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Gg-man - Pacific Crest Trail Journal - 2011

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City: Atlanta
State: Georgia
Begins: May 21, 2011
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Wed, Sep 7th, 2011
Trip Distance: 2,683.9

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 3,128
Journal Visits: 247,254
Guestbook Views: 9,774
Guestbook Entrys: 133

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Pacific Crest Trail Map

The Trip by the Numbers

It’s easy the do the math for how many miles you need to average in order to complete the hike on a certain timing. For a 100 day hike you would need to average 26.5 miles per day. But this number is somewhat irrelevant because you will need to target much higher mileage per day to cover zeros and neros. In my case I targeted 30 mpd and actually hiked 30.9mpd on all of my full hiking days including the Sierra.

I had originally intended on taking about ten zeros but I cut this number down after my first zero in Big Bear because I found that a half day was all that was need to recharge my batteries. I planned and took four zeros in Tahoe when my wife flew out for a visit. This break was also helpful in healing my body especially my feet after the high Sierra. There was also zeros taken in Mammoth and Sonora Pass just to get a break from the snow. In a normal snow year I probably would not have need either of these or even the time in Tahoe.

After getting back on the trail after the Tahoe zeros I felt schedule pressure and didn’t take a zero for the rest of the trip. But I did take a full day off in Ashland, half of one day, half of another, just to improve my mental health. In Washington we took neros at almost every resupply because we were running ahead of schedule and didn’t want to finish too early.

If I were to fastpack the PCT again I would avoid zeros all together. I would target doing 25 miles on town days, neros and get out of town early the following morning. If I needed more time off then I would use the Ashland model where I did about 20 miles going in and 20 going out and taking the two half days. This is equivalent to doing a 40 mile day followed by a zero except much easier on the body.

Here is a breakout by section of the mileage and number of zeros and neros :

Total Miles 706
Total Days 25
Total Average 28.2

Full Day Mileage 589.3
Full Hiking Days 18
Average Full Day Mileage 32.7

Nero Mileage 116.7
Number of Neros 6
Average Nero Mileage 19.45

Number of Zeros 1

Sierra (KM to Sierra City)
Total Miles 499.7
Total Days 28
Total Average 17.8

Full Day Mileage 466.3
Full Hiking Days 19
Average Full Day Mileage 24.5

Nero Mileage 33.4
Number of Neros 3
Average Nero Mileage 11.1

Number of Zeros 6

Total Miles 500.1
Total Days 15
Total Average 33.3

Number of Neros 0
Number of Zeros 0

Total Miles 449
Total Days 14
Total Average 32.1

Full Day Mileage 407.8
Full Hiking Days 12
Average Full Day Mileage 34.0

Nero Mileage 41.2
Number of Neros 2
Average Nero Mileage 20.6

Number of Zeros 0

Total Miles 510.1
Total Days 17
Total Average 30.0

Full Day Mileage 447.5
Full Hiking Days 14
Average Full Day Mileage 32.0

Nero Mileage 62.6
Number of Neros 3
Average Nero Mileage 20.9

Number of Zeros 0

Trip Total
Total Miles 2664.9
Total Days 99
Total Average 26.9

Full Day Mileage 2411
Full Days 78
Average Full Day Mileage 30.9

Number of Neros 14
Number of Zeros 7

Couple of interesting points:
1) My full day mileage was pretty consistent on all sections other than the Sierra. My averages were between 32 and 34 mpd.
2) I took about a 25% hit in mileage in the Sierra, down to about 25mpd. But there was a huge variation in the daily mileage due to some pretty tough days and mileage constraints due to snow-free camp locations.
3) Oregon didn’t see the huge mileage increase normally seen by lower mileage hikers. In fact I had higher mileage in NoCal once I was out of the snowiest areas. Washington was the big surprise. We were able to do big miles in all sections other than around Glacier Peak.
4) The effect of my pre-hike training can be seen in the SoCal mileage. I averaged over 32 miles per day and this pace allowed me to bank a couple of days that were used in the Sierra.

For full days here is a breakout of mileage:

Miles Days
15-20 4
20-25 9
25-30 11
30-35 35
35-40 14
40+ 5
Total 78

Note that most of the lower mileage days were in the Sierra. You can see that 30+ mile days are needed to achieve a 26.5 mile average for a 100 day hike.

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Journal Photo

Malto's PCT Adventure

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more:


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