What I would do different!!
As I am from the UK I didn’t have friends or family to send me resupply boxes so I brought as I went
To be honest this worked extremely well and this is the way I would do it again but with a few tweaks as some town that promised a lot delivered very little!!!
It does take a while for you to find out what you are eating, quantities etc. and you can go off a food very quickly, So I would suggest variety is the key
when planning your resupply check Post office opening times. I seemed to waste so much time waiting for the post office to open on Monday when I’d got to town on Friday evening
so also check alternatives i.e. shops and possible angels that can receive packages but also check to see if there is a charge for them to hold your packages
I also got a bit confused with USPS and UPS as some places only accept packages from USPS others only from UPS so double check
When I hiked there was a fire ban and no alcohol stoves so I used gas or (propane/ butane) for my American followers. In some rural places these where as scarce as hen’s teeth so I would suggest adding a canister to your resupply box but please note your package can only be sent as surface mail and so must be clearly marked on the address side with “Surface Only” or “Surface Mail Only” so be aware of time restraints
Towns eat money!!
This is what I started with and it evolved quite quickly
I started with pop tarts and instant oats and soon got sick of both
so I then began by buying cereal and adding things to it i.e. nuts, coconut, banana chips cranberries etc.
I then evolved to carrying a zip lock bag and mixed cereals together so it was always changing. In one town I would start with caption crunch then I would add a packet or two of instant oats from the hiker box, then nuts basically anything, the next town I would start with granola and then add things to that and so on. I would always carry milk power to add to this and of course for my tea
As my hike progressed and fruit became available e I would add half a cup of freshly picked blueberries or huckleberries yummy
I always thought lunches were disappointing, as they seemed boring but this is what I carried
Flour tortilla I soon found out what were the best brands (stayed soft the longest)
Pack of salami ,or summer sausage , ham or turkey.
8oz block of hard cheese, slices , grated and or cheese strings.
Peanut butter or chocolate spread.
mustard, mayo or ranch sauce.
I often left town with an onion, pepper, avocado and fruit usually an orange or apple or both.
later I discovered bagels , bit more bulky but they lasted well
I often ate packets of tuna and occasionally packets of “spam”
This is the meal that I always looked forward too. Maybe because my hiking was done for the day!!
I mainly ate Knorr sides, these were mixes of rice or pasta with flavourings
I then added either tuna, bacon bits, parmesan, salami, pumpkin seeds and or cranberries to the mix to make it a bit tastier. With often a good dash of chilli sauce
3 to 4 rice side (could be pasta to)
1 X macaroni cheese
1 X box of couscous
2 to 3 packets of tuna can be used for lunch to
1 x Packet of bacon bits
1X packet of pumpkin seeds
1 X packet of dried cranberries
1 X packet of parmesan
NB its does depend on how many days between resupply points!!!!
As well as all the above I carried: –
various cliff bars mainly coconut and macadamia nut
Laura bars, Snickers or other chocolate
Gummy bears, life savers etc.
Jolly Ranchers which I lived on (my favourite)
Breakfast bars loads
Crisps or chips mainly Cheetos
I also carried Gatorade powder, lemonade powder and other similar products
I started in boots, which were fine for me, they gave me good support, great traction not too hot and really looked after my feet. I may wear boots again but would go for lighter, as at the end of the day my feet felt like lead
I have to say that I seemed to be the only person who wore boots about 99% of other hikers wore “Trail runners” the main contenders being Merrells, Solomon’s, Wildcats ,Cascadia and Altars
When I switched from boots I went to Altars a pair of snow peaks , they fitted like a glove and felt like I was wearing slippers but they lasted two weeks before they were ripped to bits by the terrain I then switched to Solomon’s and wow these were my favourite and what I finished my hike in
I would suggest that you budget on at least 3 to 4 pairs unless your happy with toes sticking out and Gaffa tape holding them together.
but that option then wrecks your socks and eventually your feet
Please note that the lower profile of the trail runner doesn’t offer very much ankle support. However, if you’re tired of hot, heavy, hiking boots, pick up a pair of trail runners before your next backpacking trip–the difference in weight and comfort is noticeable
If I was doing this again!
Before I decided I was doing this Hike, I read many blogs one of my favourites was by a guy called Keith Fosset, he explained how to blag (get sponsorship) or free stuff from companies.
Now this is what I did and got about 80% of my kit for half price and occasionally free.
But do your research, let me say that again DO YOUR RESEARCH
As some of the kit that I acquired was fantastic, top of the range gear but far too heavy for the PCT which I sadly found out after my first week of real hiking, meaning I had to replace it which ate into my precious budget
So, people do more research and blag the right gear.
But in general, I was happy with my choices of kit and clothing
If you are from outside the USA it may be worth flying in without kit then spending the day in REI and buy all your kit from them,
WHY? – because it’s cheap in the US, when it breaks or gets damaged they replace it immediately no questions asked
and their service is totally amazing!!
Cons: – They don’t sell; all lightweight gear so it’s your choice
I will go into my budget in more detail on another page
Budgets are a personal thing; some people are happy to stay in posh hotel others are happy to rough it.
Some can do the trail on a few Dollars others need to spend thousands
But I would strongly advise you to have a reasonable budget and maybe a contingency or spare credit card
My Budget was £ 4000, this was for the trail, food, postage, meals hotels and kit replacement. It did not include the kit I arrived with or flights.
At the time I was thinking I should cancel, save up more money and go the following year. But then I probably would never have hiked the PCT, also the film Wild was coming out which may have meant more hikers wanting to hike (which it did)
To make my money accessible in the US I used two cards, Fairfax and Caxton
I put £2,000 on each card, 1 card for the first half and the second for the remainder, both cards worked well, I also carried a handful of dollars as some towns would not accept credit cards
Again, coming from England, I was on a tight budget so brought spare kit with me in a bounce box.
A bounce box is a box, or can be a bucket/Pail that you put spare gear, Kit and food in and you Post it up the trail. (Bounce) but when you get to that location and don’t need it, you post or bounce it to the next location as it’s free. You keep repeating this till you need it. Although once you remove it from the post office you have pay again
In hindsight I could have trimmed the contents down quite considerably
I brought almost a whole Pharmacy with me as I had weak knees and the meds were prescription only in the UK. But in America they were cheap and available over the counter.
I would however recommend getting two courses of antibiotics from your DR and 1 course of Anti Giardia treatment flan Flagyl® (hopefully you will not need)
I didn’t bring any Antibiotics and so I had such a fun time trying to see a DR when my toe went septic so add this to your list.
I did bring the meds for Giardia treatment but luckily didn’t need them!!!
I thought that I had done plenty of research on this when I say phone I really mean service provider. Before I came out I joined several blogs and asked many questions
and at the “TIME” At&T was the company to go for so I signed up for pay as u go monthly and because I wanted to update my blog in the wilderness I went with 2 GB of data that cost me $60 a month which I thought was good value at the time until I found out that I could get the same deal but cheaper from Wal-Mart!!!!
AT&T turned out to be rubbish I very rarely got a signal unless I was in a very large town. Yes, the wireless worked well but hey that’s free, so do you home work when I was on the trail Smokes a long-time hiking buddy had his service with Verizon and seemed to have service anywhere and I mean anywhere!!!!!
I started with an amazing water filter a Katadyn Pro But it was just too heavy to carry so I swapped it out as soon as possible and went for the Sawyer mini squeeze filter
This was a great device although extremely slow especially when you had to filter a lot of water
I carried a 3 liter bladder and two, one liter smart water bottle which I used to speed up water filtering ( smart water are the preferred bottles as they are tall and slim and easily fit into the sides of your pack)
whilst on the trail I noticed other people had the bigger version of the Sawyer which filters water more quickly so go for the bigger version if you can get it
But honestly from Kennedy meadows I stopped filtering water. I used springs, melt water and fast running creeks. I did however carry a small bottle of bleach if I had to get water from lakes that I wasn’t too sure of the quality ,but only my drinking water. Water for cooking stayed unfiltered well its going to get boiled !!
but do what FEELS RIGHT FOR YOU
Please note sometimes water is abundant other times its scarce
In the desert there are 20 mile stretches with no water and so you rely on water caches put out by amazing Trail or carry extra water
How I Hiked
There is a saying on the PCT “Hike Your Own Hike. Or abbreviated HYOH
Whether you’re a green newbie or an experienced hiker everyone will offer you advice, it’s up to your which bits you take notice off, the main thing is to listen to your body
when i first started on the PCT i tried to keep up with everyone , but this was a mistake i just kept burning myself out …… So then i decided too just walk , hiked at my own pace and I was much happier …….
Once I had a few weeks under my belt I was averaging 20 miles a day, I was not a fast hiker I was not in a race although many hikers appeared to be. I wanted to enjoy the trail, take it all its beauty as this was perhaps a once in a life time adventure.
When I first started I was on the trail by 7 am although many hikers started at 5 am and earlier !! I normally walked to about 5 pm then camped, but as my fitness improved I was on trail by 5.45 am and hiking until to 6 pm, although I began to look for a flat spot around 5.30 pm . Sometimes I found one instantly, other times I had to walk for another hour and occasionally two!!
In Oregon my mileage began to climb and I was regularly doing 28’s and occasionally 32’s, there were days I could have hiked on well into the evening, on other days I stopped early and enjoyed the scenery and sunset
I would say the more miles you can cover the less food that you have to carry , you can camp early and relax more.
Section = 100 miles
20 miles per day = 5 Days
25 miles per day = 4 days means carrying 1 days less food
But again sometime a extra day of food is good as it means that if you find a great spot . You could take a zero rather than a town … It is your Hike
A fellow hiker called Foxy didn’t ever get on the trail till 12-30/ 1 pm then hiked on in the dark till 9 pm. It’s up to you, how you hike. I typically hiked on my own, I could stop when I want, take photos when I wanted etc. but occasionally I walked with other hikers. I found this pulled me along as we encouraged each other, also it’s nice to have the company. As I didn’t have the speed of other hikers I often agreed to try and camp with them at mile “XXX” I then attempted to get there , sometimes arriving an hour or two later , but happy to have the accompanied and chow down with buddies