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If you’re reading this page today, it means that you’re more or less interested in the Pacific Crest Trail (and probably rather more than less). Before we start, I wanna tell you my own story with this EXTRA-ordinary trail…
To be honest, that story is not very original. It’s one many people could tell you, although very few will admit to it: I saw the movie Wild in the early months of 2015 when it was released in theatres, and it made me wanna hike that remote, mysterious trail I knew nothing about. Favorably impressed by the (few) scenes of that movie actually shot on the Pacific Crest Trail, but mostly deeply touched by Cheryl Strayed’s tale of redemption, I decided that at some point in my life I would do what she’d done. Then I probably consigned the idea on a bucket list in one of my (too) many Moleskine notepads, and I promptly forgot about it.
By mid-2017 I found myself lucky enough to have time on my hands, the freedom to use it as I wished, enough savings to do so and no real strings attached. By sheer coincidence (or maybe it wasn’t), that is when I came across the DVD of Wild. Once again it resonated in me. Being in the situation I was in, I felt that Life was offering me a unique chance to realize this crazy dream, and I decided to seize it.
I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from early May to late September of 2018. I’ve always loved hiking, especially in the mountain, but before embarking on that crazy PCT adventure, I was not exactly what you’d call a seasoned thru-hiker: with only day-hikes under my belt, mostly in alpine environments, I had no experience whatsoever with sustaining myself in the great outdoors for days on end, camping was certainly not in my habits (I didn’t even own a tent, mind you), I had never cooked on a stove, I’d always had a hot shower and a hot meal after a day’s hike, as well as clean, dry socks for the next day, and above all I had never walked all day, every day of the week, every week of the month, several months in a row…
In other words, I was a total newbie.
As you can imagine, it was an extraordinary experience in more ways than one. I learned a lot over those few months. About me, about why I like hiking so much, about what works well and what works not so well for me in terms of pace, gear, weather and company, about how far I could actually go out of my comfort zone…
And of course as I was hiking, I had a chance to compare what I was actually experiencing with the projections I had made and built up during my preparation in France. Interestingly enough, I often caught myself wishing I’d prepared way less, so the adventure would have been more spontaneous, but also I often though that there were a lot of small tricks I wish I’d known before. I compiled all those things mentally, then I wrote them down, and then I thought it would probably be nice to share the fruits of my experience with all those who, just like me a year before, wanted to tackle a thru-hike such as the PCT without really knowing where to start.
An overwhelming part of the information available about the PCT originates from north-American sources, and I found that some of the questions specific to non-American aspiring thru-hikers are not always addressed. Hence my idea to create a website as comprehensive as possible that would (hopefully) offer a decent user experience while answering the question: “how can I best prepare for the PCT, especially if I’m not based in the US?”
Instructions for use
I’ve tried to design this website as a logical path, starting with the most general information and going through the details of planning and preparation chronologically, finishing with day-to-day life once on the trail. You can read it linearly, that’s the purpose of the action buttons I’ve put at the bottom of each page: they’ll help you navigate forwards or backwards, exactly the way you would turn the pages of a book. If you do so, starting here and reading all the way to the end of the very last page, you’ll know (almost) everything one needs to know to prepare adequately for this thru-hike.
Of course, you can also jump directly to the topic of your choice by using the navigation menu in the green header.
As for the black top-bar, it contains general information not specific to the Pacific Crest Trail, as is sometimes found on a website’s footer: the legal notice, my press links, who I am and how you can get in touch with me, my social media links and the language switcher, alongside with the Blog.
About the Blog: most of this website is made of static pages. It’s information that I put out there and it will not evolve drastically over time. The Blog, on the contrary, is a dynamic section where I will publish posts about the PCT but not only: it can be topics related to hiking, living in the great outdoors, or mere reflections about life. I’ll feed it every once in a while, as the inspiration goes, or when you guys ask me questions that I feel should be answered publicly.
Finally, please note that I’m actively working on making this website responsive, so you can read it with the same level of comfort from a tablet or a smartphone as from your desktop computer. In parallel, I’m translating all of the pages to English. Both of these processes are time-consuming and there’s only 24 hours in a day, so please be patient and stay with me.
What you’re about to read on this website reflects my experience, in a given context which is Class of 2018 on the Pacific Crest Trail. I am not a doctor, I am not trained for search & rescue, I am not a professional mountaineer, and I have no authority whatsoever to say what is right or wrong to do in outdoor activities. Advice and informations that I share in those pages are only indicative and nothing you will read here or elsewhere should exonerate you from making your own, extensive research and prepare in the manner that is adequate to your specific case and physical condition. Once you are on the trail you should always adopt a prudent approach to all situations, and nothing you have read here or elsewhere should keep you from exercizing sound and educated judgement before making any decision for yourself, knowing that the consequences will be your entire responsibility. I’m not trying to make this sound bigger than it is or to scare anyone off, but one should be aware that depending on snow falls during winter and depending on the weather found during hiking season, hiking the PCT can be a hazardous endeavour and that one will embark this adventure at their own peril.
- Sponsoring and commercial affiliations
I am NOT affiliated to any organization whatsoever, nor am I sponsored by any brand or any commercial store or retail chain. I do quote a lot of brands, products and stores along the pages of this website, with the only purpose of giving readers a truthful view of what my experience has been, as well as saving them time on search engines, browsing for said products. Whenever I indicate a price, it is the one I found online at the time I was designing this website. All conversions between Euro and US Dollar have been made at 1 EUR = 1.13 USD, which was the exchange rate at the time I hiked the PCT.
- Direction of the hike
The whole website has been written for NOBO (Northbound) hikers, that is people who hike from the south (Mexican border) to the north (Canadian border). That’s the direction chosen by 90% of the thru-hikers. Walking SOBO (Southbound) implies a different timing and preparation, it’s a lonesome and somewhat more athletic endeavour. If you’re planning on a SOBO thru-hike, you’re likely to be a seasoned thru-hiker already, and I’m afraid there’s not much for you to learn on this website. On the other hand, I found it quite logical to address what most people will be interested in: a NOBO hike, which is the direction I happened to choose myself when I hiked the PCT.
- Comments & feedback
Your feedback is very important to me! Encouragements, praising and worship, eternal gratidute… I’ll take ’em all in! But also if you have constructive critics, if you spot any typo or incoherence in my syntax (especially as English is not my mother tongue), if something I wrote here seems incorrect or incomplete… please let me know!
Additionally, if there are any (PCT-related) topics you’re interested in and that are not covered in those pages, if you feel some key question has not been addressed, please let me know as well.
Any feedback is welcome: it will help me improve and make this website as accurate and useful as possible for you and for other hikers. Thanks in advance!