I’ve got some exciting news…I’m hiking the Pacific Crest Trail….AGAIN! Why am I hiking the Pacific Crest Trail again? What are the details of my upcoming hike? What will I be doing differently for my hike this year? Keep reading and I’ll share all of these answers with you along with answering some of the most questions I’ve been getting about my upcoming PCT hike.
Earlier this week, I “low key” announced on my Instagram Stories that my PCT long distance permit had been approved by the PCTA.
I honestly didn’t think I’d get much of a response, but HOLY COW!!! I got flooded with DMs from all kinds of people on Instagram saying “Congratulations!” and got a ton of questions about my hike and questions from people wanting to planning a hike on the PCT.
If you’re not already following me on Instagram, you can find me on Instagram at @_TheHungryHiker.
On Instagram, you can stay in the loop on:
- All of the future announcements I make
- Participate in Q&As
- Get more behind the scenes stuff
- Check out the reels I’ve been making featuring some of my favorite backpacking food recipes and the group hikes I’ve been leading each weekend with my students of The Confident Solo Female Backpacker System.
Okay, so let’s chat about my upcoming PCT hike.
What is the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)?
For those of you who don’t know, the Pacific Crest Trail is a long-distance, national scenic trail here in the United States that:
- Spans over 2,652 miles from Mexico to Canada through three states: California, Oregon and Washington
- The PCT starts near Campo, California and ends at the US and Canadian border near Manning Park
- The PCT travels through 26 national forests, 7 national parks, 5 state parks and 4 national monuments
- 10% of the PCT is on private land
- Most hikers will head NoBo or northbound from Campo, California in March, April or May and take about 5 months to get to the Canadian border
- Fewer than 5% of hikers head SoBo or southbound
NoBo or SoBo: Which direction am I hiking the Pacific Crest Trail?
Fewer than 5% of hikers head SoBo or southbound. FIVE PERCENT!!
You guys!! I’m going to be part of that 5% this year.
That’s right, I’ll be a dirty SoBo heading southbound on the PCT this year. For safety reasons, I’m not going to share with you my start date, but I will share with you that I’ll be starting from the Washington/Oregon border and heading south.
Over the last four years, I’ve spent my summers section hiking all of Washington along the PCT.
- In 2020, I hiked Section L all by myself, from Rainy Pass to the Northern Terminus and back
- In 2021, I hiked Section K all by myself, 128 miles one way, from Stevens Pass to Rainy Pass
- In 2021, I also hiked Section J, from Snoqualmie Pass to Stevens Pass with a couple of my friends
- In 2022, I hiked 250 miles by myself from Snoqualmie Pass to Cascade Locks at the Washington/Oregon border
Now that I’ve hiked ALL of Washington twice, I’ve decided for my SoBo hike to skip having to wait for the snow to melt out up north and that I’ll be starting from the Washington/Oregon border and head south towards Mexico.
Why do I want to hike the PCT again?
A lot of people have been asking me WHY I want to thru-hike the PCT again. My thru-hike has actually been five years in the making. Let me explain.
As I was finishing up my PCT thru-hike back in 2018, I knew I wanted to come back and hike the trail again. So I decided to celebrate the five-year anniversary of my first thru-hike with another thru-hike along the PCT.
Why do I want to hike the PCT SoBo?
Originally when I hiked the PCT in 2018, I headed NoBo, with 95% of all the other thru-hikers.
NoBo is the most popular direction to head on this trail
Hiking the PCT SoBo means:
- Your thru-hike is not a traditional, social thru-hike like it is for NoBo hikers
- There’s less crowds
- There’s less competition for long-distance hiking permits
- It’s a more solitary experience out on trail since most hikers are going in the opposite direction
- SoBo hikers will start at one of the hardest parts of the trail first: the North Cascades up in Washington
- SoBo hikers are more than likely to start their hike off in snow, especially with the winter we’ve been having up here in Washington this year
- SoBo hikers start later than the NoBo hikers, which is usually the end of June or sometime in July, just depends on the snowmelt up in Washington outside of Harts Pass
- Not having to deal with heat in Southern California, but there could be water issues
- Not having to deal with all of the snow in the Sierra, but there could be thunderstorms and flash flooding
- Possibly having to navigate around trail closures due to wildfire, which seems to be the new normal for NoBo hikers now too
When I hiked the PCT back in 2018, that was my first thru-hike and long-distance backpacking trip EVER. I had never camped or slept outside by myself before. The first time I ever slept outside by myself was in the Sierra section of the PCT, which is a whole other story for another day.
Going NoBo meant I had the comfort knowing there were a ton of other PCT thru-hikers around me, both on trail and in town. For someone who was new to solo backpacking, there was a lot of comfort in that, not only for me, but also my friends and family who weren’t terribly excited about me hiking the trail solo.
Why Am I SoBo Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this Year?
- To celebrate the five-year anniversary of my first thru-hike. This hike, this trail changed EVERYTHING about my life.
- Thru-hiking the PCT is where I came up with the concept for The Hungry Hiker YouTube Channel
- Thru-hiking the PCT is where I started to entertain the idea of one day creating an online backpacking program for women. If you haven’t noticed, there’s a possibility of getting a whole lot of good ideas while hiking the PCT for long distances.
- I’ll get to experience the trail I love so much in a whole new way, from a whole new perspective
- I’m hoping I get to see some new places I wasn’t able to see along my first thru-hike
- Most importantly, this hike is FOR ME and I’m going to do this hike my way. I want to prove to myself that I can do this alone.
Let me be VERY clear about my hike: I’m not out here trying to break any records. I don’t have an agenda. I’m not even tied to a certain trip itinerary, plan or outcome
My only plan is to be flexible and go with the flow. This means hiking whatever the trail will allow me to hike without getting upset about trail closures and wildfires. It’s whatever I decide I want to do and really, whatever the trail will allow me to hike. I’m not a purist who needs to hike a continuous footpath for 2,652 miles. I’m here to hike, laugh, cry, reflect, have fun, see some beautiful backcountry, swim in alpine lakes, watch countless sunrises and sunsets, meet awesome people along the way, live outside in my tent, make it to the next water source, stay safe, indulge on any kind of food my body wants to eat and drink an endless supply of root beers along the way. I’m going to hike my own hike.
What am I doing differently this time around?
First of all, I’ll be hiking in a different direction. I’ll be heading southbound (SoBo). I’m also going to be starting at a different time, which will be much later than the NoBo PCT hikers.
I’m not overplanning my hike. I’m going with the flow from the beginning. I’m intentionally looking for a solitary experience
My gear, of course, will be different. I feel like my gear is always changing with every backpacking trip I go on. I’ll use a different pack, upgraded sleep system, different cooking stove and even the clothes I hike in will be different than my first thru-hike. I’ll make a whole video about the gear I plan on bringing with me for my hike.
I’ll also be changing up my resupply strategy. I’ll be doing a hybrid resupply strategy with some shopping for food in towns along the way and sending myself resupply boxes to the smaller towns. I’ll be putting together a video featuring my resupply strategy and the food I bring for this trip as well.
The food in my resupply boxes will be different too. I’ve been dehydrating a lot of my backpacking food over the last few years, something I didn’t do for my 2018 thru-hike. If you haven’t already, check out some of my favorite backpacking food recipes to get an idea of the types of meals I’ll be including in some of my resupply boxes out on trail.
I’m also NOT using a Bounce Box. In my opinion, a Bounce Box is a waste of time and money. You can find everything you need in towns along the PCT.
I want to make a point to get up earlier in the morning and hike later throughout the day during my thru-hike. I also want to swim in more alpine lakes.
My physical training is different this time around. I’m not just doing yoga and going on weekly hikes. I’ve been working with a personal trainer for the last two years (strength training). I have more miles under my shoes now so my body is better equipped for thru-hiking. I’m more mentally prepared for a solo trip like this. I’d even like to try hiking a 30-mile day at some point.
I also plan on keeping my house. When I left to thru-hike the PCT in 2018, I gave up the place I was living and put everything in storage. This time around, I’m leaving everything set up as is so that I have a comfortable and safe place to land after my hike.
Here are some of the most asked questions I’ve been getting about my upcoming hike.
Q: Tips on planning a hike on the PCT and/or recommendations on where to go in Washington along the PCT?
I’ve been getting a TON of questions from people wanting advice on how to plan a hike on the PCT, whether it’s a section, 3-4 day trip, weeklong trip, recommendations for where to hike in Washington along the PCT and even questions about how to plan a backpacking trip or section hike in Washington along the PCT.
For those of you curious about planning any sort of backpacking trip along the Pacific Crest Trail here in Washington, I have a great trip planning resource for you. Check out this incredible guidebook:
Hiking The Pacific Crest Trail Washington: Section Hiking From the Columbia River to Manning Park by Tami Asars
In this guidebook, Tami breaks down all of Washington along the PCT into sections. This guidebook includes suggested itineraries for each section, maps and a ton of beautiful photos. Everything you need to know about planning any sort of backpacking trip along the PCT in Washington can be found in this guidebook.
If you’re thinking of planning any sort of trip along the PCT in Washington, you will want this book!! CLICK HERE to get your copy.
Q: Why choose the PCT over other long-distance hikes?
For me, the PCT is where everything started for me. This was my first thru-hike and it changed every aspect of my life.
After my hike, I came back and worked really hard to make hiking and backpacking my life.
- I created my YouTube Channel, The Hungry Hiker
- I created an online backpacking program for women, The Confident Solo Female Backpacker System
- The PCT is where I discovered my love (and built up my confidence) for solo backpacking
- Plus, I still have some unfinished business out there. There are some things I haven’t seen yet along the PCT.
Q: What backpacking gear am I bringing?
I’m going to put together a whole post featuring all of the backpacking gear I plan on bringing with me for my hike. I’m still sorting out some gear changes and have a few shakedown overnight backpacking trips on the calendar before I officially decide on my setup.
Q: Resupply strategy?
I’ll be doing hybrid resupply strategy: I’ll send myself boxes of food I dehydrate at home to myself in more remote parts of the trail like stops in Oregon and Northern California. By the time I get closer to the Sierra, I’ll start resupplying out on trail along the way and put together boxes to send myself in the Sierra section. Southern California, I’ll resupply in town stops along the way.
Q: Am I worried about the heavy snow in the Sierra?
Nah. By the time I hit the Sierra section, it should be around September and by then, most, if not all of the snow will be gone.
Q: Are you going to film your hike and put it up on YouTube?
Yes! I won’t be doing a daily vlog like some PCT hikers do, but I will be capturing some of my trip on video and sharing it on YouTube. I haven’t decided if I will be editing videos as I go or wait until I finish my hike.
Q: Is it hard to get a permit? Permit process? Do you need a permit?
Technically you don’t need a permit to hike the PCT, but the long-distance permit does make it really easy because instead of having to apply for permits individual permitted areas along the trail, the long-distance permit covers it all. And they’re free!
The permit process is pretty straightforward. There are two times you can apply for a long-distance permit: in October/November for NoBo hikes and then in January for everything else. You’ll need to go through the PCTA’s website to set up an account and get more details on exact dates.
Getting a NoBo permit is the most challenging because 56% of thru-hikers want to start from the Southern Terminus in Camp and head north towards Canada. Permits are limited to 50 starts per day.
If you want to avoid the competition, choose a different starting point than from the Southern Terminus or consider going in the opposite direction. You’ll want to do your research. Be flexible and come up with an alternative plan if your original plan doesn’t work out. Also, people cancel there NoBo permits all the time up until their start date so check the PCTA website for more information and permit availability.
Q: What am I hoping will be the same/different this time?
I’m starting my hike with zero expectations. This is a new hike. Same trail, different direction, a whole new perspective.
There are quite a few stops I experienced in 2018 that don’t even exist anymore. There’s new trail angels, new burn zones, reroutes, new parts of the trail have reopened and some have closed. The trail changes from year to year. I can’t wait to see all of the changes.
I look forward to town food tasting REALLY good. I hope the bugs don’t eat me alive. I hope I get good weather. I look forward to meeting amazing people along the way. No matter what happens out there, I’m fully prepared to enjoy and accept whatever the trail throws my way.
Q: What section am I most looking forward to? What am I the most worried about?
Oregon!!! In 2018, I missed most of Oregon due to trail closures and fires. Next to Washington, the Sierra section of the PCT is my favorite section of the trail. I hiked the JMT/Sierra section of the PCT last summer for 30 days. I’m looking forward to doing this section again, heading in the opposite direction.
In the Sierra, it’s the thunder and lightning storms I’m the most worried about. I’m also worried about potential wildfires, trail closures, reroutes, bugs in Oregon and dwindling water sources in Southern California.
Q: How do you calm your friends and family’s nerves when you embark on big solo hikes?
Honestly, this is an ongoing process. I don’t think my friends and family ever really get 100% comfortable with me being out on trail by myself for days and months at a time. Over the years, I’ve found ways to help alleviate a lot of their stresses while I’m out on trail alone.
One piece of gear I wish I had gotten sooner is a Garmin InReach. With my Garmin, friends and family can follow along my hike. They can also send me messages when I don’t have cell or WIFI service.
Okay, so there you have it. I’m hiking the PCT this year AGAIN!
I can’t wait to get back out there and truly embrace my hiker trash self. I always say, when I’m out on trail, I am the best version of myself: happy, active and confident. Trail life is real life.
Thank you to everyone who submitted your questions about my upcoming PCT hike over on Instagram. If you have any other questions, please leave a comment down below.
PCT Trip Planning Resources:
Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA)
The PCT Needs YOU! Become A PCTA Member
PCT Permit Info
Download my FREE Backpacking Gear Packing List
PCT Trip Planning Resources on My Blog
I’ve helped women all over the country achieve their backpacking goals through my online program, The Confident Solo Female Backpacker System.
Whether you’re a beginner or well-seasoned female backpacker, this program will walk you through, step-by-step, everything you need to know in order to plan, prepare and build up your confidence to comfortably go out for your first or next backpacking trip.
If you’re serious about working towards achieving your backpacking goals this year and need help getting there, CLICK HERE to schedule a one-on-one Zoom call with me where you’ll talk to me live about your backpacking goals and I’ll share with you how I can help you turn your solo backpacking goals into a reality.
CLICK HERE to learn more about The Confident Solo Female Backpacker System.
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