SOBO Planning and Prep
PHYSICAL Preparation is #1
The most important type of preparation is physical - getting your body in as good of hiking shape as possible before hitting the trail.
So walk a lot. Run a lot. And put on your backpack and go on numerous practice hikes. If you can hike three 20 mile days in a row with a backpack, you're probably ready.
No amount of resupply or gear planning can make up for being physically unprepared.
COnditions Preparation is #2
Northern Washington is as tough as it gets on the PCT. Watch the weather conditions, have a safety beacon, be prepared for difficult snow crossings, and be ready for Glacier Peak Wildnerness to be really, really tough.
You should spend far less time on gear choices and food preparation, and far more time on physical fitness and trail conditions.
Everything Else is #3
Hikers love talking about gear, which app to use, their resupply strategy. Honestly none of those factors will contribute to your success as much as training and conditions prep. But that information is still important, so below I've summarized some of my favorite preparation resources.
Section 1 contains an overview of the PCT Southbound and ultralight backpacking gear, section 2 has blogs and stories from former SOBOs, and section 3 has resources for your resupply strategy.
1. Overview - General Trail and GEAR Info
PCTA - Southbound Thru-Hike Overview
Thorough overview of the trail southbound. A great starting point for research.
The Hiking Life
The "Gear" and "How To" sections offer a well-organized, compact, yet comprehensive guide to long-distance hiking. The author happens to be an ultralighter, but he is refreshingly un-preachy about it. His advice is general, and he knows that his audience is likely to consist of people who are easing into lightweight backpacking themselves. Even experienced hikers will learn something from this guy.
Halfway Anywhere - PCT Survey from Class of 2016
This site is packed with great PCT info, and this survey has very interesting data from past hikers
Less frequently consulted resources:
- PCT-L email listserv
A lot of hikers choose not to plan their food ahead of time, and instead buy food as they go on the trail. Most use a mixture of buying and shipping. Unless sending all of you food is very important to you for health or diet reasons, or is a strategy to reduce cost, you don't need to plan all of your food for 2,650 miles before you leave on the trail. Instead focus on training and gaining wilderness skills.
2. SOBO STORIES
PROFILES OF SOBO Thru Hikers
Learn about the trail directly from someone who just completed a thru-hike. Even contact them directly if you have more questions! All of this can be found through our 2016 SOBO Profiles page.
Doormouse and Dirt Stew - '14 - Just Two Hikers
The most helpful website for most '15 and '16 hikers - fantastic detail and compelling stories.
Eastwood '16 - Must Like Walking
Great description of snow challenges in Northern Washington.
Old School '16 - Rest and Rise
Stunning photos, great stories about a married couple attempting a thru-hike together.
Macro and Huckleberry - '16 - Reason Number 7
Great FAQ section, detailed gear list, and a thorough logistics section.
Neemor - '16 - Neemor's World (VIDEO BLOG)
Twenty videos, each 5 or so minutes long about his '16 sobo thru-hike.
Conor Puckett - '15 - See Puck Hike
Very interesting look at being a SOBO in 2015. High temps, a quick snow melt, and a drought.
Alex Mason - '16 - The Mountains are Calling
Daily blogs about a 2016 SOBO thru-hike.
Solar Body - '16 - Solar Body's PCT Thru-Hike (VIDEO BLOG)
Stunning shots and gives a great sense of daily life on the PCT.
Toastface and Stringbean - '16 - Pacific Crest Dance Club
Compelling story as Toastface was injured early on and Stringbean decided to continue.
Gaucha - '16 - Tara Michelle, Dream Big and Adventure
Great story of a SOBO thru-hike, plus a great story of sunset at Forester Pass and sunrise on top of Mt. Whitney.
Eric Bow's Blog '10
A particularly thorough and informative SOBO trail journal, especially for WA. Unlike most trail journals, the author has a very detailed entry for every single day.
Craig's PCT Planner
This SOBO-friendly website provides an easy and remarkably accurate way to estimate when you will arrive at various points along the trail.
SOBO Resupply Excel Spreadsheet (all resupply points), and Elevation Changes of Each PCT Section - Trenchfoot '16 SOBOs.
As the Crow Flies - Town Guide
Every town on the PCT with a detailed description. Very helpful before and during the hike.
Their "complete list of resupply points" is excellent and up-to-date. It includes all the little details that matter, like whether a place accepts only UPS or FedEx, and precisely how your package should be addressed and labeled.
Zero Day Resupply
Allows you to send ahead a resupply without the hassle of packing your own boxes!