Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wait but you will be staying in hotels and stuff right?

Once the look of shock passes and the wait how far? Did you say 5 months? Conversation starts, a few other questions keep popping up.

Wait, how are you getting there?
Guys this may not be your typical backpacking trip but deep down that’s all it is. Every morning I will wake up, pack my bag. Put my backpack on and hike. Just think about it as one step at a time and it doesn’t seem so scary right?
But you are going with friends; you aren’t going alone are you? (almost always accompanied by a look of horror)

I have always thought about doing this trail by myself. Truly good hiking/backpacking partners are tough to find. Small things become huge and what started out as fun can devolve into bitterness and petty arguing. Plus your lives have to align perfectly for you to go with that friend or partner so solo it is.
Only I will not truly be alone. Every year there is this thing called ADZPCTKO (Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off). The Kick Off is a big get-together at the start of the trail (well mile 20.6, at Lake Morena Campground), where hikers can, according to their website,
shed those butterflies that inevitably precede a life-altering experience like hiking the PCT by showing you the broad spectrum of strategies that have been successful in the past and those of your fellow 2012 PCTers. Additionally, it provides a low-key gathering in which you can begin the friendships that inevitably evolve from such a journey.
What that all really means is there will be at least 300 people who I will be hiking with this year and I get to meet a whole mess of them at kick off. So while I will technically be alone most solo hikers only stay alone if they want to.
Wait you don’t get to shower every day?
That’s a no. The trail passes through or near towns every few days (every 3-5 days with a few exceptions) so hikers usually detour into those towns to take a break, recharge and resupply on food and other essentials which might include a night at a hotel/motel with showers. Otherwise it’s up to whatever water sources you find on the trail and you just have to accept that you will be dirty.
But what are you going to eat?
Food, that’s right by being on the trail I do not magically morph into some bug eating extremist. I like food, in fact food is one of my very favorite things in life and I do not plan on starving. With so many towns close to the trail most hikers carry a few days worth of food at a time. When they need food, they get off the trail, go into a nearby town, and either buy food at a grocery store, or pick up a food box that has been mailed to them. I’m going to be doing a mix of this. Sometimes I will just buy as I go but when I think the store will be lousy or I know ahead of time that I will need something special I will mail myself a box of stuff (well actually my lovely mother will be in charge of resupplying me so she will be in charge of mail).

I’m sure there have been a million other questions but that’s a good start. Feel free to bother me with any others that strike your fancy.


  1. When I did the PCT in '99, I didn't have a lot of money and never staid in motels. And as for staying clean, I washed almost every night before going to bed out of my cooking pot. Soap cleans it up just fine afterwards. I always slept way better being cozy clean. I even washed essentials and most other clothes in the cooking pot, on a rotational basis. The exceptions to these activities were exhausted, hot days in the desert and on very cold days, such as in the rain, at the end of the day. There's no need to be really dirty on the trail. Give yourself a half hour at the end of each day to clean up and wash you, socks, or whatever needs it.

  2. I've always been a fan of a quick cleanup in camp at night. I'll admit I tend to skip it when I'm super cold or bone tired but it does always make me sleep better. We'll see how I do, heat rashes and such are pretty awful and a little water or a wet wipe sure does go a long way in preventing problems