April 10, 2004
It’s springtime in North Idaho…that time of year when the Osprey return, the trees are budding and long distance hikers thoughts lightly turn to the nation’s “scenic trails”. This spring, the Walking Carrot and I are turning our thoughts towards the Pacific Crest Trail (aka the “PCT”)……
At nearly 2,700 miles the Pacific Crest trail presents a myriad of challenges, physical as well as mental and emotional. From its inception on the California/Mexico border to its anticlimactic conclusion at the Canadian frontier, there are many miles and many trials: the Mojave desert looms large, hot and dry; the Sierras bring snow and 10 mountain passes each over 10,000 feet; the cold numbs, the critters are all out to get your food (mountain lions, mice and bears…oh my!!) And the state of California seems never ending, passing through (and finally out of) it only after 3 months and 1700 miles of trudge, trudge, trudging along……
A few features are worth describing - the high point of the PCT is Forester Pass, which at 13,140 feet is a physical barrier; it limits entry to the high Sierras to only those who will brave the cold, the elevation, and the icy snow chutes. Raging creeks with wet, cold and slippery fords, trees across the trail from winter snow loads and avalanches, post-holing in soft snow and the quiet splendor of brook trout rising to an early hatch of May flies all slow down the northbound thru hiker. In the Cascade Mountains, huckleberry season downright halts all progress on some days!
The PCT is dry - in several areas there are 30+ miles between water sources. And in a couple of sections there are 200+ miles between beer sources. Thirst, hunger and hardship are constant companions.
For the Walking Carrot (those un-initiated to trail names should check out Our Adventures page for an explanation) our PCT hike will be the culmination of a desire held since we first met in 1994 during my first PCT hike.
A few years after that fateful summer, in 1997, together we hiked the length of the Appalachian Trail. Our hike of the PCT this year (2004) will be the first time the Carrot has hiked the entire PCT in one season. And, for me, it will be a “ten year retrospective”, not repeating but offering comparisons and contrasts to my hike of the PCT in 1994. Time to update the old memory database. We are preparing to eventually hike the Continental Divide Trail and complete, together, the third leg of long distance hiking’s “triple crown” (the PCT, the AT, and the CDT).
We will be remote but in touch. We will access our hotmail accounts about once every 2 weeks or so, and I will also be using a “pocketmail” device to provide a trip report or update, via email, about once a week. Some people will receive these updates directly and others will have it forwarded to them due to size limits on the number of outgoing email addresses from this account. Everyone is invited to respond directly to us.
As with previous trips we will be filing “trip reports” on this site, roughly once a week beginning the first of May. Background information, maps, photos, copies of our trip reports and a somewhat irregular “daily journal” will all eventually be available by following links on this website.
By September we will all be 5 months older and wiser; the Carrot and I will be a few miles more fulfilled (and somewhat skinnier) and we will have already forgotten the travails of the early days on the trip, anxiously looking forward to our next adventure. Come along with us as we hike the Pacific Crest Trail!