PCT Thru-hike 2015, By the Numbers

A bit later than we had hoped (like our finishing the hike), but we’ve been busy.

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Campo, CA - 4/12/2015

Southern Terminus, Campo, CA – 4/12/2015

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Northern Terminus, Manning Park, British Columbia – 9/25/2015

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Mount Ashland/Hwy 99 Trailhead – 10/20/2015

The Miles
Campo, CA to Ashland, OR – 1,716
Cascade Locks, OR to Manning Park, BC – 515
Cascade Locks, OR to Ashland, OR – 428

The Elevation Gain
Campo, CA to Ashland, OR – 314,206′
Cascade Locks, OR to Manning Park, BC – 111,095′
Cascade Locks, OR to Ashland, OR – 61,912′

Total Elevation Gain = 487,213′
Mount Everest Summit = 29,209′
Number of Everest’s climbed = 16.7

The Days
April 12 – October 20, 2015 = 192
Zero Days = 26
Hiking Days = 166

Average Miles per Day
192 Days = 13.8
166 Days = 15.7

Favorite Parts
Jen –
CA – Vasquez Rocks County Park
OR – Three Sisters Wilderness
WA – Northern Cascades

Bill –
CA – Sonora Pass Region
OR – Mount Jefferson – Three Sisters Wilderness
WA – Northern Cascades

Supplies
Pairs of shoes (each) = 5
Pairs of socks used = 12
Pairs of pants/kilts = 7
Pairs of underwear = 5
Number of shirts = 3
Number of backpacks used = 5
Number of tents used = 1
Number of NSAIDS taken = 0

FAQ’S
With weather being such a big factor, why did you choose to hike northbound instead of southbound? During the planning stage, months ahead of the actual hike, the weather encountered is anybody’s guess. So we look at averages.  The biggest factor is water, with the Southern California stretch being most problematic. Heading northbound in April, many water sources are already drying up, even after a normal winter.  If we had gone southbound, we wouldn’t have been able to start until mid-June, based on average snowpack in the Washington Cascades. That would have got us into the Southern California desert in October/November after a dry summer.  By then, even the most reliable water sources could be stressed or completely dried up, meaning much longer water carries than we experienced going northbound.  While there were many other considerations going into our choice to hike northbound, water availability was the largest determining factor.

How much weight did you lose? Good question, since neither one of us focused on it.  We knew we would lose weight, but didn’t weigh in before or after.  But it wasn’t insignificant. Jen went from a snug size 14 to very comfortable in size 2 clothes.  I have a similar story – I was stretching the limits of a 36″ waistband, but two days after we finished, I was able to comfortably slide into a pair of 28″ waist jeans that Jen had bought for herself. Guesstimating a weight loss tally for the both of us, we figure we lost the equivalent of a 7th grader.  The downside is now having to buy clothes that fit.

How did you keep things powered for the hike?  Early on we used solar chargers, but didn’t have much success.  Our first charger with built-in battery was dead on arrival; the company offered to refund our money only if we removed our negative review of the product. The review stands.  Then we learned of a different company that made similar solar charges with built-in batteries.  We ordered one and it worked great, but it didn’t have enough capacity for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 that we were using for photography, blogging and navigation. Then a fellow hiker passed on a solar panel after he had upgraded.  This solar panel worked great for us through Southern California and into the Sierra.  Then we dealt with a week of daily rain showers and thunderstorms, so had very little opportunity to charge, which did cause some issues.  We continued to have issues through Northern California as we spent most of our days in the forest, then dealt with thick smoke.  For Oregon and Washington we switched to a portable battery that had enough capacity to charge the phone at least five times.  When we would get into a town, we would recharge the battery.  In those two states we never worried about the phone.  If it got low, an hour or so on the battery and the phone was completely recharged.  For those that are curious, it was an Anker 15,000 mAh battery.  Totally worth the weight penalty over a straight solar panel.

Hitchhiking?  Aren’t you afraid?  Well, initially, especially since we had never done it.  But soon it was a very comfortable way to travel. Most of the roads that we had to hitch were traveled mainly by locals who knew what we were doing (even now we wouldn’t consider hitching at an Interstate rest stop).  Rarely did we get picked up by anyone who wasn’t aware of the trail and hikers.

What’s the next adventure? What’s next on the bucket list? What are you going to do to top this?  Neither one of us have a bucket list, instead taking things as they come.  We’ll continue to live and do the things we enjoy without a need to “top this”.

When are you doing the AT/CDT, or your next thru-hike.? We aren’t.  We enjoyed our experience, but won’t do one like that again.  Instead, we see the value in shorter section hikes of up to a month where we don’t feel the need to crank out 25+ mile days just to finish.  It will be nice to do 12-15 mile days where we would have the time to swim in all of those lakes that we passed.

Thank you to all of you that supported us along the way!

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4 thoughts on “PCT Thru-hike 2015, By the Numbers”

  1. It was so AWESOME to wake up this morning to a bonus PCT rambling. And it was filled with all kind of numbers and answers to questions that I had. Love the picture of you kissing in the moon light! Thank you! It got my day started right.! Now I think I’ll go for an amble in the rain.

    1. I hadn’t forgot your question of months ago. We finished with almost everything that we started. We were lucky to have very experienced mentors guide us before the hike.

  2. I am so impessed! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this summary. During you entire trip planning and hike, I admired your thoroughness, flexibility and tenacity! Oh yeah, and I was super-impressed that Jen chose you to stay around with her AFTER the hike……hehehe!

    Peace My Friends! We hope to see you again soon!

  3. Missing the updates and very appreciative of the summary. Bet you’ve eaten, rested, showered, appreciating all the things the rest of us take for granted. So pleased to have followed your journey.

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