- How long is the Pacific Crest Trail? Where does it go?
- How long did it take?
- Did you do it alone?
- When did you start? Did you go northbound or southbound?
- Did you carry a tent/stove/bear spray, etc.?
- What did you eat and how did you get food?
- Did you filter your water?
- Why is your trail name Scrub? Are you a nurse? Do you really like TLC or something?
- Did you see any bears? Cougars? Rattlesnakes?
- How many miles per day did you do?
- What maps did you use?
- Is the PCT harder than the AT?
- How did you handle the desert?
- Wasn't there some book about the PCT on Oprah?
How long is the PCT? Where does it go?
How long did it take?
Did you do it alone?
Because there are fluctuations in thru-hiker traffic, sometimes I felt quite alone for a few days at a time, and I even had one day in Southern California where I never saw another human being, but for the most part there was always someone within a few miles of me who could've helped out in the case of an emergency. The thought of hiking or camping alone didn't and doesn't bother me. Wild animals are extremely timid and even if all they want is one's food, they don't want to have to fight for possession of it and risk injury. My food was always in arm's reach or propped up under my feet every night that I slept in the woods.
When did you start? Did you go northbound or southbound?
Did you carry a tent, stove, bear spray, etc.?
What did you eat and how did you obtain it?
The what: Thru-hikers, generally speaking, eat a lot of junk. The main criteria are: it needs to be calorically dense, have little prep time, and the only step should be "Add water." For most people, this means a lot of Pop-Tarts, Snickers, Ramen and instant pasta and rice meals. I did not carry a stove. This is a decision that maybe 20% of PCT hikers make at some point and probably only 10% stick with, but I found it works for me because I don't ever have spend time on food preparation, I can eat sitting/lying in my tent/sleeping bag at the end of the day, and I don't have to worry about finding fuel in town, or starting wildfires using my fuel in the high, dry mountains of the West (which happens sometimes with homemade alcohol stoves). The basics of my stoveless diet were:
Breakfast: either Bob's Red Mill Muesli with a quick soak in cold water, or Pop Tarts (I vastly preferred the latter after awhile because of its caloric density). I always ate breakfast while walking.
Day snacks (80-90% of my diet): Cheese, jerky, summer sausage, dates, raisins, Snyder's flavored pretzel pieces, chocolate bars, Oreos, mixed nuts, gummy bears, Tang or Gatorade powdered drink mix, chocolate- or yogurt-covered nuts or raisins
Dinner: either more day snacks, or sometimes Idahoan instant potato dinners reconstituted with cold water, and often fortified with meat, cheese and/or olive oil
Did you filter your water?
I started out carrying Aqua Mira. I used it on sketchy-looking natural sources three times in the first 500 miles, then never bothered with it again. In southern Oregon, I developed a stomach ailment which turned out, after some medical tests, to be giardiasis. Note that a) it took me 1800 miles of drinking straight from streams and springs to get sick, and b) my symptoms, personally, were so mild that I wasn't even sure I was sick half the time. I will probably continue not to treat my water hiking in the U.S. in the future.
Why is your trail name Scrub? Are you a nurse? Do you really like TLC or something?
Did you see any bears? Cougars? Rattlesnakes?
The only scary animal encounter I had was when a scorpion stung me as my wake-up call one morning in the desert. I didn't know what would happen to me (neurotoxins? vomiting? paralysis?), but it turns out all that most scorpions can do is deliver something akin to a bee sting, and I heroically survived. I also saw an unidentifiable, big, silent pair of eyes tracking me as I night-hiked in Northern California once; other hikers saw mountain lions in the same area around the same time. The one bear I saw up close was so puny I wanted to laugh at it. None of the rattlesnakes were interested in being anywhere near me.
I saw other cool animals, like a ring-tailed cat, pine martens on two occasions, elk, owls, and mountain goats. People who hiked more at dawn/dusk hours tended to have much more impressive lists of wildlife sightings.
How many miles per day did you do?
Sometimes people express disbelief at those numbers--one time a grown man yelled, "JESUS CHRIST!" at me when I told him—but consider that I hike 3mph. In the middle of the summer, there are at least 16 hours of daylight. Start walking at 7 a.m., stop at 8 p.m. (and those are by no means the earliest/latest I or anyone else could go) and throw in three hours of breaks in the middle and I will have walked 30 miles. Once I had my routine down, breaking camp took 20-25 minutes every morning and setting up at the end of the day took 10 without the tent, 20 with it, and I could do all that practically blindfolded. Walking just starts to become the Thing That You Are Doing 80% of your waking hours, without even thinking about it too much.
What maps did you use?
Is the PCT harder than the AT?
For the record, I found my PCT experience easier than the AT. But that statement should mean nothing to anyone else, past present or future.