It’s hard to believe it’s finally over, but today at 11:50am, my dad reached mile 2660 of the Pacific Crest Trail (aka the PCT, the Crest Trail, or just, “The Trail”) after 144 days. He was projecting it would take him about 150 days, or 5 months to complete, at an average pace of about 17.75 miles/day. At 144 days, his average pace was just under 18.5 miles/day. Of course that includes a number of zero and “nero” days, necessary in order to resupply somewhere off-trail. When he was really moving, usually hiking from about 6am to 5pm every day, his normal daily mileage was more like 20-21 miles/day.
A few days ago, my sister flew to Vancouver and then drove to Manning Park so she could meet him at Monument 78—the official end of the PCT. That entailed an 8 mile hike to the US-Canada border, and since they were not planning on camping, they hiked the same 8 miles together, back to Manning Park. The first time I hiked 16 miles in a single day was earlier this year, with dad on the PCT, so this was no small feat for Katie. Way to go!
Dad was nervous. My plan to hike 19 miles a day together was based on his swift progress through Southern California—but what neither of us had anticipated was how difficult the Pacific Crest Trail would become in the Sierras. He told stories of constant stream crossings, some waist deep, treacherous snow fields that cut across the trail on steep mountainsides, and, since he’d entered Yosemite, innumerable switchbacks, “paved” with infernal cobblestones. I’m not exactly sure what I expected the trail to be like, but I certainly hadn’t counted on getting wet. Now I was nervous.
On May 16th, my dad sent me an email with a plan that would get him from mile 566 of the Pacific Crest Trail in Tehachapi to mile 942 in Tuolumne Meadows on June 8th—23 days later. On the surface it seemed like a “walk in the park”—an average pace of 16.3 miles/day when he had been doing 19 or 20. However he had 4 resupply stops to make on the way which would consume 2-3 days of hiking time. Subtract those 3 days, and suddenly he was looking at a strenuous 18.8 miles/day pace, which made him increasingly nervous as the mountain passes in the Sierras got higher, scarier, and snowier.
A week from today, (if everything goes according to plan) I will be embarking on the most physically strenuous activity I have ever attempted: section-hiking 150 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, from Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite to Echo Lake in Desolation Wilderness (near South Lake Tahoe). I will be tagging along with my father, who, when we meet, will have been thru-hiking the PCT for an incredible 54 days and 943 miles.
Route of the PCT from Tuolumne Meadows to Echo Lake
One of the natural wonders we visited while in Oaxaca was Hierve el Agua, a set of rock formations created by fresh water springs that resemble waterfalls. We weren’t sure in advance whether we’d get there, so we neglected to bring our bathing suits, but it was fun to explore and photograph all the same.