I’ve been posting about this long walk that we’re taking this summer, a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, click here for a quick overview.
Go ahead, we’ll wait.
Well, as you can imagine, a 5-6 month hike doesn’t just happen. For some, sure, it can be done. Especially if they already have all of the right equipment and a bit of background doing this.
That could be us.
In a couple of years.
But for now, we need a plan. Enough of a plan that Goddess is comfortable with our general direction. Why she trusts me to do this, I’ll never know.
Perhaps it’s curiosity.
Luckily there are hundreds of hikers that make the same trek every year. Some multiple times. Others glean information from all of their hiker friends and do things like write guide books for the rest of us. One such hiker has a trial name of “Yogi”. Yogi’s book is the Bible for the PCT (she does one for the Continental Divide Trial [CDT] also).
The best part is that she updates her book every year. For folks like us who bought last year’s book to try to get an idea of what we were getting ourselves into, she’s kind enough to post a summary of changes. I can then pencil in the changes without having to buy this year’s book.
The level of detail is just crazy. Although not mile-by-mile, it might as well be. Every known water spot, every known road crossing, every known spot to resupply (more in a later post) is listed in the book. It sure helps those of us that aren’t familiar with the trail and the towns.
So Yogi’s book is the Bible. While it gives us the overview and the details, it doesn’t do much to help build a schedule. That’s where Craig comes in.
Craig first hiked the PCT in 1996. Planning for that hike, he built a schedule on a spreadsheet compiling as much data as he could. Eventually he ported it over to a web-based program and he puts it out there for us to use for free, although donations are appreciated.
Craig’s PCT Planner starts off simply enough – enter a start date and press “go”. After that it’s easy to get buried in the weeds. That’s where I’ve been for several months now.
This is how it looks graphically:
And for those of you in the know about this sort of hiking, that is not our plan. Most quick hikers at the front of the pack are not averaging 24.5 miles per day through the Sierras, even if they were doing that through the 700 miles prior to these sections.
Not to mention that this plan would be leaving Kennedy Meadows and entering the Sierras almost a month earlier than conventional wisdom, ensuring a lot of deep snow to push through. No thanks.
We’ll be much slower than that, likely only covering 15 miles per day through this stretch in mid-June, a month later than depicted. But that’s OK, we’ll make up for it later in northern California and Oregon.
For the detailed planning that I’m doing now, the graphical display is nice but hard to follow. Instead I export the data into a spreadsheet, just like Craig used in the beginning.
That’s where the Devil is.
In that spreadsheet.
A lot of details and a lot of things to stress over, if I was to stress over those things. But the one thing I do know is that no matter how much planning I do now, it doesn’t matter once we start walking.
As Craig cautions – “Just because you carried four cases of beer into the woods that one time 15 years ago does not mean you can still do it now“.
For us, the days will evolve however they will. We’ll adapt or we won’t.
In other words, while I’m doing quite a bit of planning, I constantly keep military strategist Helmuth von Moltke The Elder‘s paraphrased quote in the back of my head:
No plan survives contact with the [trail].
In other words – one step at a time, one day at a time.
We’ll get there.