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Bzirbes - Pacific Crest Trail Journal - 2012

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Brian Zirbes
City: Birmingham
State: Alabama
Begins: Apr 20, 2012
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Fri, Nov 9th, 2012
Trip Distance: 453.5

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 780
Journal Visits: 11,241
Guestbook Views: 472
Guestbook Entrys: 2

Gear list

Pacific Crest Trail Map

Advice for a prospective thru hiker

As I sit here in sunny southern Alabama, I’d like to pass along some advice for anyone who wants to hike the PCT. These are things that worked for me; they might work for you.


If you think you want to hike the PCT (or the AT, or…), you should.


Trust yourself.

Get a light pack. I liked the ULA CDT (ula packs are popular on the PCT), but Zpacks, Mountain Laurel Designs, and even Gossamer Gear all make good, light, frameless packs.

Pack fewer pieces of gear than you did on your last long hike.

Buy a kitchen or postal scale with increments of .1 oz/1 gram. They aren’t expensive.

Weigh everything you plan to carry and enter the weights in Excel. Figure out what you don’t need.

Don’t skimp on your sleeping bag. You will not regret spending an extra $ 50-100 when you are sleeping soundly through a cold night. Also, a warmer bag means you can afford to carry fewer pieces of cold weather clothing (and thinner baselayers, lighter jacket).

Don’t buy multiple pairs of shoes before your hike, unless you are positive that they work for you. It’s easy to buy shoes on the trail, especially with a smart phone.

Similarly, don’t plan out all of your food for mail drops before hiking. Plan only the essential ones (places where there are no grocery stores) to account for your changing tastes. If you are lucky, a loved one at home can fill some of your boxes based on what you tell them from the trail.

Bring a smart phone. If you’re concerned about battery life, buy a small rechargeable battery pack.

Leave your ipod at home. If you want to have music (you do) put it on your phone.

Get a decent camera.


Take more photos than you think you should. Remember to photograph people.

A day or two before going into town, make a list of the foods you crave. I always seemed to forget them when shopping in grocery stores, only to curse my past self once I got back to the trail.

If they will let you, photograph people who help you out.

Know that the trail ahead is never as hard as another hiker has told you.

While the freewheeling approach to hiking has always served me well, food is a serious issue. Plan your food carefully before heading out for 4 or more days. I didn’t bring enough food for the Kennedy Meadows to VVR stretch, and the price was being painfully hungry through some of the best parts of the PCT. If I were doing it again, I would get out at

Kearsarge Pass to resupply.


A beer drinker will never regret packing out a can of beer when leaving a town.

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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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