Feb 15, 2011 at 1:25 pm #1269206
Companion forum thread to:Feb 15, 2011 at 1:43 pm #1697019
@suttreeLocale: ON, CANADA
>so the best you can do is to get out on the trail and learn about it for yourself.
Time to go hiking…Feb 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm #1697026
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
Thanks for the four articles!
Too bad it was so rainy in Washington, that's such nice scenery.
I was walking around Mount Hood Sept 2 to 6, I must have just missed you, but I did talk to a couple through hikers.Feb 15, 2011 at 2:29 pm #1697032
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
Wonderful series, Ryan. Thanks for all the inspiration.
RickFeb 15, 2011 at 2:40 pm #1697035
Kathy A HandysideParticipant
@earlymusicusLocale: Southeastern Michigan
I can't express my appreciation to you, Ryan, for posting this wonderful series! Thanks so very much. I felt like I was right along, hiking behind you. You are that good of a writer. I dream of doing the PCT sometime, but that won't be for a few years – at which time I will be in my early 60s and will probably have to do it in sections, rather than one long haul. Still, I want to do it. I so want to do it. Thanks again and I look forward to other stories by you about future hikes.Feb 15, 2011 at 2:54 pm #1697041
@junkLocale: The Great Lake State
Great job, I enjoyed reading every installment. One of the best articles that has ever been on BPL.Feb 15, 2011 at 3:04 pm #1697047
IMO definitely the humidity …
i could get away with temps in the rockies that i cant on the coast with my down clothing …Feb 15, 2011 at 4:03 pm #1697073
@richard295Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Bravo! Excellent adventure and excellent writing!Feb 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm #1697093
I have a stupid question….. Did you need your Passport to cross into Canada? I hear that's how you get out of there. I'm aware of the "Application for Entry to Canada Via the Pacific Crest Trail" permit. THANKSFeb 15, 2011 at 4:31 pm #1697096
@rcarverLocale: Southeast TN
Ryan, great writing. Really enjoyed all the articles.Feb 15, 2011 at 5:04 pm #1697109
@sschloss1Locale: New England
I guess I can't complain any more that we had 4 days of rain in Washington on my thru-hike…
Thanks for the article. That brought back a lot of great memories.Feb 15, 2011 at 5:59 pm #1697138
Thanks again for a brilliant series Ryan.
What shocked me about Washington was the cumulative effect of hiking day after day in wet weather. What surprised me were the mice. It was a constant war fighting them off and I could never get a peaceful sleep because they were always on the offensive.
The most amazing thing about the PCT is how kind strangers are. The friendships on the trail, folks picking me up hitching, angels welcoming me into their homes or driving me back to the trail, people doing trail maintenance, kind people in towns when I looked indigent, the people who stock the caches, provide water reports and free maps, and run the kickoff. I am surely missing many dozens of people. The kindness was overwhelming and life altering. Thank you all.Feb 15, 2011 at 7:11 pm #1697174
Great writing, Ryan.
It took me until your last article to realize that you and I hiked together on the section between Timberline Lodge and Lolo Pass last year (I think we also hiked with 'The Graduate'). I was the weekend hiker with the big white dog which made my ford over the Sandy river that much more interesting.
Glad you made it!Feb 15, 2011 at 8:10 pm #1697203
The last four Tuesdays have ended so nicely with reading your epic PCT account. Your parting words "Take any ideas people give out as just that – ideas. There is no perfect way to do anything in backpacking, so the best you can do is to get out on the trail and learn about it for yourself." are so appropriate. But thanks too as I know we all appreciate your blow-by-blow account and how your gear worked. Very inspiring to say the least. Somebody said earlier, one of the best reads on BPL. I'll echo that and add I think it is the best read on BPL. Ryan, thanks for sharing it all with us.Feb 15, 2011 at 8:36 pm #1697211
Ryan, I noticed you have two forms of water purification, that to me seems mostly the same. Can you explain that for me. Not sure why?Feb 15, 2011 at 9:21 pm #1697233
@pittsburghLocale: Bay Area
"The end was so close we could taste it, but right now it tasted like rain."
Awesome stuff Ryan, and again, the gear reviews at the end have been helpful. After months of reconfiguring & studying, I was encouraged to find my gear list very similar, section by section. As a first time thru-hiker this is very assuring! Thank you very much for the time you spent on this series.
One thing I wondered about was how your footwear held up. What did you wear on your feet, how did they perform, would you have done anything differently? Everyones feet are so different, as are the weights & displacements/gait & hiking styles, but I'd love your personal take. I have my set-up already, but my curiosity needs to know! :).
Thanks again!Feb 16, 2011 at 3:47 am #1697291
@einsteinxLocale: The Netherlands
I haven't gone out hiking since a long Pentecost weekend in 2010. Reading your articles definitely reaffirm that I need to go out asap. I hope this year I can get a TMB fast pack and a section hike of the Swiss part of the Via Alpina's red trail under my belt.
EinsFeb 16, 2011 at 4:40 am #1697296
Thanks again for all the comments, everyone. I'll see what I can do to answer a few of the questions/comments.
-Kathy: I think I've said it before, but I'll say it again. Section hiking affords some major benefits over through-hiking, so I hope it works out great for you. Also, I've met a heck of a lot of 60+ through- and section-hikers on various trails, and they always seem to be having the best time out of anyone I've met!
-Eric Chan: Yeah, definitely the humidity. Probably at least a little bit due to running out of fat reserves and natural insulation along the way, too. By the end I was not too happy about the idea of eating more hiker food. I just wanted a slab of meat and fresh vegetables.
-John: Passport… well, I know you need it to get back in to the US if you plan on going through Vancouver (which I did). If you plan on going to Manning Park lodge and then hiking back into the US, it would also probably be a good idea. But there's no border guard at the PCT crossing. I probably shouldn't say any more.
-Patrick: Amen to the kindness of others. I heard you'll be on the CDT in 2013… I don't know if I'll be able to make it, but it would be really great to hike with you again!
-Eric Ross: I keep my identity hidden :) It was nice to meet you!
-Warren: I ordered five bottles of Aqua Mira drops at the beginning of the PCT and kept the spares in my bounce box. I also had a pile of the solid tabs left over from the New England Trail the previous year. I kept a few in my first aid kit as back up, and then when the liquid drops ran out I switched entirely to the solid ones.
-Dug: My usual advice for future through hikers is "don't listen to anything that anybody says!" But I guess that's a little extreme, so I've toned it down to this. Glad you liked it.
As for my footwear: I started with my trusty NewBalance 811's (Campo to Idyllwild), then switched to Montrail Mountain Masochists (Idyllwild to Mammoth), then back to NewBalance 909's (Mammoth to Old Station) once I figured my feet were okay since I hadn't had any blisters in a while. Then back to the Montrails (Old Station to Cascade Locks), and then I decided to switch things up a bit at the end and tried Vasque Blurs (Cascade Locks to Canada). My feet just don't seem to agree with the PCT– they were getting blistered up practically everywhere except the Sierras. I think having constantly wet feet in that section actually helped keep my feet healthy (weird, since the opposite is usually true back home). I'm not a certain what made the NB's work less well out west than in the east, but here are the differences I saw: I went with a snugger fit and stiffer soles in the Masochists and Blurs, which seemed to help. The trail tread on the PCT was generally dry, gravelly, dusty, and/or sandy, versus softer/springier dirt (or mud) and solid slab rock on the AT. Different shoes for different trails, I guess.
Whew. That's a lot. Cheers, everyone!Feb 16, 2011 at 8:05 am #1697354
Well done! Outstanding series of articles. Thanks for sharing your experience.Feb 16, 2011 at 9:44 am #1697387
@brianleLocale: Pacific NW
Reading accounts about other people's thru-hikes generally leaves me with the sense that all NOBO PCT thru-hikes are alike. Of course the individual experience in terms of attitude, company, weather, encounters (human and animal) are different, but so much seems and feels the same, sometimes even down to specific experiences. I live in WA state, and the fellow I started hiking with from White Pass northwards joked with me that Mt. Rainier was invented by locals as a marketing ploy — we didn't see it until Needle Sight Gap just after Snoqualmie Pass. I had been telling other thru's about all the wonderful berries in WA state in August, but not that year (2008). You didn't mention crossing the Suiattle River, however, so I wonder if that and the giant log blowdown north of Milk Creek were the same fun last year?
I also broke the lower section of my carbon fiber pole after about 3000 miles of use, though for me it was slipping on the first patch of ice in the Smokies last year. I've switched now to use the lightest titanium poles that Leki sell (and guarantee for life).
But even apart from specifics like this, there just seem to be so many more similarities than differences when looking at and reading someone else's NOBO thru account.
You definitely had a better camera than me, however, and/or better ability at using it; I'm sticking with my cell phone for this coming year, albeit an upgrade.
It's fun seeing a thru-hike account summarized like this in four sections; I'm sure that discipline made you think through your daily journal to pick & choose experiences to make it work in that format.
Any chance you'll be documenting a CDT thru next year? :-)Feb 16, 2011 at 11:02 am #1697419
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
+1Feb 16, 2011 at 11:51 am #1697440
Thanks for sharing your PCT adventure with us. It was well written and entertaining to read. I really enjoyed your sharing it with us. When I was hiking through the Goat Rocks, I met some former thru-hikers who were doing some section hiking. Like you they had missed many great views due to rain and had come back out to see what they had missed. They were very happy that they had done so. I hope you'll get a chance to do so when its clear.
For my own PCT hike, Washington (except for the first few days) was the most scenic trail after the High Sierra. It's only tough due to a "flat" Oregon preceeding it had robbed me of some of the strength used for tough climbs since my muscles had thought I was done with using them. Some friends who finished 2weeks ahead of me had alot of rain, but I had almost no rain as I hiked through Washington until I encountered some snow at the every end. So it can be all about luck as some hike in a window of clear weather while others in a window of clouds and rain. The only view I missed was a cloud covered Knife's Edge in the Goat Rocks.
If I ever go out to do a section of the PCT again, Washington is near the top of my list. Grazing on fresh berries, seeing the bright red colors of the bushes covering the hillsides in mid to late September, the steep mountains and tall volcanoes in the distance was hard to beat on my own thru-hike.Feb 16, 2011 at 7:32 pm #1697624
Interesting point, Brian. I only heard stories about how sunny and clear Washington usually is (and the few times I'd been there already were practically cloudless), so I felt at the time like I was getting a raw deal there. But I guess there are only three ways for the weather to be: nice, bad, or somewhere in between.
About the river crossings in Washington: all the bridges were in place except the Suiattle, which was the notorious log. No problem at all, as far as I saw. The log was nothing to worry about, which seemed to be the general consensus among hikers.
I definitely had a strict dedication to my journal, because I actually go back to my journals sometimes. Someone who did even better was one of my hiking pals Tom Jamrog, whose trailjournals account was hugely popular last summer. I hear he'll be on the CDT in 2013. I'd love to join him then, but it will take a miracle of planning for me to get out there. I'll see what I can do :)Feb 17, 2011 at 2:18 am #1697721
I'm wondering if you use your gaiters every day or how you decide when to use them? (Desert, Sierra snow, rain, volcanic dust, etc.)
I have used gaiters on and off for many years. Great in snow obviously, but not the shortie gaiters. But I get more blisters when my feet sweat and gaiters make them sweat more, esp. the Gore-tex kind. I also get more blisters when there's a bunch of grit in my shoes. I use trail running shoes, mostly vasque blur the last 3 years. This last year I switched to dirty girl gaiters. They seem cooler and keep grit out of my shoes in the dustier parts, but I scuffed holes through the inner (medial) sides of them after 3-4 weeks and they were kind of worthless in the rain.
PS–met your friend Tangent in central OR, prob. leap-frogged both of you in central WA. Dys-feng shui-nal (section hiker)Feb 17, 2011 at 4:15 am #1697726
Unless I'm snowshoeing, I only use dirtygirl gaiters, and I've been using them daily for a couple years now (when hiking, I mean… not just everyday use). You basically said it right there: they keep the twigs and pebbles and dirt out of the sneakers but are otherwise light enough to be barely noticeable. Being useless against rain is kind of the point. Waterproof gaiters with non-waterproof sneakers doesn't really make any sense. The lycra of the dirtygirls dries quickly, and is nice and breathable.
I usually get a month or two of constant use out of them before they break down, which is fine by me. They were $17 per pair last time I ordered them, so it's not a huge hit to get two or three pairs per summer.
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