Another PCT Logistics Post

I promised myself that I wouldn’t add to the extensive repository of blogs about the logistics of thru hiking the PCT, yet here I am – writing another PCT logistics blog.  I changed my mind for two reasons:

  • As one of my friends told me: “there might be a ton of people writing about the PCT, but I don’t know any of them – I’m interested in what you have to say.”
  • Because I think I strike a balance between the meticulous planner and the “I’ll figure it out” types.  I haven’t read too many middle path logistics blogs.  This is the logistics plan for the hiker who wants some structure, but not too much.

My logistics plan is all about flexibility and making it easier for me to look forward while I’m on the trail.  I’m not packing boxes ahead of time, I’m not planning down to the nearest detail.  I have two main objectives for my pre-hike logistics prep:

  • Figure out everywhere I will likely need to conduct a resupply by mail
  • Build an easy to read reference that allows me to quickly look three weeks into the future without having to go digging around on FarOut*.  The reason I want to be able to quickly look three weeks out is because that’s about how much lead time I’ll need if I have to mail something to myself further down the trail.

*If you’re unfamiliar, FarOut is a navigation app that just about everyone uses on the PCT and other long distance trails.  It includes a social aspect where people can leave comments on waypoints – very useful when working on a logistics plan.

Show us the spreadsheet

Look, I’m a big spreadsheet guy.  I find it deeply satisfying to make a killer spreadsheet.  Between getting an engineering degree, some time spent as a staff officer in the Army, and working in commercial real estate the last few years, I’ve learned to love building a sexy little spreadsheet that takes the guesswork out of whatever I’m trying to figure out.  I’m not the best out there for sure, but I’d say I’m a solid B+.  Not good enough to call myself a true professional, but pretty high up in the amateur rankings.  You get the idea.  A person can do a lot of really cool shit with a spreadsheet.

Here’s a copy of it that you can download if you want to use it for yourself.  I’m not responsible for any typos or errors – use at your own risk.  I also won’t claim that I put a ton of extensive research into this either, I spent maybe three hours building this sheet and collecting info by reading comments on FarOut.  If you’re so inclined I’m sure you can improve upon this.  I saw a fancier looking one posted somewhere on Reddit but there was way too much going on with that one for my taste.

Edit 29March2024: I found a nicer spreadsheet that someone else made.  It’s two years old so some info might be out of date but here ya go:

In putting this sheet together I was able to figure out all of the places that I would very likely need a resupply by mail. I also now have a simple and easy to use product that will make it easier to make resupply decisions on the trail.  I can also make edits easily on my phone to reflect a changing situation on the trail.  Is it perfect?  No, but it’s plenty good enough I think.

A screenshot of an excel spreadsheet used for planning resupplies along the PCT.

Screenshot from the logistics spreadsheet.

The bottom line

I’m trying to keep most of my food carries under 100 miles, so most places where I would have a stretch longer than that I am planning for a resupply by mail.  I’m planning for a mail resupply at the following locations:

  • Paradise Valley Cafe, CA (for ice spikes and ice axe only)
  • Kennedy Meadows South, CA (bear can, possible crampons and boots)
  • Possibly Independence, CA (alternately, could hitch a 40 mile ride to Bishop.)
  • Crater Lake, OR
  • Crescent Lake, OR
  • Snoqualmie, WA
  • Skykomish, WA
  • Possibly Stevens Pass, WA
  • Stehekin, WA

The only other mail resupply I foresee is a potential shoe resupply or some other piece of hard to purchase gear.  I like to hike in Topo shoes and it doesn’t seem that they’re as ubiquitous as the Altras, so I might need to mail myself a pair.  REI doesn’t even carry them!

Eventually I’ll put out a blog about my packing list.  Probably not till I have a month or so on the trail – I’m sure I’ll make some adjustments the first couple weeks.  I start April 2nd – so expect that blog sometime in May.  Maybe.

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Comments 1

  • Jeff Greene : Mar 24th

    I camp near Vermillion every summer, and while it is a great place and they have great food and great people and a great hiker box and a free beer for every permitted hiker (the non-free ones can be a bit pricey, tbh…), the store doesn’t have as much in the way of backpacking supply options as you’d think. Lots of people ship their boxes there, though. You’ll have come and gone by the time my buddies and I will be there in July, but good luck!


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