PCT Preparation – A Foreign Concept

Preparing for the PCT is hard

Even after securing your spot on the trail there is so much to do. Packing up your life into a backpack is hard at the best of times. There is a seemingly infinite amount of physical items that need to find a place to live, whether that be in your backpack or in some form of storage location. Loose ends at work and in your personal life need to be tied up, at least for a period of time. Friends and relatives, all need to ask their questions and gawk when you tell them how far you intend to walk. We also have a small, furry, wet-nose little creature living in our house who needs to be taken care of.  This is not an unusual tale – one that has been covered in many a trail-blogger introduction on this site before us.

Preparing for the PCT from another country is really hard

In just under 2 months, we will be packing our life up and preparing to walk up to Canada. However, we differ from most thru-hikers in that we intend to continue up into Canada to set up more of a much longer term camp.

We both met at university in northern tropical Australia where we bonded over our love of the outdoors. TJ moved from a much colder side of the globe, Canada, and I had to move a whole 4 hours from home. Throughout our studies we managed to knock off many of the must-do trails in Australia – including the Thorsborne Trail, Overland Track, and Cooloola/Sandy National Park Great Walk to name a few. We have been planning to make the move back to TJ’s home country for some time now, but got waylaid over the last 3 years (I can’t exactly recall why). We have made the most of our time in Australia, but are now looking forward to revisiting our original plan to move to Canada, just making our way by foot this time.

To do that, we have been trolling through forums, blogs and Youtube videos, all in an attempt to be completely prepared for anything and everything that may cross our path on our long walk North. All of the typical resources out there are fantastic, but often don’t include how to navigate the specifics of tackling a once in a lifetime hike for people outside of the States.

Turns out Australia is not America

For one, much of the recommended gear is from REI or a smaller manufacturer and is hard to come by Down Under. When it is, it can be twice the price. Through our reading of Halfway Anywhere’s gear list for the PCT we assembled our Ultimate Gear List, which we quickly had to downsize after further research into local suppliers. We have had to make a few concessions here and there, but overall, we are happy with our gear and have a few shakedowns to sort out any niggles (which we will hopefully have a short write up about).

Being a Canadian, TJ is able to spend as much time (up to 6 months) as she needs in the US to walk home. No special visas required. I however, can spend 90 days on a visitor visa. The alternative to this is getting a B2 visa which allows me to spend 6 months in the country. This process is quite arduous and requires you fill out an online survey to confirm that you are, in fact, not a war criminal, drug trafficker or any other sort of nasty person. Then you must travel interstate to sit an interview where they will grill you over your plans. Luckily for me, my interviewer was an avid hiker and my passport was stamped without too much hassle. Phew!

In just under 2 months we need to have our entire life packed up. There is still so much to do but we couldn’t be more excited to get our first dusty steps under our shoes.

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