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Martin Clark
(Marty_Mcfly) - F

Locale: Southeast US
PCT Start Date Logic Check on 02/02/2013 09:31:17 MST Print View

Anyone thats got a solid opinion on this I'd love some advice. I've got some obligations that will take me at least until may. I am planning on a may 12th PCT start date, but wanted to make sure that I'm not starting too late. I've thru hiked half the AT, and am comfortable with hiking big miles but wanted to make sure of a few things:

1) won't be starting too late for a dangerous heat while in the desert
2) I won't be too far behind the pack in the sierra and will be hiking without company
3) Won't be hiking on really hard compact snow pack where an ice axe will be needed


thanks in advance. If anyone has any additional concerns that should be raised let me know!

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
May 12th PCT start date on 02/02/2013 10:38:02 MST Print View

I can't speak to the heat that you personally will encounter, but in any case May 12th doesn't sound all that late to me. ADZPCTKO is late April; I started in late April my year (right after the KO) and was dead in the middle of the herd.

If you're a particularly slow hiker, then you might have less interaction with folks, but you'll still see people. I live in WA state and the tail end of the herd came through pretty late --- I did an early October backpacking trip between Snoqualmie and Steven's passes and ran into a surprising number of thru's still at it.

Your specific points:

1) won't be starting too late for a dangerous heat while in the desert

I doubt it, but every year is different. Worse comes to worse, do some (or a lot) of night hiking, take a mid-day siesta. You do have Yogi's guide, don't you? If not, buy it pronto and read it. Then process what you read and then read it all again.

2) I won't be too far behind the pack in the sierra and will be hiking without company
Depending on hiking speed I think you'll find company. I got off trail for a week at the OR/WA border, and hiked all of a day or two before connecting up with a fellow who I hiked with to Stehekin (for example). I would lose connection with people on the trail and then sometimes run into them again. The trail is like a river and thru's are the flotsam and jetsam floating around in different eddies.

Particularly this year, it's suspected that more folks will be out there due to the latest popular book on the theme of "I hiked just part of a major trail and wrote a lot of hype about how grossly unprepared I was and what happened as a result of my stupidity" (the Oprah-blessed book 'Wild'). This certainly happened on the AT after Bryson's book made it big; TBD how much effect this might have out west, but likely some.

3) Won't be hiking on really hard compact snow pack where an ice axe will be needed
Check the snowpack data (postholer.com has this), see how it's shaping up vs. a typical year. In any normal year you will encounter snow. Very much depending on snowpack as well as on how fast you hike the first 700 - 800 miles you might or might not want an ice axe. It's wildly unlikely that you won't run into SOME snow. And creek crossing issues as well.

Overall a May 12th start date doesn't sound bad to me, so long as your pack isn't too heavy and you do some modest prep. Your AT experience should surely help you on those things.

Frank Dumville
(fdumville)

Locale: SoCal
May Start on 02/02/2013 22:06:07 MST Print View

You probably won't be the only one starting in May. I started from the kickoff in 2006 on the last day in April which is only two weeks earlier.

1) won't be starting too late for a dangerous heat while in the desert

You will encounter dangerous heat. It won't be every day, but be ready for it. You would have to start months earlier to avoid it completely. As Brian mentioned adjust your hiking day so you're hiking early in the morning, late in the day or even into the night. Try to be at a water source for 2-4 hour break during the heat of the day.

2) I won't be too far behind the pack in the sierra and will be hiking without company

You probably won't be the only late starter. Lots of early starters will get to Kennedy Meadows and wait for the snow to melt. It all depends on the snow pack and your pace.

3) Won't be hiking on really hard compact snow pack where an ice axe will be needed

A late start may mean that the snow won't be an issue on San Jacinto. The state of the Sierra snow will depend upon the year's snowpack and how long it will take you to get there.


Starting late you are more likely to encounter empty water caches and limited supplies in the smaller stores. Update your water report from www.pctwater.com as often as you can.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: PCT Start Date Logic Check on 02/02/2013 22:13:50 MST Print View

Last year Jace Mullen did the PCT solo starting on May 19th and finished on Sep 21. He did it solo. BTW, he was 17 when he started. Jace joined us last Feb for a trip with a few So Calif BPLers, and some of use followed his journal.

If you are interested Google his name to find his postholer journal.

Good luck.