While it is still winter as of this writing, the time is drawing near to get back out on the trail; the Pacific Crest Trail in particular. I thoroughly admire PCT thru-hikers, and a part of me wishes I was one. But I’m not. And so I continue to nibble away at it, a few hundred miles a year. Over the past three years I have walked about 650 miles of the trail and have just over 2000 miles yet to go; and hoping to finish in another four years.
Like last year; this seasons hike will be in two parts. I will start in mid July at Seiad Valley in northern California, where last years hike ended, and head south. The goal will be to hit Sierra City, about 460 miles away by mid August, although that is a soft goal. The real goal is to finish California in 4 years, meaning I need to average just over 400 mile a year. The bulk of this segment will be solo, although a friend will fly out and join me for a week.
Come mid August I will head back to Washington, pick up another friend, and tackle the section between Rainy Pass and Stevens Pass, another 125 miles, before the end of August. That is a pretty firm deadline because my hiking buddies wife is dragging him off on a cruise then. She would likely not be too happy with me if he missed their cruise.
The trip through California will start in the small town of Seiad Valley, at the trips lowest point of about 1600 ft, and travel through the Marble Mountains, Russian, Trinity Alps, Castle Crags, Lassen Volcanic and Buck Lakes wildernesses; the Klamath, Marble, Scott, and Sierra Nevada mountains; near Mt Shasta; past Burney Falls; along Hat Creek Rim; past Subway Caves; and through Lassen National Park. The high point for the trail will be just a bit under 8000 ft, with a total elevation gain of about 49,000 feet, or over 9 miles of up. I am looking to make about 20 miles a day, along with several zero days, so this part of the trail should finish up in about a month.
So far, the only area of concern through this segment is the Hat Creek Rim. It appears to be waterless for about 30 miles. This will be during the time when I have my friend along and expect to be moving a bit slower. That means we will each have to carry a couple days of water from the outset: two gallons of water = 16 pounds.
My wife will once again provide support for this segment of the trail, meeting me every 2-4 days to resupply and allow for an occasional day off. This is somewhat of a win-win for both of us. It keeps the trail from becoming to arduous for me, and it gives her the opportunity to sight see in the area and exercise some of her wander lust. She will also put in quite a few miles day hiking up to meet me every few days, without actually having to spend the night out in the woods.
The Washington segment of this years trip will start on Highway 20 at Rainy Pass, travel through the North Cascade National Park, the Glacier Peak and Henry M Jackson wildernesses, and end at Stevens Pass on Highway 2. The elevation will vary from just under 2000 ft to a bit over 6000 ft, but will be a constant up and down, totaling nearly 20,000 over 125 miles. There are no roads through this stretch, meaning no support, meaning I have to carry 6-7 days worth of food. Fortunately the whole first day to Stehekin will be down hill.
I think my gear is in pretty good shape although I likely will tweak it a bit in an attempt to lighten the load some. Once I get a better idea about that I will provide a new gear list. I anticipate that I will go stoveless again this year since it worked so well last year. I also expect to be able to use the hammock throughout this years trip as well.
If you run into an tallish, oldish, south bounder this summer, with a small Eeyore hitching a ride on his shoulder strap, stop for a moment and exchange a howdy and swap trail reports. I really enjoy the solitude of the trail. But I would love to make your acquaintance as well.