Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Less Than 60 Days

Last April, I decided 2020 was the year I’d hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). We had family visiting from Seattle that week and were showing them all Tennessee had to offer. We took a trip to Gatlinburg,  Tennessee, a small tourist town nestled at the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

It’s Thru-Hiker Season

As we walked the streets of Gatlinburg, it didn’t take long for me to notice it was thru-hiker season. We passed handfuls of visitors wearing the traditional thru-hiker uniform: shorts, trail runners, and a puffy jacket. We would occasionally pass a group just rolling into town with their packs still fastened to their backs. I felt a twinge of envy as I walked past, wishing I could join them.

A Pivotal Moment

It was a cold sunny morning in the low 30s, the trees were encrusted with ice, and we were standing in the parking lot at Newfound Gap, the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina. I witnessed thru-hikers exiting and entering the trailheads of the Appalachian Trail (AT). I felt that familiar twinge of envy and I thought to myself, “What am I waiting for?!” This moment solidified my decision, and I returned home to begin planning a 2020 thru-hike of the PCT.

Less Than 60 Days

Now, ten months later, I am a few weeks away from my early April start date and in the final phases of preparation to hike the PCT. My days are spent training, setting up resupply, organizing gear, and practicing my outdoor skills. I’m days away from submitting notice to my employer and a few weeks away from my last day worked. As the days pass, my excitement grows, and I am starting to feel that anxious knot that sits in your stomach when you’re about to take a big leap.

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For backpacking recipes check out my last post: Backpacker’s Test Kitchen: My Resupply Strategy

To learn about my first backpacking experiences see my previous post: Introduction to Backpacking: My Fears, Therapy, and Friends

Want to know how I saved $8,000 in four months for my 2020 PCT hike? Click here!

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