What is the PCT?
The Pacific Crest Scenic Trail (or PCT for short) is a long-distance hiking trail which closely follows the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges, which lie 100 to 150 miles (160 to 240 km) east of the U.S. Pacific coast. The trail’s southern terminus is on the U.S. border with Mexico, just south of Campo, California, and its northern terminus on the U.S.–Canada border on the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia. During the journey from Campo to Manning Park hikers pass through the states of California, Oregon, and Washington.
First conceived by Clinton Churchill Clarke in 1932, the Pacific Crest Trail is 2,659 mi (4,279 km) long and ranges in elevation from just above sea level at the Oregon–Washington border to 13,153 feet (4,009 m) at Forester Pass in the Sierra Nevada. The route passes through 25 national forests and 7 national parks. Its midpoint is near Chester, California (near Mt. Lassen), where the Sierra and Cascade mountain ranges meet. It was designated a National Scenic Trail in 1968, although it was not officially completed until 1993, and received official status under the National Trails System Act of 1968.
2,659 miles – Ouch, that’s got to hurt?
Yes, well it probably will, but it will also be challenging, inspiring, beautiful and a lot of other things besides. Lisa and I have talked of doing a long-distance hike for many years. Over the last few years in particular we’ve promised ourselves we’ll get fitter, we’ll work less, we’ll live more simply and so on. The trouble is, tomorrow never comes, until that moment when a health scare, a loss, a near miss or perhaps a redundancy shakes you out of the daily stupor and makes you question what you really want to get out of your life. We do after all only live once and as someone wise once said about life; ‘don’t take it too seriously, it’s not permanent’.
A moment like that, or rather a string of them, happened to us last year and we sat down and said, ‘lets just do it’. As simply as that it was decided. We shook on it and agreed we couldn’t take it back. After that it was just a matter of setting about all the changes that would need to take place in order for us to, not just undertake one hike and then return to our previous lives, but to change the way we live our lives in order that we can make the kind of challenges, adventures and journeys that we dream about, our reality.
We’d talked about the PCT many times over the years, read books by others who’d walked it, seen a couple of documentary clips about it, even followed other hikers blogs while we plodded along in the day jobs. It was the obvious trip for us to undertake to kick off our ‘new life’. Big enough to be a real challenge, yet with enough effort, achievable even for ordinary people like us.