PCT Southbound

Go your own way

Filtering by Category: International Hikers

Wrong Turn

Backpacking Experience
Backpacked in a few countries all over the world i.e. Nepal, New Zealand and Australia. 

2015 Alp-crossing (from Munich to Venice). Did the trip to make sure that he was able to hike a couple of weeks in a row without having any physical issues like knee problems. Kept fit by jogging regularly.

Started north to the border at Harts Pass July 8th

Date Reached So. Kennedy Meadows
October 10th.

Hike Result
Best time of his life. Reached US/Mexican border


Right before Wrong Turn came to the US to hike the PCT he finished his Master´s in Education Science in Germany. As he backpacked and traveled a lot over the past years, hiking the PCT seemed to be the perfect thing to do after college. His reasons for hiking the PCT were quite simple. Not seeking a deeper meaning of life or out of religious motivation, it was just the fact that he loves being outdoors and being out in the wilderness, where life comes down to the essential points. Also he fell in love with the PCT from the moment he heard about the trail. After going back to Germany he plans on doing a PhD in Education Science. 


"Starting your hike alone in northern Washington can be very hard even if you are an experienced hiker. As less people start from the northern terminus expect to be on your own for a while in a very remote area. This can be mentally challenging especially when it’s cold and you get rained on days in row.  I remember the first days being horrible. The weather was really bad and I didn’t see many people until I reached Stehekin. Being wet all day long, alone and thousands of miles away from home I just felt shitty. Anyway, this was just a couple of days as the weather turned and I started seeing more people I could talk to. I guess this was the acid test. So, if you are out there and don’t feel good, give yourself some time and don’t hesitate to cry. That helps and no one will see you except for some bears maybe. "


"Planning to hike the PCT is slightly more complicated and more expensive for Europeans than for Americans as there are a lot of things to organize like applying for a visa (you have to show up at the US embassy) or getting the right health insurance. Also it’s complicated to have friends and family shipping you equipment from Europe you just need for special sections as the shipping costs are way higher. Anyway, as far as I experienced these are all minor problems. Most likely you will meet nice people along the way offering to store equipment and send it back to you if needed. Getting a visa and health insurance is fun as it is part of organizing your big trip. The only disadvantage is that planning the PCT from Europe is more expensive." 


"Having a significant other far away in Europe or other parts of the world is definitely challenging. If you decide on hiking the PCT without your partner both you and him/her should be aware that you won’t see your significant other in person for a couple of months and that you sometimes won’t have contact for days. The person back home doesn’t know how your are doing and the other way around. Anyway, if you decide on hiking the PCT think about doing it together. If that’s not an option talk a lot about it and make sure that being separated for such a long time is ok for both of you. "


"Try to make as much out of it as possible. You will see the most amazing landscapes and animals, you will meet wonderful people and make lifelong friendships. Focus on that every day especially when your blisters hurt again badly. It helps a lot.

Write a journal to remember all the details of your journey. After you leave the trail it will help you keep the memories vivid. And it’s highly entertaining to read it to friends at home and explain that you were lying super afraid of bears in your tent the first nights.

Be sure that you really want to do it and be honest with yourself. Ask yourself if you are ok with sleeping in a tent for months, pooing in self-dug holes, being on your own, a having little access to hygiene and bad weather conditions over days. If you are, you will have the best time of your life."

Rainbow Trout

Backpacking Experience

In decent shape, running a lot, and hiking around Paris. Training didn't prepare for elevation, terrain

Hart's Pass headed south in a group of 4 French friends - July 9th

Reached So. Kennedy Mead
N/A, flip-flopped Sierras 

Hike Result
Made it to the US/Mexico border, but missed a couple big sections of the trail. 


All four members of the Frenchtastic Four had professional jobs and were living in Paris together in the same apartment. One rainy day in January 2016, Rainbow Trout shared the idea of doing the PCT. One friend challenged another saying, “you’ll never do it,” daring each other to back down. They spent 2-3 hours that day planning logistics and finances and then decided to wait three days to see if everyone was still interested. If so, they’d buy plane tickets. That momentum lasted, and they booked flights that week. Six months later they were in Northern Washington starting the PCT southbound.

They made it south from Hart's Pass to Ashland, OR, and then decided to flip flop down to the Sierras and hike from Walker Pass north to the Oregon border. They started the flip on the 6th of September, made it through the Sierras, and then hit bad snow storms near South Lake Tahoe. Rainbow Trout and Refill got off there and hitched back to Walker Pass headed south. Top Ramen and Dirt Arrow continued north, making it as far as Mt. Shasta before going back to Walker Pass and heading south. 

From right - Refill, Top Ramen, Dirt Arrow, and Rainbow Trout

From right - Refill, Top Ramen, Dirt Arrow, and Rainbow Trout


“Make sure your goals are clear before you go. We had no idea what it would be like, everything we thought and we were discussing about was made of dreams and impressions and videos we’ve seen here and there. So we made our goals while we were walking, but we could have talked about it before. Some of us wanted to take it more chill and enjoy the trail, and some of us wanted it to be a sports challenge where you do the best and go as far as you can in a limited amount of time. Now I know the trail and that seems obvious to me (to make clear goals about expectations), but back then I’m not sure if I would have been able to clearly voice what I expected from it.”

“Generally speaking, everything went really fine for the four of us together, expect for when we were hungry or thirsty or had a bad nights sleep. When you are hungry, you don’t see the trail in the same way. You look at your shoes and think 'I want food' instead of looking around and seeing the beauty. So that’s the same way, when we discussed where to rest, or resupply, there was less patience when one person wasn’t in sync with the three others. When three are in good shape but someone is sick or having a bad day, the group should be thoughtful and try to ease the tension. It’s hard to understand and have empathy for the person that is suffering, but it pays to put yourself in his or her shoes. 

"If someone had to stop their hike the rest of us would’ve kept going for sure. We also said if someone is sick for more than three days and we have to stop, we should leave on the fourth day and the other person can catch up via car. It (deciding to go ahead or stay when a friend is sick) really really depends on the situation."


"We took six months to research everything and buy the gear. When you talk about long distance hiking at a gear store in Europe, they don’t really understand. They think either you are doing The Camino in Spain, which is pretty easy in terms of terrain, or you are doing some actual climbing or mountaineering. So we bought the packs from Hyperlite in Maine (and other gear in the US). The only piece of equipment from Europe we used was a French sleeping bag, and it was the only piece that compared with US gear in terms of warmth/price/weight."

“It takes a lot of time (planning from Europe), nothing sounds familiar, and you have no idea which town is big, which name is a trail angel name or a city or a town, what Oregon is, etc. It’s hard with the names because they are so unfamiliar and don’t stick in your head. We didn’t really understand the notion of a desert, and it took time to grasp the environment from the maps. You need patience. Wrap your head around the measurement systems, like the mileage, beforehand. And the weights - ounces and pounds, because if you go on a gear list and everything is listed, for us it doesn’t mean anything. 

"It took us six months to plan and we were living in the same apartment, so we could talk everyday. It would be way more complicated if you were 3, 4 people having different life schedules and trying to meet once a week or something. We didn't know where to start. The visa, the permits, the flights. What shall we do first? I think you should get your start date that works best for you, then register for the visa, and in the meantime get your PCT permit. The US Embassy mostly wanted to know you had enough money to sustain yourself."


"Get two pairs of socks for real. Wet feet is the worst for me. I don’t even care if you take one pair of underwear. But take two pairs of socks."  

"Heavy protein bars make me throw up, they are awful."

"Talk to anyone you meet on the trail, because they could have a beer or candy for you or something. Everyone you meet that isn’t a hiker has food and might give it to you. Always give it a try."


Solar Body

Backpacking Experience
Appalachian Trail '15

Taekwondo master. Hikes about about 3~4 times per month, tries to stay in generally good shape. 

July 1st from Devil's Juction, north to border. Started south on July3rd from the border. 

Reached So. Kennedy Mead.
October 1st

Hike Result
Made it to US/Mexico Border



Solar Body was raised by Buddhist parents and has been practicing philosophy and background of Buddhism for several years. He believes that each mountain has its own character and spirit. Not only do mountains have spirits, but all parts of nature like trees, rocks, water, sun, and so on are living things and they can talk to him. Solar Body has been communicating with nature’s spirit since the AT. He is certain he was able to finish the AT and the PCT successfully not because he was strong enough, but because of the help from nature and everything surrounding him. You don’t know how many times he had said, “Thank you” on the trails. He probably said it roughly about 1,000 times. Mother Nature, listened, guided him, and protected him. After all, he was able to finish the PCT as he had planned without any barriers such as skipping, flipping, or getting off the trail.

Things were not always easy for Solar Body. He had a hard time hiking the desert in Southern California. Solar Body is from New York, home of the green tunnel. Therefore, he got tired easily in dry conditions with no shade and no water. Sometimes he would even blame the person who built this trail. However, he would quickly realized how much he appreciates all the water that is set up by someone else.

Solar Body also kept a video blog of his PCT trip that can be found on his youtube page. 


"Originally, the reason why I started recording my hikes was for my future generation. I want to give them inspiration and challenge their spirit. Then, all of sudden, I asked myself, “Why only for my family? It could be for everyone all over the world.” This is why I added subtitles in my videos even though my English is not perfect. I wanted everyone and anyone to deliver a message to young Korean citizens who are struggling in the rat race in a tiny country. I want to tell them to get out! Be adventurous! Challenge yourself!! This is the message I wanted to send to them. In order to do this, I thought video recording was the most effective way than any other method.

When I hiked the AT, my cellphone (Galaxy S5) was the only device for recording. I was happy with that for sure. But this time, on the PCT, I brought a mirrorless camera (Panasonic G7) for better results, especially to take landscape images. I also used my cellphone for self videos. Personally, I don’t like fish eye images of the GoPro.

If you plan to film the trail, you can be flexible and take whatever you want. Video recording is time consuming work for the thru-hiker but it is totally worth it."


"I began hiking the mountains in 2010. I had never heard of the Appalachian Trail before then. Actually, I never even hiked before then. One day in 2011, I ran into one stinky AT thru-hiker in Harriman State Park New York. He inspired me in various ways. I then began dreaming about AT thru-hiking.

In order to fulfill my dream and train, for a couple of years, I hiked sections of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, in that order, by myself. I’ve also done solo backpacking trips in several National Parks. During this time, I realized that I prefer to hike solo due to the flexible time management. However, this isn’t the case all the time.

In 2015, I tried to find someone to hike the entire Appalachian Trail with me but I couldn’t find anyone. So I went solo. It went well. I learned a lot from the hikers, nature, townies etc. As you know, the trail life is like this : You meet other solo hikers on the trail, form a group, and then separate as you go along your different ways. You may meet people that have more backpacking experience than you or you may meet people that have no backpacking experience. Either way, as you meet people, you can pick at their brains. You might end up changing your gear setup, your maildrop strategy, or even food ideas based on what you learn from others. So you say you are not an experienced hiker? That’s fine. The execution is what is more important."


"Believe me when I tell you this, I’m not a fast hiker. Therefore, I tried to hike out earlier than others and called it a day later than others. I set my own rules such as, start hiking before 6am. My average hiking time was about 14~15 hours every day until I finished the journey. Sometimes I hiked until 10pm or 1am depending on my condition. I carried 6 extra batteries for the head lamp for the hike during the night. The only reason I spent lots of time on the trail was because of my video recording. I had to stop a lot. Some of the hikers that I hike with know how often I stopped to take a shoot. Stop and go, stop and go, and you continue this.... Sometimes, I didn’t want to lose the momentum but I had to stop because it was so beautiful. I just couldn’t keep going.

At the same time, as a thru-hiker, there are certain miles I have to go everyday. Especially Sobos who have relatively a shorter window should be in a hurry. There is no secret to make big miles for me."

PCT vs. AT

"This is one of the most common questions I’ve received on the PCT. When it comes to comparing between AT and the PCT, I need 5 pages. But I’m going to make it short here. Which one is harder?

Weather : PCT is colder and hotter and drier. AT is a wet trail. Your feet get wet almost half of your trip.

Resupply : There is not big difference. You need to hitch anyway. I’ve never felt that the resupply on the PCT was harder.  

Water source : You will have no problem with water on the AT. I carried only 1 liter most of the time on the AT. On the other hand, the PCT is no joke! Lack of water is one of the difficulties of the trail.

Trail : In my opinion, AT is 2 times harder physically. Let’s do the math. It took 5 months for 2200 miles of the AT. It took 3.5 months for 2650 miles of the PCT. Consecutive 20 miles on the AT is very hard. On the PCT consecutive 30 miles is doable."


"Be thankful for everything that surrounds you and say it.

If it rains 3 days in a row, say thank you for sending the rain. All living things need the rain.
If you see the trees, say thank you for giving me a shade.
If you see the rocks, say thank you for letting me sit.
If the sun is hot, say thank you for giving me a breath of life.
If the wind blows, say thank you for touching of life.
They all listen to what you are saying. And they give it back to you.
Treat all the nature and animals like a friend. Then you won’t be afraid of anything anymore.

Stop complaining and start being positive.
When you start complaining, there is no end.
Don’t get upset about the never-ending road walking or sandy trail, no natural water source, no shade etc, it’s over before you know it.

Treat it like a vacation.
Think how lucky, how happy you are. Your job is to wake up whenever you want, walk for as long as you want, eat whatever you want. And you will meet the most amazing people ever on the trail and in trail towns."

Hardcore & Luna

Backpacking Experience
Nothing big. Many day hikes, a couple of 2 days hikes and that’s pretty much it.

In decent shape and decided to walk the road from a little campground north of Oliver BC to Hart’s Pass.

Hart’s Pass, didn’t go to the border (should have)

Date Reached So. Kennedy Meadows
 Around October 24th

Hike Result
Completed thru-hike but had to skip 100 miles of San Jacinto area


Jean-Sébastien is a 20 year old French Canadian. He studied social sciences in Quebec City and then started university in Criminology. At that point of his life he started asking himself questions about his happiness and his life goals. One day, Jean-Sébastien got tired of walking the path that people had made for him and decided to take another one. He quit his program and decided to travel around. He crossed Canada from East to West to end up in British Columbia, where he made a spontaneous decision to hike the PCT.


"I made the decision (to hike the PCT) when I was in that campground filled with partying French Canadians, Loose Bay campground. It’s just up north of Oliver, BC, where a lot of French Canadian young people crash for the summer to work picking fruits. So I was sitting on a camping chair on June 24th, a very hot day, in that campground. June 24th is the French Canadian national holiday, AKA the Saint-Jean-Baptiste, so needless to say I was hungover. At that point I had had many thoughts for the PCT. It was very appealing to me. Not only for the scenery it would give me but also because it looked like an unrealistic challenge that I could not achieve. For a long time I wanted to do something that was a little bit extraordinary, I was tired to be with the same kind of people that I had been around all my life. So sitting on that camping chair, I told my buddy that I would start walking toward Mexico 2 days from there. And I did. From that campground, at 5 AM, as the last person was going to bed, I started walking toward the Pacific Crest Trail. It was June 26th. I crossed the US border by night, on foot. The guy at the border was a little bit confused as I told him I was walking to Mexico. I told him I was going toward the PCT and he understood me a little better. I walked on the 97 and the 20. I slept mostly in orchards along the way, eating tons of cherries. I made it to Hart’s Pass on July 10th."


"Luna was my best companion on trail. You create an awesome relation with your dog and it just becomes your best buddy. But it was more work. Especially with a young dog like Luna that was still figuring things out. It can be overwhelming sometimes when you don’t feel like making discipline. Main cons : have to find dog food, carry more water, can’t go in restaurants (not a big deal to eat on the porch in my opinion), can’t take them in the National Parks, can’t ride some transportation. Main pros : buddy with a positive attitude, helps with getting rides, keeps the bears away, warm at night, eats your leftovers, never feel lonely, you give them a great time. When I boarded her to go hike the Sierras I felt a sort of a void without her. I thought it would be nice to have a pet caring break but I was just missing her the whole time. It made me realized how cool her presence was on the trail even if she was annoying sometimes. To me, it was all worth it."


"For Canadians that want to hike the trail, buying your gear in an REI might be a good move if it’s something possible for you. REI will basically refund anything that is broken up to a year after the purchase. Even a backpack shredded by a bear. And fact is that a lot of your stuff will break or be damaged because you use it 10 time more than the average person. Also, try to find a contact in the states that will be able to ship prepared boxes for you when you need them. If you don’t know anyone, don’t worry, you can send boxes from towns where they have big groceries like Cascade Locks, Tehachapi, etc. You can also thru-hike without shipping any boxes but you will save money if you do. Some stops are very expensive."


"Hike your own thru-hike. You will meet people that will judge about how you or other hikers do your things. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting advice from more experienced hikers. But if you want to carry a bongo because you think it makes your hike more pleasant and it’s worth the weight, just do it. If you like fresh fruits enough to carry them on trail, just do it. You’ll hear people telling you what you should do or not do all the time but remember you are free tp ignore this advice. This is your thru-hike and only you know how to do it to make the most out of it.

Have a positive attitude. I noticed that I was having a much better time with the positive people than with the negative ones. Being positive will make people around you more positive too, and seeing positive people around will make you more positive… to the infinite. So avoid complaining even when you have a bad day and just try to see the good out of everything. It will make everyday a better day.

Injuries are all in the head. It’s always easy to blame injuries but the truth is that most of the injuries can heal fast enough to keep going. Don’t try to keep going if you break a leg, but if it’s a minor injury that heals in less than a week, it shouldn’t stop you. My ankle was sprained and after 2 days I went back on trail. It was hurting a bit at first and got better while hiking. For all your blisters, irritation and little injuries : yes it hurts, but it’s part of the deal. I promise that you won’t regret to have gone over it because the PCT is one of the best thing you’ll ever do and it’s worth the pain!

Little technical tip to finish : don’t buy all your pair of shoes before your hike. Your feet are probably going to get bigger and you don’t want to be in a pair of shoes that is too small for you!"

The Greek

Backpacking Experience  
Had never hiked for multiple days.

In the worst shape of his life having a sedentary lifestyle for the past 3-4 years. His only physical preparation was "to walk for a few miles with my pack full and get fat"

South on the PCT from Stehekin, WA - July 10th

Date Reached So. Kennedy Meadows

Hike Result
Stopped at Chester, CA


The Greek first heard about people hiking for months on the Appalachian trail around 2009 and was immediately fascinated. He always wondered if he would ever do something like that himself. A few years later he heard about a similar trail along the Pacific Coast and just by looking at the scenery knew that this was the trail for him. In 2015 he got to visit Mt. Hood and felt he had to attempt it or else regret it forever. After spending months fantasizing about it and convincing himself that it was not for him, in 2016 he was ready for a change in his life and finally decided to go for it.

He spent 3-4 months preparing by reading online gear recommendations, blogs, and any related information he could find. He trained for a couple of days and then started together with Carbon (they had been working together at the University of Minnesota) on July 10th, 2016 from Stehekin. Although he started with the will to reach Mexico he ended up putting the trail on hold indefinitely after reaching Chester, CA, on September 12th, 2016. He got off trail because maintaining a relationship while on the trail, especially one across the world, turned out to be a lot more difficult than he expected. At the end this made the trail not as enjoyable. But he will be back one day to finish it!


"Going SOBO is like riding a roller coaster straight from the top. Northern WA has some of the most difficult and isolated sections of the whole trail. Which is great, but in our case it meant a hell of time to get from Stehekin to Stevens Pass, due mostly to being unprepared physically and not having hiking poles. I ended up having to do most of that section with pain in my knees and swelling in my right ankle. The weather, which was quite wet and cold, as well as the presence of snow, fog, and bad trail conditions, made this section quite the ordeal. Having said that, those first sluggish (we probably didn't do more than 12 miles a day) and painful days were some of my favorite on the trail. Life on the trail was exciting, nature was magnificent, and the sense of accomplishment at the end was exhilarating."


"A reason why that first section was so hard for me was that my preparation was one-sided. I spent a lot of time choosing gear and reading about other people's experiences on the trail and not enough time in preparing my body to endure. Reading was definitely worth it, I was very satisfied with almost all of my gear and had a very good idea of what the overall experience would be but not getting fit wasn’t. You can get fit on the trail but it’s going to be painful and risky. I recovered from my injuries without much of a delay but they could have also ended my hike prematurely. Another aspect of preparation is having experience with multi-day hiking. Ideally when preparing for the PCT you would want to do at least one 3-4 day trip and if possible on a section of the PCT with the gear you plan to use. If this is not possible plan for low mileage days at the start so your body can adjust and then larger mileage will come naturally. "


"Hiking together with someone else is comforting and makes the whole endeavor less scary. We saw a bear after about 5 miles into the trail, the first bear I had seen in my life! Although the bear got up and left it would have been a much scarier experience if I was alone. However, it turns out that it's not always possible for two people to keep the same hiking pace throughout the day. So what we did, and what most hikers traveling together do, is for each person to travel at his own pace but meet at pre-agreed locations for lunch breaks or camping at night. That way you still have the companionship of others and are not restricted in how fast you have to walk."


"Although I was having a great time and was finally making big miles my decision to stop came from wanting to be with my girlfriend more than being on the trail. For this reason I decided it's better to stop and come back to finish it another time when I can enjoy it to its fullest. This decision was not something I anticipated or wanted when I started and it was a struggle against my urge to complete the PCT. I still feel I made the right decision and have no regrets. It made me realize what is really important to me. Hiking the PCT is about the journey, and journeys don't always take you where you expected.

No matter how hard the day was or how much my feet hurt I don't remember a time that I didn't feel happy lying on the notoriously uncomfortable Therm-a-Rest Z Lite trying to get some sleep. There is something magical about living in nature, pushing your body to its limits and the simplicity of life on the trail that I miss greatly since I stopped."


"Make sure you find a good pair of durable shoes that fit well. After a long day of hiking your feet are the ones that are going to make you stop, so having good shoes is crucial. My first pair of shoes (Altra Lone Peak 2.0), although very comfortable, completely fell apart after the first few days in Washington and I had to wrap them with duct tape to make it to Cascade Locks. Also, consider that your feet might grow while on the trail which might mean trouble if your feet are large to begin with. The largest shoes I could find in Ashland (size 13) were too small for my feet at that point. I was hoping I would break them in after a couple of days but instead I ended up losing two toenails and suffering for days.

If you are going SOBO expect snow in Washington. Even if online snow coverage maps appear to have little or no snow there might be a few small patches and they are enough to cause a scary experience or even worse, a serious accident. For me walking over snow covered slopes in WA was by far the scariest moment of my hike.

Another thing to expect that I didn't see mentioned a lot during my preparation is that the trail conditions, especially in WA can be extremely bad. There were sections with hundreds of blowdown trees, thick brush and washed out trail. Overall the trail in WA is really wild and isolated which also made it my favorite part. Just keep this in mind when planning miles and be prepared for a tough and slow start.

One more thing to expect when going SOBO is the solitude of the first few weeks. Most of the days in WA we would see at most 2 or 3 other hikers and camp by ourselves. This is a vastly different experience from going NOBO and I heard for some people it took weeks until they had a campsite on their own. If that's good or not it depends on you but it's good to keep in mind.

If you are not sure if you are going to need hiking poles then you are going to need hiking poles. In other words, unless you are an experienced hiker that prefers not using hiking poles then do yourself a favor and make them the first item in your gear list. I started without hiking poles thinking it would be a hassle to carry them around and ended up injuring both my knees and one of my ankles on the first few days of the trail. I then started to carry two sticks I found and although they kept me hiking despite my injuries they were heavy and tiresome. Upgrading to hiking poles made hiking so much more enjoyable and I didn't suffer any further injuries.

If you decide on getting a sawyer filter absolutely get the sawyer squeeze over the sawyer mini. The flow is like day and night, the extra money and weight is definitely worth it.

Talk to people. Talk to everyone you see. A few will talk too much or too little or their advice will be crap, but most of the times you will learn something useful or listen to a cool story they have to share. I found that the best people to talk to are middle-aged section hikers. They have the time to talk and the best stories to share. Of course when you hit the NOBO bubble you will get tired greeting more than 50 of them a day but it's still the best way to get information for what's coming up ahead.

Don't stress out! Things always work out on the trail."