Pacific Crest Trail
FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions
We answer most questions in detail on our
pct page, but I will try to summarize the
common ones. Not in order of importance.
When do I start?
Weather governs. Typically you can enter the Sierras
(Kennedy Meadows) about June 15th, and you should reach Canada by
Sept 15. This schedule will require an ice axe, instep crampons and
hiking poles for the Sierras. You can start in mid April and meet
this schedule. It is possible to start in March, but each section
has high areas where you may encounter snow and ice. Use of ice axe
and crampons may be necessary if it is a heavy snow year. Ask on
pct-l to get current year info.
What about water?
From Southern California to the Sierras, the
undisputed source of information is
ASABAT's water report -
this is continually updated as the season progresses, so keep
checking, even when on trail. After the Sierras rely on the
guidebook, Yogi's handbook, trail angels, other hikers and pct-l. Be
prepared to carry up to 2 gallons in some spots. More info on our
Shoes or boots?
The vast majority of pct hikers use running shoes.
See our gear page for details.
Again, a majority of pct hikers use poles, for power
on uphill and stability on the downhill. The agreement on this is
not as great as on running shoes.
Get your thru hiker permit from the PCTA if you are
going 500 miles or more. Pay them $15 and get a Whitney stamp if you
plan to exit east over Whitney Portal. The normal permit is all you
need to just summit Whitney from the west side and return to the
pct. You also need a California fire permit which you can get by
email Details on our pct page.
Resupply points are every 5 to 7 days. Yogi's
handbook has fairly current info on what's available for purchase.
Some people use a bounce box to forward town only items from
resupply to resupply. More info on our pct page.
Entering Canada requirements
The PCTA association maintains an FAQ list. It is
not maintained very well, but they keep current on some things. One
is Canada's entry requirements, so check the
Horses on the PCT
This is another thing that the PCTA covers well, so
check the PCTA
FAQs. A personal observation is that there are many places where
the trail has a very narrow tread, and you need to walk your horse
across. There are also spots were downed trees make the trail
impassible to stock.
PCT Controversial Questions
Some questions always raise a storm on the pct-l,
with strong opinions on both sides, and no agreement. The following
questions are in that category:
Dogs are barred from the National Park sections of
the pct. Most thru-hikers agree that it is a very exceptional dog
that can cope with the hardships of the pct. Some do make it and
seem in good spirits. Others are struggling to stay with their
masters, even though they may die in the process.
They are required in most of the Sierras. Yes, you
may get away without getting caught, either by a bear or a ranger,
but chances are that a bear is going to get your food, and
eventually get shot due to people not using canisters. More info on
canisters on our gear page. Wild ideas.net
has the largest and lightest/meal hard sided container. They have
special rental rates for PCT, JMT, etc. Call them for details:
https://id215.chi.us.securedata.net/~wild-ideas/rent.html . We
carry a couple of soft Ursacks for all areas of the PCT except the
JMT part. The Ursack keeps mice, etc out, as well as less educated
Guns were forbidden in the National Parks, but a Bush
administration rule changed this in January 2009, allowing
concealed weapons to be carried with a permit issued by the state
containing the national park, and if that state allows concealed
weapons in the state parks. California does not, but Oregon and
Washington do.. I'm a lot
more concerned about being around someone with a gun in his pack
than I am about any wild animal or dangerous human I may encounter,
and I think my opinion is shared by most pct hikers.
Poison Oak - what it looks like:
I've been thinking about putting a page together on
this for several years. Fortunately, I've procrastinated so long
that Diane of
www.SantaBarbaraHikes.com has done it for me:
Browse around our website, and if you still have
the pct-l . Ask away. Its purpose is to serve the PCT hiker
community, even though it also serves as a social network for those
who have hiked the trail.