Planning a thru-hike is hard. And fun. And complicated. And exciting. Everyone seems to go about it a little differently. I learned about the PCT in 2012 and started reading trail journals and blogs like eating candy. I didn’t know it then, but this was the beginning of my planning. So, by the time I realized that this trail was going to haunt my dreams until I hiked it, I had already learned a lot. Still, there is always more to learn, plan, think about, obsess over. Below are some of my favorite planning and inspirational resources.
I’m not going to post links to all of the permit pages and map info, etc. If you have decided to hike the PCT and you want to know where to start, start here:
- Pmags.com’s “A Quick and Dirty Guide to the Pacific Crest Trail – This is an amazing resource for which I have been so thankful. It is basically an outline of everything you need to do and think about and learn to hike the PCT, with links.
- PlanYourHike.com – The name really says it all. So much info here.
- PCTA.org – Learn about the trail and the organization of people who keep it going. Consider donating. Every little bit helps.
- Walking with Wired – This was the first blog I found when I started researching the PCT and it has been a constant source of inspiration, as well as, information. I highly recommend this blog, especially to women interested in thru-hiking.
- Lady On a Rock – Another strong woman hiker, and a wealth of information!
- Carrot Quinn – Do you see a theme? Another really strong woman hiker, and a beautiful writer. I have a crush.
- Liz ‘Snorkel’ Thomas – Yet another badass woman hiker. She has over 15,000 miles under her belt and in 2011 broke the unsupported speed record on the AT.
- Alejandra ‘Rocket Llama’ Wilson – I truly did not realize until this very moment how obsessed I am with strong female thru hikers. Anyway, Rocket Llama is another great one, so check out her trail journals. Also, check out her most awesome comic strip, “Rock On, Rocket Llama!“
- Wandering the Wild – I found these guys through a Youtube video, which I’ll link below. It’s interesting seeing through the eyes of a thru-hiking couple. And their photos are breathtaking.
- Halfway Anywhere – I love this guy’s irreverence. Tons of information here and a good reminder that if you decide to hike a long trail, you are probably going to die.
- Pmags.com – Paul Magnanti is one of the hosts of one of the best trail podcasts out there — The Trail Show. He also has a kick-ass blog with a whole bunch of great info.
- AndrewSkurka.com – The king of modern backpacking.
- Andy’s Big Adventure – Warning: this one can be heart-wrenching. But also so inspirational and uplifting.
- Trail Journals – You can find journals for all of the major trails here and a wealth of information. I feel like the journals here aren’t usually very thorough and can be sporadic, but sometimes you find a good one, like Rocket Llama’s.
- Postholer – Journals and tons of information.
PCT 2016 Blogs
- KarenKWang.com – I hiked with Wang for about the first month of my hike. Check out her blog and her beautiful photography here.
- SeanWindell.wordpress.com – I hiked with Sean/Golden Boy from right before Idyllwild to Wrightwood.
- Lisa and Rusty Strip – Hahaha! Maybe you had to be there. This is the blog of Lisa and Rusty. I met them on day 1 and hiked with them from around Big Bear until Wrightwood.
- HikerSmith.wordpress.com – This is Blazer’s blog. I hiked with Blazer from just after Wrightwood until Tehachapi.
- Salsa and Turbo Snail – These guys win the cutest couple award. I hiked with these two on the last day into Walker Pass.
- Step into Nature – I met Sebastian/Early Bird at Deep Creek Hot Springs and then Leapfrogged with him from about Tehachapi to Bishop. Super nice and positive guy.
What did we all do before Youtube? Really. How did anyone know how to do anything? If you have a question about anything, just try to find a video about it on Youtube. How to tie knots? Which water filtration system to carry? What are other people carrying in their packs? Foam vs. inflatable sleeping pad? How to fit a backpack? Just look it up. I don’t have a lot of specific recommendations here, because I haven’t really kept track of all of the videos I’ve watched, but here is a short list of some of my faves:
- Following Red Beard – Great gear reviews, and he video-blogged his entire AT and PCT journeys. I’ve linked here to his website.
- A Day in the Life of a Thruhiker – I like Joe Brewer’s other stuff, too, so check it out. This video is inspirational and informative.
- Clever Hiker – I’ve linked here to their website. Lots of good info about lots of aspects of backpacking.
- Campsites from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail – This is the video from Wandering the Wild I talked about above. This is pure, inspirational eye candy. I watch this at least once a week.
- Stalking cat preparedness techniques – learn stalking cat behaviors so you can protect yourself.
- Yogi’s CT Handbook – This has kind of become the bible of thru-hiking the PCT. Yogi has done all of the leg-work for you here. The first half of the book is all about how to plan your hike, with tips and tricks and lots of opinions from several experienced thru-hikers, male and female. The second half of the book is the real nitty-gritty. It’s a perforated town guide, with all of the info you will need for each resupply point laid out to correspond with Halfmile’s mapset (see below). There are lots of opinions in this book that I don’t necessarily agree with, but hey, to each his own, YMMV, HYOH, etc. Yes, you can find all of this information elsewhere and for free, but you’d have to compile it yourself and I honestly couldn’t point you in all the right directions. Especially if, like me, you’ve never hiked a long trail, just get this book and be grateful that so many amazing and organized hikers have gone before you. I might change my tune after my hike. I’ll let you know.
And the fluff…
- Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed– See what all the hubbub is about. This is a book about a woman’s personal journey that happened to happen on the PCT. Great story about A WOMAN’S PERSONAL JOURNEY. There is a lot of negativity about this book in the hiking community. There is the feeling that it inspires people to go out unprepared into the wilderness, but I doubt that is the case. I think, if anything, people are more aware after reading this book about the dangers of being unprepared. I think the negativity has more to do with people feeling the crunch as more and more people hit the trail, which is understandable. Don’t we all want to live in our own private Idaho? Anyway, it’s worth the read.
- I Promise Not to Suffer: A Fool for Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail by Gail Storey – The story of a couple in their 40s/50s (?) hiking the trail. It’s probably not going to change your life, but it’s witty and meaningful enough to be worth a read. Hell, who am I to say, maybe you will find it life-changing.
- A Blistered Kind of Love: One Couple’s Trial By Trail by Angela and Duffy Ballard – A good depiction of life as a couple on the trail. Worth the read.
I’ll be honest, these are the only three books I’ve read, because they are the only ones my library had. At some point I decided to stop buying things that were not necessary for the trail, which included books. Just do an Amazon.com search and you’ll find many more. Let me know if you find one you really like.
Here’s one more:
- Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart by Carrot Quinn – (I can’t get this damn thing to link, so just follow the above link to her blog.) I haven’t read this one yet because I know it’s going to be amazing and I know I’m going to need a bit of amazing post-trail. I’m saving it.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. Not even close. Just a good starting place.
- Only the Essential: Pacific Crest Trail Documentary – A short documentary about some young guys on the PCT. Worth the watch.
- Mile… Mile & a Half – This is a documentary about a group hiking the John Muir Trail (JMT), which partially coincides with the PCT. I really loved this one. It was on Netflix last time I checked.
- As It Happens: Pacific Crest Trail – About two friends hiking the PCT. Beautifully shot and good music.
- Do More With Less: A Conversation about the Pacific Crest Trail – I love this one. I especially love that it does feel like a conversation. You really get to know the thru-hiker community and see the trail through their eyes.
- Tell It On the Mountain: Tales from the Pacific Crest Trail – I have never seen this movie because I’m kind of a cheapskate and I haven’t wanted to shell out for it. But I will one of these days, I’m sure. I include it here because I have heard such stellar reviews. Some say that this is the best movie to show your family when you have decided to hike and you’re trying to get them excited for you instead of just scared and confused.
- Also, Vimeo – Especially, search for the PCT Class of 20– videos.
- The Trail Show – “Less gear, more beer!” A group of friends talking about beer and trails and beer. It’s irreverent, funny, and sometimes informative. Be forewarned: listening to this podcast will make you want to hike ALL THE TRAILS.
- Trailside Radio – Ratatouille did an amazing job of podcasting his PCT journey in 2015.
- Sounds of the Trail – Again, maybe because it is strong on women hikers, but I love this podcast. 2015 was their fist year and they had people on the PCT and AT, and it was really cool to hear both perspectives back-to-back.
- The Dirtbag Diaries – Not really a hiking podcast. More of an outdoor adventure sport podcast, but inspirational. One of my new favorites.
Again, definitely not a comprehensive list, but some of my very favorites. Feel free to suggest your favorites. I could always use a new podcast to binge.