Last Minute Advice for PCT Thru Hikers

A thru hike is a once in a lifetime experience. It’s special. It’s a break from the normalcy of city life – an opportunity to find your soul and enjoy a 6 month love affair with Nature.

Start Slow

If you blitz through the trail you will go back to ‘normal life’ sooner. You’ve given yourself a break from that, enjoy it. And more importantly, in the beginning of your hike, take care of your body.

Take your time – there’s no need to rush. You don’t have to make it to Lake Morena on your first day. Those first 20 miles aren’t the easiest. And if your feet and body aren’t ready for it, you’ll be hurting.

Have enough water to make it to Lake Morena on your 2nd day. Stay smart and listen to your body.

Starting the PCT thru hike

Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open

Often times rattlesnakes will rattle to alert you of their presence. If you’re plugged in and oblivious to your surroundings you won’t hear them and will be at real risk of being bitten.

Rattlesnakes are a threat in Northern California and Southern Oregon too. Getting to Kennedy Meadows doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods yet. Pun indented.

Carry a Rain Jacket

At times it gets very cold in the desert – even in the spring. It can also rain too. Be prepared.

thru hike through the desert - it can rain

My smile quickly went away after lightning struck, thunder clapped and hail turned into a downpour.

Early Snow

Pay attention to the conditions on Fuller Ridge in the San Jacinto area. Same goes for the Knife’s Edge and the Mount Baden-Powell area. Both places can be very slippery and you may need traction aids. Take your time and get through these areas safely.

early seaon on a thru hike

The trail after Mount Baden Powell

Even Lost People Leave Footprints

Know how to navigate instead of simply following footprints. People go off the trail to dig a hole, others just get lost. These people leave footprints in the snow too. If you follow the wrong set of footprints, you can get lost as well.


Team Up For River Crossings

If you get caught in the heat wave and rivers swell due to rapid snow melt, team up with other hikers. Fording rivers with others can be easier.

It’s OK to Skip Ahead

Being way out of your comfort zone isn’t fun and can be dangerous. It’s OK to skip ahead and come back later to finish a section.

What others think doesn’t matter.

What matters is your safety.

Your ego may not like this, but swallow your pride and do what is best for yourself!

late season on a thru hike

The Sierras in September

Enjoy Your Hike

It ain’t all about the miles. Stop and soak your feet in a river if you feel like it. Take a nap in a beautiful meadow when tired. Have a snack atop a ridge and soak in the views. Camp early at an amazing campsite.

Best campsite on our thru hike

Stopped after 16 miles. Campsite was too good to pass up!

Why not?

Happy Hiking!

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