Questions PCT trekkers will get from “The Mother Hen’s”

Ok, what the hell are “The Mother Hen’s”?

We all know what a Mother Hen is, but here is my personal rendition on the popular term. I define “The Mother Hen’s” as the home team that bring up all the concerning facts from the deep dark web(thanks mom, love ya!) about thru-hiking to scare you into staying home. I have consolidated some of their questions for you all and I hope it helps calm the nerves of your own “Mother Hen’s”. Without further ado….

“What are you going to do for money?”

Simple answer. Absolutely nothing! As all past thru-hikers know, unless your job is one in which you can check in every 7-10 days, you must quit your job. I am very fortunate in which my employer pushes their employees to explore life and they are willing to hold my position in the company for me till my return.

“Is it safe?”

Well, yes and no. Each year, thousands and thousands attempt the entire PCT or section hike throughout the 2,650 mile trail. Every minute of your life you are technically in some sort of danger, but that won’t enthuse your own “Mother Hen’s” to feel safe as you head out on the PCT. Yes, there are things on the trail that can hurt you, maime you, even kill you. However it comes down to the trekker being adequately prepared for the trek they have decided to embark on. Make sure to take your time through creek crossings, snowy passes, and in the heat of the desert. As long as you prepare properly, you will be A.O.K. 

“What will you do to defend yourself against a bear attack?”

I laugh at the number of times I have already been asked this. Throughout California, Oregon, and Washington there is a population 35,000+ strong of black bears. However, throughout my whole hiking career(if you can call it that?) I have yet to come in contact with a bear on the trail. That being said, I have had the night-time alarm clock of a bear playing soccer with my bear canister.

Here are my tips for dealing with bears in the backcountry:

1) Bring a bear canister from Kennedy Meadows(Mile 700) onward

Many of the national parks and forests, including but not limited to, Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Lassen require canisters. Rangers can(and probably) will be on the trail verifying you are properly equipped with the proper canister per the parks regulations. 

2) Make sure to wash dishes at least 200 feet from your camp, this way the tasty smell of your dinner stays away from your tent.

3) Keep any product such as deodorant, toothpaste, soap, food scraps, candy bar wrappers inside the bear box. Just add a separate bag specifically for trash because what we pack in we must pack out right?

4) In the case you come across bear cubs(very rare chance), do NOT get close to them. Give them their space as the mother is almost assuredly close by.

5) If in a situation where you may be attacked by a bear, make yourself as big and loud as possible. Stand your ground and do NOT back away from the bear. If actually attacked, fight back with anything and everything as it is now a fight for your life.

“What if you get hurt? Will anyone find you?”

The PCT is such a highly trafficked trail, especially on sections of the JMT(John Muir Trail), that the chances of you not seeing another person for 3+ days would be pretty shocking. However, I always day-hike and backpack with not only a whistle but also with my Delorme inReach Explorer® as an satellite messenger/SOS device. I would also highly recommend leaving a family member or trusted friend with your trip plan so they know if you do not check in to call the proper authorities.


“How will you stay in contact if you need to change your food shipments or want to exit the trail?”

Thru hikers on the PCT, as reported by USFS, tend to get an average of 70% coverage along the trek, which is pretty remarkable if you know about the dense trees of the Sierras. However, I would suggest bringing a Satellite Messenger/SOS device, such as my Delorme inReach Explorer®, as it only requires a view of the sky to send a message to a cell phone or email address. Yes, they require a subscription but it is worth the $11.99 to have a way to keep in-contact with family.

Are there burning questions about the PCT that YOU want to have answered?

Let me know in the comments below and I will try to answer them for you in an upcoming post! 

Till then, follow my adventures of prepping for the PCT on my Instagram, AndrewMcPhotography!

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