Backpacker Radio #221 | Al “Lookout” Marriott on Hiking Through the Sierra in a Record Snow Year (PCT 2023)

In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are joined by Al Marriott, known on trail as Lookout. Lookout is a 2023 PCT thru-hiker, and one of the very few who was able to connect their footsteps on a continuous northbound hike through the Sierra. This is the main course of our conversation today as we learn all about the wild conditions Lookout and his crew of 6 fellow hikers endured, including some very close call water crosses, how slow and draining the snow travel was, what snow traction worked best for his group (and it might not be what you expect), the energy requirements for this style of trekking, and the group dynamics of traveling in such close proximity for such a long time through such stressful conditions. This one is a doozy.

We wrap the show with a quick overview of how much experience is needed to hike the AT, things that get less appetizing as we get older, and a triple crown of the best places for people watching.

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Interview with Al “Lookout” Marriott

Time stamps & Questions

00:04:02 – Reminders: Apply to be a 2024 Trek Blogger, submit your poop stories, and follow us Patreon

00:06:59 – Introducing Lookout

00:07:27 – Tell us about your photography setup

00:08:23 – Where are you from?

00:09:56 – Did you do any long distance backpacking in Britain?

00:11:45 – How did you come to bounce between Australia and Thailand?

00:13:16 – What permits did you need to come to the US to hike the AT?

00:17:10 – Did you feel pressure on the AT to make sure your schedule worked?

00:19:27 – What snow hiking experience did you have prior to starting the PCT?

00:20:18 – When you started, did you know you wanted to maintain a continuous footpath?

00:21:55 – Did you run into issues before getting to Kennedy Meadows?

00:26:15 – How did you find a group to enter the Sierras with?

00:31:17 – Did you use snow gear going through Apache Peak?

00:32:25 – What was your start date and when did you reach Kennedy Meadows?

00:32:46 – What was the atmosphere of other hikers on trail?

00:33:49 – Tell us about who you entered the Sierras with

00:38:42 – To what extent did your group plan out your strategy ahead of time?

00:41:38 – Picture of the South Fork San Joaquin Bridge damage

00:42:00 – Were you disappointed to skip that section?

00:45:50 – Narrate your Sierra crossing

00:57:38 – Was bringing the snowshoes a good idea?

01:03:54 – How much dry ground did you see in the Sierra?

01:05:19 – Describe the obstacles you encountered before getting to Bishop

01:06:26 – Tell us about the sketchiest water crossings

01:13:54 – Did those close calls affect your confidence or strategies going forward?

01:15:33 – How much of the Sierra was Type I vs. Type II fun?

01:18:21 – Did having a limited time visa impact your thought processes?

01:21:50 – Tell us about sketchy parts of the next stretch

01:30:16 – Tell us about getting trail magic in the Sierra

01:33:40 – Discussion about conveying what it was like to others

01:37:40 – Story about Stitches

01:44:47 – Did the group stay together or break up after the Sierra?

01:49:55 – Story about getting into Tahoe

02:01:18 – What did you get out of this experience?

02:08:04 – Are there any other gaps in topics related to snow that we could cover in the future?

02:14:16 – What was the longest stretch between resupplies?

02:16:40 – Where should people go to follow you?


Trek Propaganda: Can You Hike the Appalachian Trail with No Backpacking Experience? by Diane Duffard

QOTD: What’s something that gets less appetizing the older you get?

Triple Crown of the best places for people watching

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