When to begin? Leave no trace!

Start Date?

This is one of the most crucial aspects when planning your thru-hike. It’ll probably depend on your personal preference (I prefer cold weather) and the potential distance you will cover on a day-to-day basis. I’ve read in many places that mid to late April is the ideal time to start the PCT. At this point the desert won’t be at its hottest; nor will the Sierra or Cascades be at the peak of their snow season.

*There’s 700 miles of desert along the PCT. More than enough time to melt if you choose the wrong time to start.

Keith Foskett.jpg
Californian desert. (credit: Keith Foskett)
Miles and Miles of unchanging scenery in the desert, according to HalfwayAnywhere

For those who are planning to hike the Pacific Crest Trail one day, be aware that you will need to apply for a start date, as only a maximum number of people can start on any given day. Permits are issued by the PCT Association when you apply via their website. This will be in late Jan/early Feb of the year you’ll start. We’ve just found out that the 2017 application dates will be on the 24th of Jan and again on the 13th of February.

When will I start?

My start location is the Southern terminus, so I’ll base my decision on what a northbound thru-hiker typically would.

Campo, CA. Wait…there’s already a wall at the Mexican border?! (Credit: Keystone)

My flight’s on the 13th of April, so for the sake of saving money I can’t be waiting around for too long. With that in mind I’m going to shoot for the 16th. This will give me a couple of days to finalise my gear and head down to Campo (pictured above), where the trail begins.

The only worry for me about choosing the 16th is that my potential PCT partners might not be able to start on that day, due to circumstance. We’ll have to see.

Leave no trace!

Fairly self-explanatory. All of the long distance trails promote the ‘Leave No Trace’ mantra. This is all about protecting and preserving the trail, consequently giving hikers the best experience possible.

There are 7 key elements…

Plan Ahead and Prepare

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Dispose of Waste Properly

Leave What You Find

Minimize Campfire Impacts

Respect Wildlife

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

I would give you more information, if only I believed my writing was as effective as this – PCTA ‘Leave No Trace’.

There are courses that you can attend, but if not, you can download an online course here.

In the next week or two, I’ll post about approaching sponsors, fundraising and whether or not I’ll be hiking with others. Click here for more of my posts!

(feature image credit: HalfwayAnywhere)