The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is the Appalachian Trail’s more isolated, lonelier western counterpart. For almost 2700 miles the PCT runs from Mexico to Canada. It follows the crests of the mountain ranges in California, Oregon, and Washington, crossing 27 National Forests and 7 National Parks. At the border between Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park, the PCT reaches its highest elevation, 13,200 feet. More information on the PCTA website here.
Thru hiking refers to hikers who complete long distance trails from end-to-end in a single trip. Unfortunately this is not me. I will be considered a section hiker because I am only doing a section of the trail. One day, fingers crossed.
There are three long-distance trails in the US: Appalachian Trail (AT), Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Completing all three is known as the “Triple Crown.” Note: if you ever meet a “Triple Crowner” buy him or her beer(s); they are undoubtably a badass. Maybe after the PCT I’ll do a section of the CDT and call myself a “Tripler Ringer” or “Triple Bracelete.” Get it?
I will start Saturday, June 15th in Walker Pass at mile 652 (50 miles NE of Bakersfield, CA) and end Thursday, August 22nd in Ashland, OR at mile 1727. Officially, 1075 miles in 68 days. Unofficially, who knows. Maybe 1200? 1500? The beauty of the PCT is it’s remoteness. Meaning to resupply food and take “zero days” we need to hike or hitch into towns as far as 50 miles away. I’ll keep up with my total milage, that you can be sure of.
Over the years long distance hikers have developed a unique shared vocabulary. During my first trail experience on the AT I was totally oblivious at the beginning, but quickly learned how to yack with the best of em’. Below are the most common examples.
Trail name – A name given to you by the trail community. Each name is unique and often reflects an aspect of your personality or a memorable event on the trail. Once you receive a trail name, you assume that name, and that name only, for the duration of the hike, and for future hikes.
Trail angel – A kind, generous stranger who assists hikers, providing rides to town, coolers of cold drinks on the trail, stocking water caches, offering their home for the night, or performing other sorts of trail magic.
Trail magic – Unexpected wonderful surprises along the trail. Many of these are provided by trail angels.
Purist – A hiker who doesn’t flip flop, take alternative routes, or follow detours. The purist walks the main trail from beginning to end.
Flip flop – Temporarily skipping a section (often due to snow) and returning to finish the skipped section later.
Slack packing – Hiking a portion of the trail without overnight gear. This requires somebody with a car to shuttle you or your gear.
Cowboy camping – Falling asleep under the stars without setting up a tent.
Water cache – A spot along the trail where trail angels leave large bottles of water. Water caches are located in areas where hikers have little or no access to natural water sources. Without caches, hikers would sometimes have to travel 40 miles or more between water sources.
Dry camp – Camping in a location that does not have water.
Bounce box – A box or bucket which a hiker mails to themselves repeatedly, “bouncing” it ahead along the trail. A bounce box might contain spare gear, a laptop, and/or clean clothes to wear in town.
Hiker box – A container in town, into which hikers can place unwanted food, clothing, or other items. Other hikers are free to take these items.
Zero day – A zero-mileage day. These are important periodically for healing and recharging. If a zero day is taken in a town, it often includes resupplying food, eating, repairing gear, doing laundry, and more eating.
Nero day – A partial zero day. A nero day might involve hiking half the day and spending the rest of the day in town.
AYCE - An acryonym meaning All You Can Eat. Referring to buffets in towns that are often the best way to fill your belly on a budget.
HYOH – An acronym meaning Hike Your Own Hike. Each hiker walks at their own pace and develops their own methods for living in the wilderness. Hikers encourage diversity in approaches by telling each other to HYOH.
Note: This list was altered, but originally from a hiking blog, Wandering the Wild. Check it out.