Hiker” – will provide some insight into what hiking the trail is like.
If not… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
We hope to do a post each week first detailing the 5 different sections of the PCT: Desert, Sierra, Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. We might intersperse some bonus and Q&A posts. For now, let’s start with the Desert section.
For the first 700 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, northbound hikers are subjected to the beauty and harsh conditions of the Southern California desert. The first few hundred miles are especially tough on the mind and body. Mentally, you have to adjust to packing up and unpacking your home every day, body aches, and to things like creepy spiders and various flavors of rattlesnakes. Also, your body isn’t used to walking 15-25 miles a day; many hikers get injured within a month or two of being on Trail. To avoid this, Tuna Butter and I intentionally hiked around 12-15 miles each day for two weeks. Of course, some twenties snuck their way in, but we tried to keep our egos at bay. It is important to listen to your body and not start too fast.
Note: Before I break down the average day-to-day, I wanted to bring up the conditions of 2019. It was an abnormally wet spring in California. April and May brought rain showers and cool, overcast days to SoCal. In the mountains, this translated to late season snowfall. We walked through snow in the High Desert. Filled our bottles up at unmarked streams. The wildflowers were also exceptional (yes, we got to experience the ‘Poppy Apocalypse‘).
In the desert, there were many instances of rain – once even snow. We know some folks who were able to hike the L.A. Aqueduct, a notoriously hot and exposed section, during the day… and with their puffy jackets on! However, in May we took several weeks off from Trail to go see family, and once we’d made it back to the trail things were not the same. Before we left, peak temps were around 80F. When we came back in June, it was a good twenty degrees hotter during the day. I’m talking over 100F in full sun, every day. Water was more limited, too. We had to quickly adapt to this change, carry more water, and take longer siestas.
Because of this break in time, I believe this post will provide a pretty accurate representation of the Desert section, even during a drier year.Continue reading