Section hiking the PCT

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Brien
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Section hiking the PCT

Post by Brien » Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:11 am

I wanted to see if anyone had any good resources for breaking up the PCT into 2-3 week sections. I've looked online and I'm struggling to find a good comprehensive guide.

I'll be turning 50 this year and I would like to tackle the PCT while I'm still able to. Unfortunately, being a husband, father and business owner I don't have the luxury to tackle it all at once. Plus I don't think physically I could do it. It would also be nice to hike each section in the ideal weather conditions for that part of the trail.

What I would like to do it break it up into 10 sections and do a section a year until completion. I've seen maps with all the sections broken up but they really don't tell you this would be a good block to do in two weeks and so forth. Plus, I assume some sections you can do more miles per day then others. That's really what I need to know.

Obviously, transportation and resupply will be a factor in deciding on how to break up the sections.

Hopefully I can get some good suggestions and advice as I explore this idea.

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Re: Section hiking the PCT

Post by bobby49 » Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:16 am

You will probably get better suggestions if you know roughly how heavy your pack will be and how many miles per day you can cover.

I assume that you have the detailed PCT maps. There are only so many places where you can do a resupply. Now, some of that can be expedited if you have support. For example, if you have satellite communications and if you have a person who is willing to bring a food bag to you at some trail junction, you can cover more miles.

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Re: Section hiking the PCT

Post by The Other Tom » Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:20 am

One thing to consider is the ease of exit when doing a section. The "normal" exit points are Tuolumne Meadows, Agnew Meadow/Red's Meadow, Vermillion Valley resort, Muir trail ranch, Bishop pass, Kearsarge pass, and of course Whitney. Ten sections may be a bit much considering these exit points. Unless there are some other exit points I'm not aware of, you'd have to do some serious off trail hiking to do ten sections. I'm sure others will respond and correct me if I've missed something.

Edit: Sorry, I was talking about the JMT section only
Last edited by The Other Tom on Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Brien
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Re: Section hiking the PCT

Post by Brien » Wed Apr 11, 2018 1:33 pm

I would try and keep my pack under 40 lbs. which based on previous backpacking trips is doable.

I think the exit points as Tom pointed out is my biggest concern. There does seem to be more from central and southern CA. But I'm still learning and have yet to really focus north of Hwy. 80.

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maverick
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Re: Section hiking the PCT

Post by maverick » Wed Apr 11, 2018 1:57 pm

Lots of resources here: https://www.pcta.org/
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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Re: Section hiking the PCT

Post by CAMERONM » Wed Apr 11, 2018 5:19 pm

Tons of advice available online. "section hiking pct".
Several books here:
https://www.mountaineers.org/books/book ... ion+hiking

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Re: Section hiking the PCT

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:21 pm

Do you mean the entire PCT from Mexico to Canada? Or just California. Or what?

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Re: Section hiking the PCT

Post by cloudlesssky » Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:23 am

Check out HalfMile's PCT Maps at https://www.pctmap.net/maps/. These maps are broken into 2-3 weeks sections (depending on hiking speed, 0 days, etc) and they have an incredible amount of useful information including resupply locations, water locations, campsites, etc. They are free (donations accepted) so you can take a look without commitment.

Regarding "best" time of year, I haven't seen anything I could point you to, but as others have already noted there is an enormous amount of information on the web regarding the PCT so I'd guess someone has addressed it.

Water is going to be an issue in the desert sections (from Campo to Kennedy Meadows) and as a result there is excellent water info available for the typical spring start date window at https://pctwater.com/. Other times of the year are not as well reported.

If I were planning to section hike the entire PCT I'd probably tackle the desert section in the springtime to take advantage of the increased info and support that is available. Once I completed the trail up to Kennedy Meadows (the southern one, not the one near Sonora Pass), I'd switch to tackling sections in August or early Sept because I like hiking that time of year. I don't have any experience north of Tahoe so I'm sure this basic plan would require some adjustment.

Halfmile has the PCT broken into 29 sections. If you do one each year that's a lot to accomplish before your personal expiration date. You might want to consider how you might accomplish more than one per year. PCT hikers (that complete the trail in a year) move pretty fast, 20 miles a day is common. Most I've run into go very light, I'd guess in the 25lb pack range. And by the time they've gotten a few hundred miles under their belt they are very fit. Just something to consider as you plan.

Good luck!

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Re: Section hiking the PCT

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Apr 12, 2018 7:31 am

I will assume you mean the entire PCT. Given your age, things may happen in the next 10 years that may preclude being able to backpack the entire PCT. Section hiking is already "non-purist" so I personally would ignore the continuous/contiguous requirement and simply "cherry pick" the best sections first. The thru-hiking "feel" really cannot be fully realized anyway by section hiking over several years. Free of constraints, if you cannot complete it you will have seen the best of the PCT. Honestly, there are long boring sections, their only worth being to say you actually completed the PCT. Section hiking has its advantages- you can select the optimum time for each section, thereby eliminating a lot of the difficulties that thru-hikers face. You have the abiliby to postpone sections when wildfires impact the area. You can turn a section around and do it north-to-south, if it works better. And you can avoid the crowded surge of PCT hikers and enjoy much more solitude (a real plus if you are not into the social aspcet of the PCT). You could join the crowds on a section or two if you just want to see what that is like. The down side, is that you never will get to that "super-athletic" condtion that a thru hiker does. So you will not likley tick off 30-mile days.

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