Canada to Mexico
June 26 – November 9, 2019
1 | Canada to Stehekin – No rain, no pain, no bakery
2 | Stehekin to Stevens Pass (part 1) – All the small things
3 | Stehekin to Stevens Pass (part 2) – Send fog pics
4 | Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie Pass – A postcard from the Space Needle
5 | Snoqualmie Pass to White Pass – The sun’s in my heart
6 | White Pass to Trout Lake – Goats on the rocks with a twist
7 | Trout Lake to Oregon, baby! – By and by
11 | Ashland to Seiad Valley – Commencing victory lap
12 | Seiad Valley to Dunsmuir – According to Guthook
13 | Dunsmuir to Chester – Kingdom of the animals
14 | Chester to Sierra City – A really long approach to the Sierra
15 | Sierra City to South Lake Tahoe – Squad goals
16 | South Lake Tahoe to Sonora Pass – Hazed by the Sierra
17 | Sonora Pass to Tuolomne Meadows – Beauty and pain
18 | The Sierra High Route (Tuolumne Meadows to Mammoth Lakes)
19 | Mammoth Lakes to Bishop – The one where she thinks about quitting
20 | Bishop to Lone Pine – Last one to the top
21 | Lone Pine to Tehachapi – New ecosystem, who dis
22 | Tehachapi to Agua Dulce – Curiouser and curiouser
23 | Agua Dulce to Big Bear – Santa Ana comes to town
24 | Big Bear to Idyllwild(ish) – One more moondance
25 | Idyllwild(ish) to terminus – No hurt, no dirt, no Mexico
Why SOBO (southbound)?
I’ve always planned to sobo the PCT, initially to enjoy some measure of solitude rather than join a massive crowd heading north. But the more research I did, the more it seemed like a good idea — especially in 2019, with a historic snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains that will mostly melt out by the time I arrive in the fall. Other sobo advantages include a shorter mosquito season, less (not no) chance of wildfires in Washington, full hiker boxes, and a leisurely finish.
How long will it take?
Um, we’ll see. Between 4 and 5 months, I hope. Gotta hit the Sierra before the first winter storm.
What gear do you use? / What do you eat?
I’ve been backpacking with largely the same setup for the past few years; I love my staples: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400 backpack, Six Moon Designs Skyscape Trekker single-wall tent, Western Mountaineering fifteen degree bag, and Sea to Summit Ultralight sleeping pad. I carry a paper journal and a town romper. My base weight is greater than that of a melon and less than that of Elphaba, my roommate’s Maine Coon.
On the CDT, strength and nutrition were two of my biggest challenges. I’ve always had a suspiciously high metabolism. No matter how many townburgers or Oreos, I couldn’t eat enough to keep myself from withering away. I got faster, but not stronger. I was tired All. The. Time.
And I made it to Canada moaning and shaking, but it wasn’t a good look. This time I know I have to do something different, diet-wise. We’ll see how that goes.
Are you alone?!
This is the question I get 5x more than any other while hiking solo. I’ve polled some male friends: they rarely hear it, and never followed by admonitions about the danger posed by other human beings.
It took me a minute to figure out why it bothered me SO MUCH that people are SO SHOCKED, and then I realized — they’re implying, consciously or not, that I should have been too scared. That I should have stayed home. That there are some things women just aren’t meant to do.
On the CDT in Colorado, a day hiker asked me the question. I said “yep” and braced myself, ready to hear how careful I needed to be.
But she said, “My daughter is ten and she wants to hike the Colorado Trail. She’ll be so excited to hear about you.”
… I’m not crying.
[Anecdotally, the PCT is far more gender-balanced than my last trail — close to half of hikers are said to be women, compared to the ~25% I observed on the CDT. No info on how this is impacted by southbounding.]
Do you carry a gun?
Aren’t you afraid of ____?
Probably. And yet, off I go!