Jan 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm #1268221
Companion forum thread to:Jan 25, 2011 at 2:58 pm #1688322
@dharmabumpkinLocale: San Gabriel Mtns
I really enjoyed this… thanks for making it free.Jan 25, 2011 at 3:36 pm #1688329
This is the best article I've read on BPL. I will be heading out on the PCT starting May 22nd so I followed last years hikers very closely. You could see the Vortex of fear in the trail journals and I believe that the abundance of information has accelerated this vortex. I also believe that there are more inexperienced hikers hitting the trail and getting scared off by the stories. I was shocked at the number of people that bailed prior to the Sierras just due to the stories. But the ironic thing is that the snow for most hikers arriving after mid-June was about average. Only the early folks saw increased snow due to the slower melt. I plotted out 25 years of Charlotte Lake snow data expecting to see last year as a monumental year but it just wasn't. But listening to the "vortex" it was record year.
Great story. ThanksJan 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm #1688331
@suttreeLocale: ON, CANADA
Looking forward to future installments.Jan 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm #1688405
@jdw01776Locale: Southeast Texas
A very enjoyable and informative article…Jan 25, 2011 at 5:59 pm #1688413
@matthewbrownLocale: Blue Ridge Mtns
I commonly find myself saying, "Well that alone was worth the membership fee" and this article continues the trend.
Thanks for the ride.Jan 25, 2011 at 6:40 pm #1688423
@sschloss1Locale: New England
On the PCT, every time Yogi's book or the Schaffer guides or another hiker mentioned some perilous section upcoming, my friends and I would all yell in mock horror, "oh no, we're all going to die!" Well, none of us did. In fact, almost all of the trails reported dangers proved to be completely overblown:
Fuller Ridge–we got completely lost and ended up bushwacking straight down the mountain, but we got through. The snow was only an issue because we lost the trail.
The desert–no problem if you watch your water and don't hike during the heat of the afternoon.
Snow in the Sierras–annoying and difficult but far from impossible.
The closure in Glacier Peak–no problem, really.
The bottom line is that there are no insurmountable obstacles on the PCT. Hundreds of people thru-hike every year. Children have done it. Senior citizens have done it. I only wish the guidebooks would be a little bit better about stoking people's fears. It's all doable.Jan 25, 2011 at 6:58 pm #1688428
In 2006 and 2008 I was warned at the AZPCTKO
that Fuller Ridge would be possible only
with ice axe and at least instep-crampons.
In 2006 I bought instep crampons and got
them send to Idylwild together with my
ice axe. I didn´t need them at all.
Yes there was snow, but it was no problem.
Same thing in 2008 when I heard the same
Fuller Ridge horror stories. Fortunately
this time I just giggled and hiked Fuller
Ridge with no probs just in trail runners.
I think Thruhiking is more about flexibility
and adaptation than anything else. Adapt as you
go and embrace change.
"Damn they don´t have pancakes for breakfast?!"
"Let´s have an extra breakfast burrito!"
->PCT 2008 Campo to Manning
->PCT 2006 Campo to KMJan 25, 2011 at 7:17 pm #1688433
@davidlutzLocale: Bay Area
The first thing that comes to my mind are the creek/river crossings.
I would like to know more about that……Jan 25, 2011 at 9:27 pm #1688486
This article was great. Hopefully there will be more coming. As an aspiring thru-hiker, I love hearing the stories of those who have done it. Fear is only relative and this report further supports that.Jan 26, 2011 at 2:00 am #1688538
@dirk9827Locale: Pacific Northwest
I really enjoyed the article. I believe it captures a lot of emotion one feels while on the PCT. I think everyone who starts the trail for the first time is anxious and a bit overwhelmed in the beginning. I was amazed at the number of people I met on the PCT who were backpacking for the first time. Oh, they might have taken their gear out for an overnighter prior to the big hike, but still, it always strikes me as one heck of an introduction to backpacking.Jan 26, 2011 at 2:36 am #1688540
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Thanks for the well done write up!Jan 26, 2011 at 3:42 am #1688544
Ryan, that was my hope in writing this (and the next three) article(s). There's way too much fear mongering out there. It's not easy, but it's been done many times before.
Thanks for reading, everybody! Stay tuned in the next few weeks for the rest. And in the meantime, I know many of you have plenty of stories as well…Jan 26, 2011 at 7:23 am #1688578
Great info and narrative, especially looking forward to your postings on the Sierras and JMT!!Jan 26, 2011 at 7:52 am #1688591
@idahomtmanLocale: Northern Idaho
Great article. One of the best I've read on the PCT and, more importantly, the "vortex of fear." While it is reasonable to be cautious and listen, you have to analyze the experience of the person providing "advice." If you are experienced and knowledgeable, hike on and wait until you get there to analyze the situation for yourself.
I'm looking forward to the next installments. Thanks.Jan 26, 2011 at 8:04 am #1688599
Very interesting piece and quite well written imo. Thanks for taking the time and effort to write this up.
I have read some other trail journals from people that went through around the same time including somebody who went through right before that fire started up from the cooking stove.
I really enjoy your viewpoint and ideas on the fear and how it spread from hiker to hiker. Great perspective.Jan 26, 2011 at 8:06 am #1688601
I truly enjoyed your article.
Ryan, Was your Railrider shirt, LS silk and Thermawrap enough to keep you warm?Jan 26, 2011 at 8:56 am #1688625
Wow photos are amazing and really capture the wonder and beauty of those landscapes. It's a good read too and I see that we still have the Sierra to look forward to. Thanks for sharing all of this with us.Jan 26, 2011 at 10:14 am #1688649
@ryleybLocale: Pacific Northwest
This is soooo relevant to my interests – I'm preparing for a CDT hike right now and getting a little bogged down in its version of the vortex. Fortunately, this well timed article along with input from some past CDT hikers has reminded me that back in reality, I'll find a way to get through it all. Probably with a huge smile on my face too!Jan 26, 2011 at 10:20 am #1688652
Very well done. I'm looking forward to the next installments. I won't be able to do this hike for a while (starting a family), so its fun to read about the experiences of others.Jan 26, 2011 at 1:42 pm #1688710
@socalpackerLocale: Southern California
Wow! I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. One of my dreams is to hike the PCT. I have been planning it for the last 2 years and it looks like the most extended hike I'll be able to put in is one month straight per year along with weekend and one & two week sections here and there. Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future, it's nearly impossible to find 6 months off. So, I've decided to do it in sections as my schedule allows starting this year.
Thanks again. That was very inspiring!Jan 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm #1688719
Thank you so much for writing this article, I really enjoyed it. That balancing act between fear and moving forward, too often we choose fear!
JeffJan 26, 2011 at 2:51 pm #1688740
@hikin_jimLocale: Orange County, CA, USA
That was a very well written report and well illustrated. Thanks for taking the time to put something so nice together.
HJJan 26, 2011 at 3:34 pm #1688758
@swimjayLocale: Northern California
Unfortunately, when people give advice, or attempt to characterize some possible future for another person, they–usually responsibly–typically give worst-case-scenario characterizations, because no one wants to lead someone else into a bad situation with no fore-warning. (The opposite, in climbing, is called sand-bagging, where one person deliberately minimizes the difficulty of a route another climber is going to attempt, so that, when the climber finds it difficult, he's in awe of the person who–theoretically–found it easy.)
In the National Park System, things are even worse, because rangers don't want to have to come out to rescue you if you get in trouble. So if what you propose to do is at all sketchy, (like going off-trail), they amp up the dangers, and, more subtly, question your preparedness. It's all part of the overhead of humans trying to communicate with each other and not lead each other astray.
Then, as Ryan observed, in a group, things can spiral out of control as this over-cautious advice gets passed back and forth.
Excellent article, one that captures the reality of a long through hike as well as I've ever seen it captured. Thanks, Ryan!!
BTW, what's a bounce box?Jan 26, 2011 at 3:40 pm #1688764
It holds extra supplies like batteries and gets bounced up the trail ahead of you to the next or later trail town.
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