FAQs – You’re hiking the Pacific Crest Trail?!
While I prepare to jump on a plane with less than 10kg of gear in my bag, everyone is left wondering HOW I’m going to survive living in the wilderness for the next 6 months. The common questions I get when people learn about the PCT include:
What are you taking?
The bare minimum. I have listed my pack list online which you can view here . But yes, you are reading it correct, only 2 pairs of undies and 3 pairs of socks for 6 months….one to wear and one to wash and dry. I’ve added my gear spread below so you can see the items I’m taking, which all packs down into a 60L bag.
How heavy will your pack be?
The weight will depend greatly on which section of the PCT I’m on. Base weight refers to the weight of everything excluding food, water and fuel. So this includes a pack, tent, sleep system, cookware, clothes and electronics. I have a base weight of 7.5kg and am expecting to carry around 15kg with food and water included. The start of the trip will be closer to 17kg as the desert requires 6-8L of water to be carried for most sections, it’s expected to be days without a water source to refill. Later I’ll be adding snow equipment as I enter the Sierra Nevada, using a bear canister to store food, micro spikes to walk in and an ice axe for snow safety, though luckily my water capacity can drop back down to 3L.
Sooo you’re sleeping in a tent?
Yep – I’m lucky enough to be living in the wilderness, out in the elements under the stars, wind, sunshine and anything else that comes my way. The odd night in a hotel will happen in towns (cause you deserve it girl), but for the most part I’m sleeping off-track at a tent site each night. No toilets, no facilities, just me in a patch of dirt…or snow….or pine needles.
What will you do for food?
Every 4 – 8 days I’ll be able to replenish my food at a resupply point. I’ll either be hitch hiking off the trail or coming across a town where I can shop or pick up a delivery. I have 47 scheduled resupplies with 11 of them planned to be posted ahead to myself. Meals will consist predominantly of dehydrated meals, porridge, mash, crackers with meats and cheeses, wraps with spreads etc. It’s going to be fairly repetitive, but there is still a lot of choice within those parameters and other similar items. High calorie will be key to each meal.
How about water?
For the most part I’ll be using the natural water sources along the way. Rivers, streams, snow, caches and springs will be used to refill bottles after being filtered through a Sawyer Squeeze filter. Questionable sources are boiled first, and town water will be used when available…but that’s the minority of the time.
The first month through the desert water capacity will be up around 6-8 Ls, but further into the trip water will become more and more available meaning capacity can drop down to just 2L and collected as needed from the rivers I’ll be walking next to.
How do you shower?
Short answer: I don’t. Explained: Baby wipe showers are an option, and as I get further into the trip I’ll be able to rinse myself downstream in rivers. Otherwise a damp bandanna will have to do. Gross I know, you’ll be able to smell me from home.
What about bears?
Yeah about that….I’m terrified. There are only meant to be brown bears out there, not grizzlies. That means they are “apparently” big scaredy cats and run away from humans. That being said, I need to use a bear canister to carry food and scented items through some sections, and will always sleep with food outside, hanging from a tree where possible. (Take the food not me). Mountain Lions (rare) and rattle snakes are also a risk, but don’t have me so worried.
They say everything in Australia is trying to kill you…but at least it’s not actively hunting you…
How long will it take, how far will you walk each day?
The trail is 4,265km. It’s going to take me roughly 5.5months averaging 25-30km per day. Rest days will be taken as needed, however locations haven’t yet been decided.
Will you be blogging?
Yes! I’m hoping to blog as I go, writing on the trail and uploading from my phone with any wifi I can find in towns during resupplies. If blog posts fall too far behind, I’ll be catching up once I return…I would love to have an online memory of the amazing experience.
How will you charge your phone?
I have a powerbank which I’ll charge during each resupply. This will be used for my phone and Garmin inReach (GPS/PLB/Satellite two-way text). I’ve reduced to just two electronics, utilising all features of my phone for camera, reading, writing etc and opting for a basic watch.
What luxury items are you taking?
The Garmin inReach will be a huge luxury with the text option enabling me to contact home at particularly challenging times. Moisturiser will be my second luxury item, I cringe at the thought of being in a desert without it. A pillow didn’t make the list, neither did a bowl, soap or extra clothes. I’ll be roughing it, but have will enough to still comfortably survive with, and will come back with a whole new perspective on what’s needed for a happy life.
How can I follow you?
Thanks to the Garmin inReach my journey will tracked daily, you can check out the link below to see where I am on the map.
What did your family say when you decided to hike the PCT?
My family have been amazingly supportive. Mums exact words were “I’m happy for you but sad for me”. It was a really hard decision to be leaving my pregnant twin sister, but after hours of crying together we both realised the importance of me living my life and fulfilling my dreams while she does the same.
They chipped in for my Garmin InReach, buying peace of mind so I could text and check in with them on the way. I leave in 1 week and there’s already a map on the fridge ready for my parents to trace the path as I go. I’m so lucky to have the support of everyone in my life.
What other questions do you have?? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll add them in!
Hey! It was fun watching your hike this summer on IG. I am planning for a PCT thru hike in 2020! I see that you used a fleece sleeping bag liner. That sounds like a brilliant idea! I would love to know if you used a 10 degree or 20 degree down sleeping bag. Your lighterpack link shows a cotton liner, did you switch on trail or start with the fleece prior to hiking? I dislike being cold, but am wondering if a 10 degree down quilt and fleece liner would be overkill. thoughts?
This is such a tough question since it all comes down to personal preference and if you’re a cold sleeper or not. Personally, I was in a 15F bag with the fleece liner and it was perfect. I started in a 30F bag and cotton liner and swapped out after freezing for my first 3 weeks. I hope that helps!