Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
PCT/Thru-Hiking Itinerary Tool?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Dug Shelby
(Pittsburgh) - F

Locale: Bay Area
PCT/Thru-Hiking Itinerary Tool? on 01/10/2011 05:06:59 MST Print View

I searched through the forums and couldn;t find a thread on this, please pardon me if there is one...:)

Looking to see if there is a spreadsheet planning tool for a thru-hike itinerary...Also for diet/meal planning...?

Thanks for the help!


Lisa Frugoli
(alfresco) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
"PCT/Thru-Hiking Itinerary Tool?" on 01/10/2011 06:09:18 MST Print View


The best tool that I found (and used) was the spreadsheet that Eric the Black has on his website:

I didn't find use one for meal planning - I knew the basics of what I needed and made adjustments when I got to town.

I'm local to the Bay Area, too and hiked 1300 miles of the PCT last year. PM me if you want to get together. I'd be happy to share my experiences.


Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Craig's planner on 01/10/2011 06:18:21 MST Print View

It's not a spreadsheet tool, but it lets you create an itinerary based on your projected mileages.

Of course, it's only as good as the numbers you put in. My plan was accurate enough for the first part of the trail but was way off later on when I speeded up.

Dug Shelby
(Pittsburgh) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Thank you! on 01/11/2011 03:08:45 MST Print View

Thank you Lisa, that's very kind of you! I may take you up on that offer, I do try to get out to San Francisco when I can, just not often enough. Will you be attending the BPL hike in February?

I may have to try to download that form again, it said I needed a certain program I didn't have on my computer the first time, maybe if I use my iPod Touch it'll have all the proper functions...

And Scott, I'll give that one a try too. I can see how the first half might be accurate, then it gets out of whack later. And you can't really know whether you might be too slow, or too fast, either, every hike is different...


Edited by Pittsburgh on 01/11/2011 03:09:34 MST.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: PCT/Thru-Hiking Itinerary Tool? on 01/11/2011 10:41:18 MST Print View

I threw together a "small" little spreadsheet the uses halfmiles waypoints and allows you to mark where you will plan to stop for each day. There is also a listing of all the elevation gain/lose for each mile of the trail (Haven't throw in the end of Washington yet.) These elevations are then added up to give you a cummulative lose/gain for each day. This allows you tailor the mileage based on difficulty.

The itinery is probably the most helpful. To use: I place an entry in the first column that lookes something like this. 34(3) That means it is the 34 day of the trip and the third into the current resupply. I have marked the resupply waypoints that I'm using in red for clarity.

Now you can see what I do on my long flights Between ATL and the west coast.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: PCT/Thru-Hiking Itinerary Tool on 01/11/2011 12:50:39 MST Print View

Thanks for posting those links everyone. Interesting. I used the PCT Planner a bit, but had access to the elevation profiles in Eric the Black's Map books. I subscribe to Dwight Eisenhower's philosophy, "The plan is useless; it's the planning that's important."

Unless you have to be in a certain place on a certain day (and there are times when you are attempting to reach a post office food drop before it closes for the weekend), that all of the planning probably just allows you to figure out logistics more than it does a schedule. Making miles is important, but so is enjoying the places you visit along the trail.

Like Scott, I experienced a signficant improvement in pace in the second half of the trip. I think the second 1,300 miles I was something like three weeks faster than the first 1,300. For reference sake, I didn't get to the halfway point until the morning of August 1st.

Edited by dirk9827 on 01/11/2011 13:27:16 MST.

Dug Shelby
(Pittsburgh) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Brilliant stuff Greg on 01/12/2011 13:41:52 MST Print View

I think you may have a side career, my man. That tool is really well done.

And Dirk, when did you start, and how many zeros did you take before the halfway? What was your starting pace like for the first two weeks?


Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Zeros on 01/12/2011 19:59:48 MST Print View

Dug -

I attended the ADZPCTKO (PCT KICKOFF) so started late May. I took a lot of zeros early on, much fewer the second half.

To wit, zeros in:

Julian (off trail - fellow hiker needed medical treatment)
Warner Springs (I loved this place - the resort is old and has natural hot springs. Rooms are cheap if split among several hikers)
Idylwild (good town in the mountains)
Big Bear City (took a couple of days to meet up with a friend - too big, too spread out)
Wrightwood (quirky mountain town)
Aqua Dulce (home off the Saufleys - Trail Angels supreme)
The Andersons (a mere 24 miles from they Saufleys - alsoiconic Trail Angels)
Bakersfield via Tahachapi (one of my fellow hikers lived there)
Kennedy Meadows (gateway to the Sierra) Reached here on June 17th or so.
Independence (resupply in the Sierra)
Mammoth (via Reds Meadow - family had met me on trail and hiked out to there)
Truckee (stayed with a family friend)
Chico (via Belden - met my wife there and took four days off trail)
HALFWAY POINT - 17 or so zeros. Reached here on morning of August 1st.
Old Station - at Firefly (another great Trail Angel - took zero because of massive fire that closed trail ahead and to help Firefly evacuate home, if necessary [which it wasn't, thank goodness])
Etna - A really great little town, charming
Ashland, Ore - Go check out the Shakespearian Theatre, well worth your time and money
Crater Lake, Ore - Go up to the rim and check it out.
Cascade Locks, Ore - My friends drove 250 miles roundtrip to spend the day with me, it was well appreciated.
Packwood, WA (via White Pass, WA) - Bad knee caused me issues.
Stevens Pass - Double zero - snowstorm, bad weather, went home for a couple of days with other hikers to wait out the storm. The area north of Steven Pass to the border is in my estimation one of the highlights of the PCT - good weather was a must.
Steheiken, WA - An epic trail "town" only accessible via trail, float plane or boat.
Second half - 8 zeros with two or three nearos thrown in there to hang out at a lake after a half day of hiking. Finished October 14th.

Now the qualifiers. First, I was 38 years old when I hiked the trail. I wasn't in great shape when I started, I was actually in pretty lousy hiking shape as I spent the months before the trip wrapping up work projects (my gracious employer gave me a sabbatical). Not that there were many opportunities to go hiking, the mountains where I live were full of snow in April, preventing most hiking other than snowshoeing and low-level stuff. My pace was 15-17 miles or so a day initially. I was much faster after the first six weeks on the trail - I began to log 30+ days on occassion and most in the 20-25 mile range.

Inisitally, my biggest issues were with the heat in Southern California. I was used to 45 degree weather, not 95 degree + weather. Fortunately, it cooled down considerably after that and provided a blessed respite.

Finally, once I got my hiking legs on (and by the time it was over, I went from 204 to 152 pounds), the zeros were more out of logistics (needed to wait till the post office opened) than because my body was hurting. The first 400 miles were the hardest of the trail for me. I wasn't used to the heat. The miles were tough at times, sure, but the heat was worse for me. There are a lot of great hikers out on the trail, many of whom loved the hot days. I was not one.

Other observations - do stop at the rustic resort at Mt. Lassen National Park. (the trail practically goes right through it). They treat PCT hikers far better than we deserve - they will go out of their way to feed you a ton of food (at half price), let you swim and take a shower at no cost, and treat you just wonderfully. The meals are at set times, but they are great people and will always be remembered for their generosity.

Be kind to all Trail Angels, they are wonderful people. Make a good impression in towns where you stop - and tip well. It really helps keep the good vibe going.

Don't get caught up in what everyone else is doing - hike your own hike. I regretted some of the zeros because it resulted me in finishing the trail in mid-October. I live in Washington and know what a toss up the weather can be in early October. Some years great, some years rainy. The year I hiked it, it was just cold and clear usually, but we did get snow. The thing is it gets dark early in October in Washington. The days are short so the breaks were few for us.

If I had to do it all over? I'd start in better shape, carry less stuff, when it got really hot rather than hiking through it, hike 5 a.m. till 11 a.m. or noon, take four hours off and then hike from 4 till dusk. I'd drink more water and eat better.

Have a great time! The long distance hiking experience can be sublime.


Edited by dirk9827 on 01/13/2011 12:21:20 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
blisters? on 01/13/2011 07:44:54 MST Print View

Dirk, great summary

Did you get many blisters?

I have heard this is a major problem

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: blisters on 01/13/2011 12:16:30 MST Print View

Jerry -

Thank you for your kind words. I did take the normal precautions of taping my feet in known hot spots, but it mattered little. Initially, I suffered through a rash of blister but worse still was that my feet felt like someone had taken a hammer to them. The problem was the swelling. My feet had gone from a size 9 to 11 almost overnight. I cut away my shoes as much as possible until I could get to a big town. I switched out to size 11 Vasque Blurs in Big Bear, California. It helped a lot, only because they were full of mesh and while plenty of fine dirt got into the shoes as a result, the shoes breathed well which seemed to help.

There were many people who suffered mightily. One hiker, named Skywalker (he was 6 foot 11 inches), had such bad and persistent blisters, he had to spend considerably time off the trail visiting doctors, but still came back before they were close to healed and continued to hike. I think most people just gut it out.

After a while, my feet toughened to the point where they kind of grew numb, which was a bit unsettling. But I didn't suffer another serious blister after mile 400 or so. Other people were not as lucky, and had to contend with them the entire trip.

Jerry, do you get on the PCT much where you live?


jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
PCT around where I live on 01/13/2011 13:49:55 MST Print View


Around Three Sisters, about half of from North of White Pass to South of Timothy Lake

About a week is my limit

Maybe some day I'll do something longer

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: PCT around where I live on 01/13/2011 22:30:05 MST Print View

Jerry -

That's a terrific area. The Sisters where shrouded in clouds when I walked through, it was raining hard, but when the sun did poke through it was "Wow!" I will need to get back there. Lovely area, great hiking. I really liked that stretch of Oregon. Mt. Jefferson was also quite beautiful. Great hiking and epic camping spots around that mountain, I do remember.

If you get up to Washington, there are some terrific weeklong hikes out there. The Wonderland Trail is quite nice, as are Goat Rocks, the Enchantments, the Glacier Peak Wilderness, the Pasayten Wilderness and the Olympics, of course!

I hope to see you on the trail!


Brian Miracle
(bmiracle) - M
The glacier peak detour?? on 02/05/2011 21:09:15 MST Print View

Did you sue the detour near glacier peak up in Washington where the trail was washed out or is the trail restored to a manageable passage?