Friday 3 May 2013

Pacific Crest Trail

After nearly 3 months of building new kit, and relaxation, it's time to get out there again.  It will be the first of two hikes across the USA, this time along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The PCT spans for over 4000km from the Mexican to Canadian borders and takes in a lot of the best of what western USA has to offer. I first heard about the PCT, as a teenager, in one of Chris Townsend's many great books, The Backpacker's Handbook. It has always been in my mind that I would like to hike it one day and interestingly Chris considers the PCT to be the most enjoyable of all his hikes. I'm also very pleased to see that he will now be publishing a book about his time on the PCT, called Rattle Snakes and Bald Eagles. It will be good to see how it compares to my hike some 30 years later. 

The PCT is much more popular nowadays and that worries me slightly. Socialising on the trail can be fun but I want to pick when, and with whom, that is. I love North America for its wild, unspoilt, landscape and masses of people can dilute that experience for me. The PCT is also attracting more and more hikers that haven't got the skills, or common sense, to complete it safely. In the last 2 weeks 5 PCT hikers have needed rescuing from the desert after suffering from severe dehydration, and all of these were within 30km of the start... yes really! The PCT, while perhaps not the most demanding of hikes, is not for beginners and some experience of desert and snow covered high mountain hiking should be considered essential. This year is another low snow year so I'm not expecting too much trouble with snowfields, or river crossings. The flip-side is that the desert is particularly dry, and water, along with the risk of wild fires, will need careful monitoring.

I fly out to San Diego on Tuesday (7th May) before starting hiking on Friday (10th May). If you wish to follow my hike on Social Hiking then it can be found here

Have a great summer everybody - I know I will!