While thru-hik­ing the 2,600-mile Pacif­ic Crest Trail comes with plen­ty of high­lights, there are a few select loca­tions along the way that tend to real­ly stick out long after the hike is complete.

It’s the com­bi­na­tion of epic scenery and trail mile­stones that cre­ate the ulti­mate highlights—whether it’s the tallest peak in the low­er 48 or the entry­way into a whole new state, there’s dai­ly high­lights to be found on the PCT, but only a hand­ful of places that leave foot­prints in your mind forever.

South­ern Terminus—Campo, California
While it’s not much more than GPS coor­di­nates on the map, the South­ern Ter­mi­nus of the PCT holds spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance. Locat­ed in the small com­mu­ni­ty of Cam­po, Cal­i­for­nia, and erect­ed only feet away from the U.S.-Mexico bor­der, for the major­i­ty of thru-hik­ers attempt­ing the trail this is where their jour­ney begins. For the rest of thru-hik­ers, those head­ing south along the route, this mark­er denotes the end to an epic adventure.

Hik­er Heaven—Agua Dulce, California 
After trekking near­ly 500 miles through South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and con­quer­ing obsta­cles includ­ing intense heat, sparse water, and the ver­ti­cal gain of San Jac­in­to and Mt. Baden-Pow­ell, north­bound hik­ers arrive to a lit­tle place sim­ply called Hik­er Heav­en. Locat­ed in the qui­et com­mu­ni­ty of Agua Dulce, Hik­er Heav­en is offered and main­tained vol­un­tar­i­ly by trail angels Dona and Jeff Saufley and pro­vides tired hik­ers with a break from the trail, a place to rest up, and is an embod­i­ment of the PCT community.

Kennedy Mead­ows Gen­er­al Store 
A cou­ple hun­dred miles after Hik­er Heav­en in Agua Dulce, and after near­ly 700 miles of arid South­ern Cal­i­for­nia trav­el, north­bound hik­ers arrive at the small com­mu­ni­ty of Kennedy Mead­ows, known best as the gate­way into the Sier­ra Moun­tains. Trad­ing in the desert land­scape for an alpine envi­ron­ment with reli­able water sources is a great feel­ing for most hik­ers head­ing north, and the excite­ment res­onates through­out the Kennedy Mead­ows community—especially at the Kennedy Mead­ows Gen­er­al Store, which serves as a com­mon stopover for just about every hik­er on the PCT.

Mt. Whit­ney Summit
Serv­ing as the tallest peak in the con­tigu­ous Unit­ed States, Mt. Whit­ney stands impres­sive­ly not far off the tra­di­tion­al PCT route. Tech­ni­cal­ly a side-trip off the trail, near­ly all PCT hik­ers attempt the sum­mit of Mt. Whit­ney from the west­ern approach, and it’s no small feat to do so. For north­bound thru-hik­ers, Mt. Whit­ney is just the begin­ning to the 200-plus mile John Muir Trail ahead of them, mak­ing for a 14,505-foot intro that can’t be forgotten.

Sono­ra Pass
As beau­ti­ful as it’s sig­nif­i­cant in the jour­ney, Sono­ra Pass winds up and down through gor­geous Sier­ra scenery, all the while ush­er­ing hik­ers either out of or into the heart of the Sier­ra Moun­tains. For thru-hik­ers head­ing north, Sono­ra Pass comes right after fin­ish­ing the John Muir Trail and marks a qua­si-pas­sage­way into a new sec­tion of the trail (North­ern Cal­i­for­nia). For those head­ing south, Sono­ra Pass sets a high bar for expec­ta­tions con­tin­u­ing into Yosemite and through­out the rest of the Sier­ra Nevada.

Crater Lake Nation­al Park
Locat­ed in the noto­ri­ous­ly dry region of south­ern Ore­gon, Crater Lake Nation­al Park is a rein­vig­o­rat­ing sight to behold. High above the ancient caldera, thru-hik­ers can opt for the alter­na­tive Rim Trail for the best views. With hun­dreds of miles of the PCT stretch­ing north and south from the shores of Crater Lake, no mat­ter the direc­tion you’re head­ing, the sparkling blue waters are a much-deserved sight to see.

Cas­cade Locks / Bridge of the Gods
To cross between Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon, hik­ers must cross the Colum­bia Riv­er along the Bridge of the Gods. Not only is the sur­round­ing Colum­bia Riv­er Gorge that sep­a­rates these two Pacif­ic North­west States filled with enough beau­ty to cre­ate a post­card busi­ness, but the feel­ing of cross­ing into a new state is excite­ment enough to make this charm­ing town and mas­sive struc­ture a total high­light on the trail.

Goat Rocks Wilderness
With full 360-degree views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams and Pacif­ic North­west alpine scenery, the Goat Rocks Wilder­ness with­in the Gif­ford-Pin­chot Nation­al For­est in south­west­ern Wash­ing­ton pro­vides some of the best views found on the PCT. With the right weath­er, an option­al route can take hik­ers up and above “Old Snowy,” lend­ing toward unpar­al­leled views of what makes both the Cas­cade Moun­tains and the entire Pacif­ic North­west region so special.

Ste­hekin
Less than 100 miles south of the Cana­di­an bor­der, the small com­mu­ni­ty of Ste­hekin lies deep within—and lends access to—North Cas­cades Nation­al Park, and is only acces­si­ble by boat, sea­plane or foot trav­el. Hik­ers along the PCT, espe­cial­ly those going north­bound, are no strangers to hik­ing by now, and can find much enjoy­ment from the serene set­tings of Ste­hekin. While it’s the last stop for many north­bound­ers, it’s just the begin­ning for those head­ing south, and either way, no one can leave with­out sam­pling the fares pro­vid­ed by the Ste­hekin Bakery.

North­ern Terminus—Washington/Canadian Border
Locat­ed in a small patch of woods des­ig­nat­ing the U.S. and Cana­di­an bor­der, for the major­i­ty of thru-hik­ers attempt­ing the trail this is where their jour­ney ends. But for those head­ing south, this marks the begin­ning of an epic adven­ture, and com­pletes two ends of an inti­mate­ly con­nect­ed circle.

Thru-hik­ing the Pacif­ic Crest Trail is top on many hik­ers buck­et list, but tak­ing four to six months to hike the 2650 mile trail isn’t fea­si­ble for all. For­tu­nate­ly there are many gor­geous stretch­es between the desert of Cal­i­for­nia and the woods of Wash­ing­ton that can be hiked in a week or week­end. While many sec­tions lie on well trod­den trails, here are a few where you’ll find beau­ty and rel­a­tive solitude.

Cal­i­for­nia

Cas­tle Crags, California

South­ern Bor­der Mon­u­ment to Lake Morena—20 miles
The begin­ning of the PCT might not seem like it’s hid­den, but this iso­lat­ed stretch takes you through rolling hills of Coul­ter pine and oak before descend­ing into Hauser Canyon. The For­est Ser­vice rec­om­mends doing this as an overnight trip, so bring a tent and stay at the camp here. Plan to hike out ear­ly to avoid a shade­less ascent dur­ing the hot desert afternoon.

Cas­tle Crags State Park to Etna Mountain—100 miles
The begin­ning of the Big Bend sec­tion of the PCT stretch­es through the Kla­math moun­tains hit­ting the Cas­tle Crags, Trin­i­ty, and Russ­ian wilder­ness­es. This rugged route winds through an area heav­i­ly defined by glacia­tion. The lakes, gran­ite spires, and diverse forests are as beau­ti­ful as the trail is stren­u­ous, which is very.

Ore­gon

Sev­en Lakes Basin, Oregon

Sev­en Lakes Basin to Four­mile Lake—30–45 miles 
The Sky Lakes Wilder­ness is an epic sec­tion to explore, but its wind­ing trails will have you stray­ing off the PCT. A high­ly rec­om­mend­ed route leads you south­west from the Sev­en­mile trail­head through fir, pine, and hem­lock forests. Manda­to­ry stops include the Sev­en Lakes and Sky Lakes Basins, as well as the apt­ly named Heav­en­ly Twin Lakes. Only three miles from the fin­ish, beau­ti­ful cliff-lined Blue Lake is worth an after­noon stopover or an even an extra night.

Dia­mond Peak via Immi­grant Pass—15 miles
This pic­turesque and rel­a­tive­ly easy sec­tion can be packed into an overnighter or stretched out to sev­er­al days as side trips abound. Hike 4.7 miles from Immi­grant Pass to the well-marked, but unof­fi­cial, trail up Dia­mond Peak. The non-tech­ni­cal scram­ble adds three steep, but well worth the effort, miles. After the descent set­tle in at great stream­side camps in the mead­ow below Dia­mond Peak. Tree-lined Hid­den Lake makes for a relax­ing lunch/swim spot on the hike out.

Wash­ing­ton

Mt. Adams, Washington

Mount Adams—23 miles
Lit­tle broth­er to Mount Rainier, Mount Adams is gor­geous and much less vis­it­ed. Its rugged, vol­canic scenery trav­els along one of the only “lev­el” sec­tions of the PCT in the Ever­green State. From the fir and hem­lock forests below grad­u­al­ly climb through lava fields and moun­tain mead­ows to above tree-line views of Adams and its rival stratovolcanoes.

Rainy Pass to the Cana­di­an Border—70 miles
We fin­ish at the fin­ish line, but bring your pass­port because this length of the PCT takes you to Man­ning Park in Cana­da. You’ll also need your climb­ing legs as the trail gains over 13,000 feet up and over count­less pass­es. Head here in mid-August for wild­flow­ers in the mead­ows or Sep­tem­ber when the larch­es paint the hill­sides a glow­ing gold­en hue.

Hik­ing the 2,650-mile Pacif­ic Crest Trail has its chal­lenges, but there’s got to be a rea­son why more and more peo­ple are ven­tur­ing out each year to tack­le this mul­ti-month thru-hike.  To find a lit­tle clar­i­ty about the things you learn along the way, a 2016 PCT thru-hik­er by the name of Hawk­eye was hap­py to share 10 life lessons learned while hik­ing the Pacif­ic Crest Trail.

bradlane1It’s the Steps Between the Des­ti­na­tions that Define Your Journey
The begin­ning and end of the Pacif­ic Crest Trail make for some of the best pro­file pics, but the real pic­ture of what it’s like to hike the Pacif­ic Crest Trail comes from the many days between the two des­ti­na­tions. Truth be told, the begin­ning and end of the trail aren’t the most mem­o­rable moments of the entire trip. It’s the sud­den snow­storms, the unex­pect­ed trail mag­ic, and the wide-vari­ety of peo­ple who cross your path that have a big­ger impact than the two mon­u­ments that capped the whole experience.


bradlane2Plan Ahead and Pre­pare; Then Go With It When the Plan Falls Apart
Not until the last three miles of the 2,650-mile Pacif­ic Crest Trail did any well-thought out plans go exact­ly as I had writ­ten out on paper. An extra day in town, few­er miles thanks to inclement weath­er, ambi­tious plans meet­ing the real­i­ty of what they are, you name it—any num­ber of things can slow you down on trail. While the ini­tial direc­tion of north lays a good foun­da­tion and prop­er pack­ing is essen­tial for non-star­va­tion, you can only plan and con­trol so much on the Pacif­ic Crest Trail. The rest you just have to make it up as you go along.


bradlane3You Nev­er Know What’s Real­ly Ahead of You Until You Hike There
Inside the tent at night, it’s easy to keep your­self up wor­ry­ing about what obsta­cles lie ahead on the trail; until the com­plete exhaus­tion of hik­ing for months on end kicks in and you fall asleep the moment your head hits the stuff-sack pil­low. Stress­ing about how much the climb will hurt, whether the weath­er is going to stay on your side of the moun­tain, or the unknown dread at the pit of your stom­ach won­der­ing if you can stand up to the over­all chal­lenge. The truth was, only a small num­ber of wor­ries ever came true, and most of the real strug­gle seemed to come with­out fore­warn­ing. While hik­ing the Pacif­ic Crest Trail, the only way to see what obsta­cles you’re fac­ing is by con­fronting them with every step forward.


bradlane4A Lit­tle Com­pa­ny Can Take You A Long Way 
Some of the most reward­ing times hik­ing the Pacif­ic Crest Trail were the solo-moments. Feel­ing your­self shrink as the sun drops on a hid­den camp­site, fol­lowed by the reas­sur­ance of life wak­ing up to the new day’s light—it’s a nec­es­sary expe­ri­ence for any hik­er. But that time alone comes with a sharp edge on its back, enhanc­ing every strug­gle and every phys­i­cal and men­tal dan­ger you come across. Hav­ing a lit­tle com­pa­ny on trail didn’t just pro­vide a safe­ty net, it was often encour­age­ment to go that extra-mile, and you wouldn’t believe the sort of sat­is­fac­tion there is when you are sit­ting, soak­ing in the rain and you are able to turn to some­one and say, “well, this sucks.”


bradlane5Earn­ing the Views Makes Every­thing Look That Much Better 
There’s no lack of moun­tains to climb on the Pacif­ic Crest Trail, almost frus­trat­ing­ly so at times, and there is always a point in each climb where a stray thought could find itself cen­ter­ing around “why am I doing this?” More times than not how­ev­er, as you climb and climb and climb some more, wait­ing for you at the top is a stun­ning view of the world. While those views aren’t too shab­by in the nor­mal day’s light, once you have your blood flow­ing and feel weak in the knees, those views can take you off your feet and remind you exact­ly why you chose this life.


bradlane6This Too Shall Pass
Nin­ja mos­qui­tos mak­ing their way into your tent, soft­ball-sized sprains that slow down your day—a lot of the things that are easy to com­plain about on trail often do pass with time. Ago­niz­ing­ly slow maybe, but every blis­ter, abra­sion, and feel­ing of self-doubt does heal up and become stronger skin. Remem­ber­ing this, and remem­ber­ing that the suc­cess­ful feel­ings of climb­ing to the top of a moun­tain pass, hit­ting 10 miles by 10:00 a.m. and the reas­sur­ance that you are exact­ly where you are sup­posed to be in your jour­ney, those feel­ings too, they shall pass.


bradlane7Men­tal Strug­gles Are Hard to Get Over, For Every­thing Else There is Aleve 
Of course you can’t will your­self out of a bro­ken leg, or pos­i­tive­ly imag­ine the snake ven­om cours­ing its way out of your veins, but more times than not, it’s the men­tal strug­gles won or lost that define your expe­ri­ence on the Pacif­ic Crest Trail. There are immense lows, val­leys that you must climb out of to accom­plish your goals, and the high­est of highs as your raise you arms on top of the world. Being mind­ful of what is real­ly ail­ing you, as well keep­ing a healthy dose of Aleve or Ibupro­fen at hand, is the key for mak­ing the long haul on the PCT.


bradlane8Life Moves Faster with Less Things to Carry 
It’s unbe­liev­able the val­ue you put on things once you start hav­ing to car­ry them all on your back. Sud­den­ly things that were once con­sid­ered essen­tial get pitched into the lux­u­ry cat­e­go­ry, and it’s phys­i­cal­ly notice­able once you cut down all that weight. Liv­ing sim­ply, car­ry­ing only the necessities—even the intan­gi­ble items you leave at home while trav­el­ing the trail, such as con­stant social media plug-ins, 24-hour news chan­nels and the all-know­ing Google to answer all of your questions—makes you quite a bit faster in your pursuits.


bradlane9Insur­mount­able Goals Can Be Reached One Step at a Time 
While 2,650 miles might seem like a lot of dis­tance to cov­er over rugged ter­rain, which it is, the only way it can be been done is one step at a time. While that should go with­out say­ing, it’s easy (and stress­ful) to pic­ture the trail in its entire­ty. Instead, tak­ing the large goal at hand and break­ing it up to sin­gle cycles of the sun it a way to keep sane in an oth­er­wise over­whelm­ing hike across the country.


bradlane10There Are 24 Hours in the Day, Use Them
Donat­ing many 14+ hour days to cov­er the large dis­tances need­ed to reach the Cana­di­an bor­der, sud­den­ly the urgency to use each hour effec­tive­ly becomes inher­ent. What becomes hard to bal­ance how­ev­er isn’t the hours used to hike, it’s the oth­er parts of the day ded­i­cat­ed to rest and recov­ery. Using all 24 hours of the day doesn’t mean hik­ing all night, but instead rais­ing aware­ness of how to use the hours in the day to opti­mize per­for­mance. Rest­ing when relax­ing was need­ed, tak­ing care of the small chores that kept the jour­ney afloat, and hit­ting the trail at full speed with a recharged enthusiasm.


bradlane11Bonus: It’s All in How You Choose to Look at It
While it’s hard to say with any true author­i­ty, the entire trail is real­ly a les­son in per­spec­tive. Whether it’s an appre­ci­a­tion for the run­ning water back home, the real­iza­tion that these forests and parks have been grow­ing for cen­turies before you were ever born, or it’s just the under­stand­ing that rain is wet but it doesn’t have to ruin your day, hik­ing the PCT is a prac­tice in mind­ful­ness and that change in per­spec­tive will define the beau­ty along the way.

pho­tos by Brad Lane

Pete Brook is an inde­pen­dent writer who cov­ered his Pacif­ic Crest Trail thru-hike for Out­side Mag­a­zine last sum­mer. Along the way, Pete doc­u­ment­ed his expe­ri­ence through a hand­ful of arti­cles, and more close­ly through his social media. Pete’s hon­est take on the hike ran counter to the over­ly roman­tic ver­sions of out­door pur­suits that have emerged in recent years. I sat down with him to talk about all things PCT, social media in the out­doors, and much more.

File-Mar-15-9-10-39-PM-1024x768

What was the inspi­ra­tion for the hike?
I did it to take a break; to do the oppo­site of sit­ting in front of a screen for 10 hours a day. That urge is not nov­el and the idea does­n’t deserve any applause. Being able to make time for the hike, and fin­ish­ing it, is some­thing to feel good about. But I’m under no illu­sions, I’m great­ly priv­i­leged both in terms of time and resources.  I’m a free­lancer, finan­cial­ly sta­ble, and with­out any fam­i­ly or respon­si­bil­i­ties to main­tain. Not a lot of peo­ple have that liberty.

File-Mar-15-8-25-52-PM-e1489772780164-768x1024

From the very begin­ning, you approached this hike with a cer­tain sort of appre­hen­sion, call­ing your doc­u­men­ta­tion an “hon­est view of the PCT.” Can you speak to that?
I won­dered before­hand what I would do as far as doc­u­ment­ing the hike. In the begin­ning I thought I would just go with­out a phone, and be invis­i­ble. After some delib­er­a­tion I real­ized I want­ed to be able to text my friends, stay in touch with fam­i­ly, and to ulti­mate­ly doc­u­ment the hike. From there I just want­ed to show peo­ple a dif­fer­ent way of see­ing the PCT. For exam­ple, when I pho­tographed the water sources, I want­ed to show how hik­ers can go 20–25 miles between water sources, espe­cial­ly in South­ern California.

A big thing I did was the sketch­es. Lit­tle land­scapes that I would see. A lot of peo­ple have since asked me about the sketch­es and what I want to do with them, more than the pic­tures I took. I think there was some per­son­al invest­ment that peo­ple appre­ci­at­ed. The sketch­es were dif­fer­ent inter­pre­ta­tions of the land­scape, rather than pho­tos every­one has already seen.

The Amer­i­can West has been pho­tographed to death. Pho­tog­ra­phy played a key part in estab­lish­ing our nation-state nar­ra­tive about the west, wilder­ness, and Man­i­fest Des­tiny. I write about pho­tog­ra­phy for a liv­ing, and I thought it was kind of an easy ges­ture to repeat the same doc­u­men­ta­tion. So I came up with the the series on water-sources, on ordi­nary land­scapes from where I took my morn­ing dump, and the sketch­es. That isn’t to say that dif­fer­ent ways of doc­u­ment­ing the hike, or the out­doors, are bad. I don’t judge the way any­one has cap­tured his or her hike,  I just had my own way of doing it. 

You wrote about want­i­ng to get away from your com­put­er screen. What did that real­i­ty feel like?
It’s a big priv­i­lege, and I kind of wish to dis­pel the roman­ti­cism that goes with the PCT. Of course it’s amaz­ing, of course you’re total­ly immers­ing your­self in nature, but it’s not like any­one can just get up and go. It’s not an easy undertaking.

“You’re very much liv­ing in your body and you’re very aware of liv­ing in reac­tion to your body. Your pri­or­i­ties are sim­ple things: mak­ing sure you have food, water, and shelter.”

In gen­er­al, to be away from the screen is to live a very dif­fer­ent type of real­i­ty. But, after a cou­ple of weeks, your body is used to get­ting up and walk­ing, and it becomes a very dif­fer­ent way to expe­ri­ence time.

File-Mar-15-10-52-19-PM-1024x768

Do you see any con­flict with the fact that you want­ed to do this hike to get away from the screens in your life, but you also heav­i­ly doc­u­ment­ed your hike?
I had these dreams before the hike that I would ditch the phone entire­ly, but I had to be real­is­tic. I decid­ed that it wasn’t some­thing that I want­ed to do. It was a delib­er­ate choice to use the Halfmile App, to have email in towns, and to keep in con­tact with peo­ple. That choice to share pho­tos and words with peo­ple was some­thing I did deliberately. 

What I real­ized about the desire to get away from being in front of the screen, was that it was real­ly about not being in front of a desk. I came to a place where I felt com­fort­able, going on my phone every once in a while to share the hike with peo­ple was some­thing I want­ed to be doing. I was invest­ed in shar­ing the journey.

File Mar 15, 9 12 22 PM

How do you think social media plays into the outdoors?
The thing about social media is that it’s pre­sent­ed as if it’s off the cuff, as if it’s effort­less, but the design and intent behind it is often larg­er and more thought out than is evi­dent. There’s a rea­son a lot of the pho­tographs of the out­doors on Insta­gram look the same. As con­sumers we have sub­con­scious­ly agreed which pho­tos do real­ly well and secure likes and com­ments. So we are going to con­tin­ue post­ing over-exposed land­scapes with sym­met­ri­cal com­po­si­tion, or pics of the bow of a boat, or a fig­ure at water’s edge, dead cen­ter. The trends are easy, but inescapable. How­ev­er, I don’t want to come over as neg­a­tive, I think of these pho­tos as way­points on a shared learn­ing curve. Just because some­thing is easy or com­mon does­n’t make it bad, it’s just easy and common.

File-Mar-15-11-19-16-PM-1024x768

You’ve writ­ten about the dam­age being done to the trail from the increased traf­fic. What do you think the future of the trail is?
I think it’s going to be okay, I’ll say that first. 

There are more peo­ple liv­ing in the world, there are more peo­ple liv­ing on the West Coast of Amer­i­ca, and ulti­mate­ly there are more peo­ple who want to take on the chal­lenge. The PCT has only been for­mal­ized since 1993, so we’re not even 25 years into it. When peo­ple think back to the days when there were only a few hun­dred peo­ple on the trail, those were the ear­ly days, those weren’t the norm. I think the mas­sive spike in PCT hik­ers we’ve seen in the past decade will plateau. Now, the ques­tion is how we man­age 3,000 peo­ple on the trail each year, and it real­ly comes down to the hik­ers to treat it respect­ful­ly. Most hik­ers who I met were very respect­ful and fol­lowed Leave No Trace principles. 

File-Mar-15-11-04-17-PM-1024x768

You seem to swear by Altra. Do you think they are the ulti­mate thru-hike shoe?
Hon­est­ly, I have to say yes and no. Of the four pairs of shoes I wore on the hike, two were Altras. They were my best pair and my worst. The first last­ed more than 900 miles, the sec­ond was less robust.  The major­i­ty of hik­ers tried Altras dur­ing the hike at some point. Some liked them and some did­n’t. A large num­ber of hik­ers did end up wear­ing Altras from begin­ning to end. But, I find that it’s almost point­less to rec­om­mend shoes because everyone’s feet are dif­fer­ent, so you have no idea what’s going to work for every­one. I will say, Altra is hon­est, they’re inge­nious with the design, and they don’t claim to work for every­one, but they do work for so many. 

Diptych

If you could tell the gen­er­al pub­lic, or peo­ple going into the PCT, what they need to know about the PCT, what would it be?
Not just for thru-hik­ing, but back­pack­ing gen­er­al­ly, no mat­ter how shit­ty the weath­er gets, how sick of the food you get, what­ev­er you’re feel­ing, you’re only feel­ing it right then and there. The good part might just be over the next pass, the next hour, or the next day. Embrace the fact that the suf­fer­ing is tem­po­rary. One more thing, nev­er ever under­es­ti­mate what your body can do. The human body is capa­ble of some pret­ty mirac­u­lous things. My body changed so much over the course of the hike and just know­ing how hard I could push myself was liberating. 

File-Mar-16-12-27-29-AM-1024x1024

What were your biggest take­aways from the hike? Were they dif­fer­ent from what you thought they’d be?
The biggest take away was that peo­ple are good, peo­ple are gen­er­ous. Every town, every com­mu­ni­ty you go through, the locals know who you are and they’re hap­py to see you. There are so many trail angels, so many peo­ple offer­ing rides, to put hik­ers up for the night. Some peo­ple even offer to pay for hik­ers’ food or sup­plies. The amount of sup­port and gen­eros­i­ty was out­stand­ing. That to me was far more amaz­ing than any neb­u­lous idea, or ide­al, of nature. There is no way hik­ers could do the PCT with­out the gen­eros­i­ty of non-hik­ers. As much as I thought the PCT would be a nature expe­ri­ence, it end­ed up being just as much a social expe­ri­ence. It was more about peo­ple for me. 


To keep up with Pete, check out his site, where he cov­ers pri­mar­i­ly pris­ons and photography. 

Cre­at­ed with the pur­pose of inspir­ing a greater sense of envi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship in the out­doors, Pack­ing it Out is an ini­tia­tive rais­ing aware­ness about lit­ter con­di­tions on America’s trails. The crew start­ed on the Appalachi­an trail, where they removed 550 pounds of trash. 

Firm believ­ers of the idea that actions speak loud­er than words, the Pack­ing it Out crew seeks to lead by exam­ple, set­ting out on trails across the US to clean up the spaces we all share togeth­er and inspire oth­ers to do the same, even if it’s just for five minutes. 

“The Pacif­ic Crest Trail is not a triv­ial under­tak­ing. Walk­ing 2650 miles at 20+ miles per day for 148 days takes a toll on your body, espe­cial­ly when your body is 64 years old. When I set out on the PCT, I knew it would be tough, but I learned quick­ly that the first thing that will take most peo­ple off the trail ear­ly is feet problems.

image3

I start­ed my hike in a pair of soft­er trail shoes think­ing the extra cush­ion would give me some pro­tec­tion from the rough and uneven trail tread. I quick­ly learned that the shape of the shoe and the lack of sta­bil­i­ty cre­at­ed more prob­lems that it solved. Bare­ly 100 miles into the hike I had ter­ri­ble blis­ters and had lost four toenails.

image2

I quick­ly noticed that most of the expe­ri­enced through hik­ers were wear­ing the same unusu­al shoe, Altras. It was my first expo­sure to Altras, and I got a pair of Lone Peak 2.0. This was some­where around mile 300, and all my foot prob­lems instant­ly went away. The Zero Drop sole allowed my body to walk with a very nat­ur­al stride and the wide toe-box gave my feet plen­ty of room to spread out com­fort­ably which they will invari­ably do on a long hike. I found the cush­ion to be an ide­al  bal­ance between flex­i­bil­i­ty and sup­port, which kept my feet com­fort­able and mov­ing all day long. Most days I walked non­stop for 13 hours at a time.  The unique dou­ble mesh design on the uppers allowed the shoes to breathe so I did­n’t have prob­lems with sweaty feet caus­ing blis­ters. In addi­tion, they dried out quick­ly after it rained, which it did plen­ty of through Ore­gon and Wash­ing­ton. In total, I went through five pairs of Altras in the 2,300 miles that I wore them.  They got me through real­ly rough ter­rain, mud and snow and served me well in all con­di­tions. I can say with­out ques­tion that I don’t think I would have com­plet­ed this hike with­out my Altras” — Dean Paschall, Sun Val­ley, ID

image4


To get your own pair of Altras, shop here at The Clymb.

Yosemite Nation­al Park is breath­tak­ing. If you’ve been, you know. If you haven’t, you should. Cap­tur­ing its beau­ty in a sin­gle snap-shot is an impos­si­bil­i­ty, but put a cam­era into the hands of thir­ty film­mak­ers to spend a day in the Val­ley, and you’ll get a glimpse of what such grandeur can mean to so many peo­ple worldwide.

Hap­py Tues­day, Clym­bers. Hope­ful­ly you’ve been able to get out there and enjoy some of this snow. But late-sea­son pow­der isn’t the only thing caus­ing a buzz in the out­doors right now. All over the coun­try, thru-hik­ers are mak­ing final prepa­ra­tions to wend their ways down the nation’s gru­el­ing tran­sect routes, such as the 2,627-mile Pacif­ic Crest Trail and the 2,178-mile Appalachi­an Trail.

As you read this, many of these would-be titans of trekking are pro­cras­ti­nat­ing from work, map­ping trail dis­tances and sort­ing out drop points in their minds. Soon, en route to vic­to­ry, they’ll pass through mul­ti­ple states and over hun­dreds of demor­al­iz­ing moun­tains. They will encounter beast aplen­ty. Of course there’s snow in the moun­tains, but it kin­da makes you want to strap on the back­pack and go for a hike, does­n’t it?

Just because you’ve com­mit­ted to ride out win­ter for all it’s worth does­n’t mean you should miss out on an oppor­tu­ni­ty to gear up for next sea­son’s adven­tures. Today’s events  cel­e­brate the would-be thru-hik­er in us all by fea­tur­ing an assort­ment of gear, tech­ni­cal appar­el, and acces­sories for light­weight trekking down any trail.

Trekking Essen­tials: Scott Williamson knows a thing or two about being light of foot on the trail. In 2011, the 39-year-old tree climber from Truc­k­ee, Cal­i­for­nia set a new speed record on the Pacif­ic Crest Trail (PCT), trekking over 2,627-miles from Cana­da to Mex­i­co in just 64 days. Whether tack­ling the PCT or a week­end camp­ing trip in the back­coun­try, today’s trekkers are push­ing bound­aries, sac­ri­fic­ing tra­di­tion­al dis­tance-trek com­forts for the light­est loads. Sleep­ing pads are get­ting small­er. Hard-boiled eggs and kiel­basas are falling vic­tim to dehy­drat­ed foods and light­weight sub­sis­tence snacks. Alu­minum trekking poles are trump­ing heavy walk­ing sticks. Look­ing to light­en your load as you gear up for a new sea­son on the trail? We’ve got you cov­ered. Today at The Clymb, we’re offer­ing a wide selec­tion of Men’s and Women’s Trekking Essen­tials, includ­ing packs, poles, camp­ing pads, microfiber tow­els, tech­ni­cal appar­el, footwear, shel­ters, ham­mocks, eye­wear, knives, and more.

Tool Log­ic: Let’s be hon­est with our­selves. Moth­er Nature is real­ly more like an old­er sib­ling. She doesn’t want to hurt us or force us into help­less sit­u­a­tions from which there is seem­ing­ly no escape—but she will do either at the slight­est provo­ca­tion. Head­ing into the great out­doors is like tres­pass­ing in said old­er sibling’s bed­room. The door is open but BEWARE. Tool Log­ic makes light­weight com­pact tools, knives, and flash­lights to sur­vive what­ev­er fall­out you incur—from hav­ing to smash out a win­dow to access locked-in keys, to need­ing super-bright LED light­ing to sig­nal a res­cue chop­per. Today on The Clymb we’re offer­ing a wide selec­tion of inno­v­a­tive Tool Log­ic mul­ti­pur­pose res­cue tools, sur­vival cards, and key rings fea­tur­ing all sur­vival neces­si­ties, from blades to mag­ne­sium fire starters. Pro­tec­tion from noo­gies not included.

Did you know? In the film 127 Hours, James Fran­co is using the actu­al cam­corder Aron Ral­ston clutched through­out his death-defy­ing ordeal in Blue John Canyon.

Also Fea­tured This Week:

Spring Snow­poca­lypse with Spy­der, Sur­face Skis, CELTEK and more