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PCT Websites

2002 Online Journals

Thru-hike Planning

Our Thru-hike  
Planning Links  

Early Planning

  • General PCT Information:

    PCTA (Pacific Crest Trail Association) - A great place to start.  We became members, read the newsletters and got our thru-hike permit from them.

    Craig's PCT planning program - We used it to get an idea of how long it would take us to thru-hike and we used it again, later, to firm up our itinerary.  Great program.

  • Books:

    "The Advanced Backpacker - A Handbook for Year-Round, Long-Distance Hiking" by Chris Townsend - This is an excellent book and is not limited to the Pacific Crest Trail, as Chris has done extended hiking in a number of countries.   This is a practical guide on all aspects of planning for a long-distance hike.   Highly recommended.

    "The PCT Hiker's Handbook for the Long Distance Hiker" by Ray Jardine - (This book gave us some food for thought regarding ultra-light backpacking.  We thought some of it was 'over the top' and, apparently, weren't alone in that thinking (see review), but the book is packed with great ideas and original thoughts.)

    "Journey on the Crest" by Cindy Ross - (This was the one book we had that chronicled a thru-hike ... there are others.  This is the story about a woman who hiked the PCT in two parts during the early 80's.  It gave us lots of encouragement.   Gee, if she can do it ..."

  • Equipment:

    MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op)
    - Our Canadian candy store.  Located near downtown Vancouver, it became our 'place to go first' for our PCT gear - tent, clothing & misc items were purchased here. 

    REI (Recreation Equipment Inc.) - The American equivalent of MEC, but with a larger selection at slightly higher prices.  The exchange rate kills us.

    NESCO-American Harvest - This is where we purchased our dehydrator after doing an extensive research.  We selected the FD-50 - good wattage, expandable to 12 trays (though we ended up using only 6), thermostat & patented air-flow for even drying.

  • Film:

    Southbounders: An independent film about one woman's journey on the Appalachian Trail. Follow along as "Olivia" and two other thru-hikers walk from Maine to Georgia. The film, a 2005 Whistler Film Festival selection, provides a cinematic look at the AT thru-hiking experience, exploring relationships, the rigors of hiking and the beauty of the trail, along the way. A must-see for anyone who's been on a long hike, thinking about doing a thru-hike or knows someone who's thru-hiked.

  • Video:

    "Border-to-Border: Hiking 2,515 miles on the PCT" by Purple Dragon Ventures (90min).  It chronicles a 1988 thru-hike by Joe & Carol McVeigh.  Not a necessary pre-planning tool, but it does provide a first-hand account of what PCT life is like.

    "How to Hike the Pacific Crest Trail" by Lynne Wheldon (4 hr 39min).  Interviews with 22 PCT thru-hikers.  Arranged by topic.   Nice section with interior footage of trail town resupply stores.  Find out from thru-hikers, while on the trail, about what they'd do different, what works.   Good resource.

  • Dehydration & Recipes:

    We wanted to try dehydrated food and went to the library and checked out lots of books on the subject.  Over time, we developed a method that was well adapted to our style of backpacking (see our dehydration planning pages).  We utilized many books for recipe ideas, but one book stood out:

    "The Backcountry Kitchen" by Teresa Marrone - Many books have complicated preparation or ingredients.  Teresa's book is nice because it focuses on easy to pack, easy to prepare lightweight food.  It also has symbols associated with each recipe.   This allowed us to quickly determine if the recipe would work for us or not.

    Other books we browsed:

    "Cooking the One-Burner Way" by Melissa Gray & Buck Tilton.  Owners and operators of the Wilderness Medicine Institute, this book focuses on cooking 160 elaborate and simplistic meals on top of a compact, one-burner stove.

    "NOLS Cookery" edited by Claudia Pearson.  Lots of hints, ideas and recipes in this classic guide to backcountry cooking.  NOLS = "National Outdoor Leadership School".

    "Lip Smackin' Backpackin': Lightweight, Trail-tested Recipes" by Tim & Christine Connors.  Book includes recipes and trail tips from experienced long-distance hikers.

  • Snow Conditions: Sites that tell you how much snow is along the trail.  We got a bit excited because the 2001-2002 snow year started off with a bang.  The data becomes more relevant the closer it is to your start date.  Useful for thinking about water availability and snow travel.

    "CA Dept of Water Resources - Snow Water Content" - Updated daily, this plot shows the current and prior year's "snow water content" as a percentage of the April 1st average.  A WET-year and DRY-year plot gives current data a frame of reference.  Our #1 source.

    "USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service - Snowpack Maps" - Updated monthly, these maps cover the drainage basins of the western U.S.  Cover the entire PCT, but the data is a bit data.  Also has historic data.  Site has oodles of other snow information and is linked to SNOTEL stations.  Pretty overview of the trail.  Pick the year and month you'd like to view.

    "USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service - SNOTEL Sites" - Nitty-gritty, by-station data.  The (NRCS) maintains an automated system to collect snowpack data in the Western U.S.  called SNOTEL (SNOwpack TELemetry). The system evolved from a Congressional mandate in the mid-1930's "to measure snowpack in the mountains of the West and forecast water supply."  It program began with manual measurements, but since 1980, SNOTEL sites have reliably and efficiently collected the data.  Click on the above link and paw around, but we found a non-NRCS-site to have the (Best SNOTEL graphs: Pick an area, then a station, configure a graph & view the data from that SNOTEL station)