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5 important facts about the Pacific Crest Trail

  • Feb 16, 2018

Have you ever dreamed of hiking the more than 2,500 miles of Pacific Crest Trail? Stretching from just below the Canadian border in Washington through Oregon and California, the grueling hike cuts through seven national parks, according to Backpacker. Like many, you may have been inspired by the book turned movie, "Wild," by Cheryl Strayed, who completed a solo hike of this trail, known to be one of the hardest in the U.S. Or maybe you simply love the thrill of a daring adventure.

No mater why you've decided to take on the many miles of the PCT, consider these five facts beforehand:

1. The trail runs through 25 national forests
Covering so much ground, passing through a variety of climate zones and ecosystems, the Pacific Crest Trail brings hikers through many national forests, as Backpacker noted. For those who attempt to make the thru-hike in one go, you'll get a glimpse of each of these forests throughout the several-month journey. If you begin your trek in the north, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington will be the first of these forests to greet you.

2. You will need permits
As the Pacific Crest Trail Association explained, abiding by the "leave no trace" guidelines when trekking and camping is one of the most important rules of hiking. These trails were created for enjoying the incredible beauty of nature, and as such, those who travel through are expected to respect all trails, plants and animals. As part of an effort to keep the parks and trails clean, you will need to acquire a campsite permit in certain areas, primarily in the National Parks and Wilderness Areas, noted the PCT Association. 

In some regions, hikers can complete a permit at the beginning of the trail. Several areas in California, however, will require stopping by a ranger station to do so. Either way, prior research of local and state parks will help you determine when and where you will need to obtain permission.

3. Local water needs to be purified 
The Halfway Anywhere blog estimated that PCT hikers will need several hundred liters of water for consumption alone throughout the duration of their hike. While there will be places along the way to stop and purchase sealed plastic water bottles, doing so is not always your best option. Though you will want to have enough water to get you through a day or more, carrying extra weight may slow you down. Additionally, there will be stretches where you will not have access to these stores.

Thus, it's important that hikers bring tools for treating and purifying local water sources, such as rivers, streams and fountains. 

4. Navigation tools are necessary
Trekking along the PCT is straightforward, and trails are usually marked well. Even so, all hikers should be equipped with proper tools and equipment for navigating, as well as the knowledge of how to use said tools, the PCT Association advised. These necessities can include a compass, altimeters, GPS units- all of which can be used on your WSD-F20 Smart Outdoor Watch .

The important thing is never to rely on technology alone. Dead devices and lack of service are just some of the factors that make digital options unreliable. In fact, topographic paper maps are crucial for providing all the details about ground you're covering, according to the PCT Association. In the worst-case scenario of getting lost, these tools will prove beneficial. 

5. PCT elevation is diverse
Preparation for the PCT can take several months and should include elevation training to ensure your breathing and cardiovascular strength are prepared for all parts of the trail. At its highest, the trail reaches 13,200 feet when passing through the High Sierras, according to online thru-hiking resource PMags. If you're beginning in the north, this part of the trek comes after several weeks or even months on the trail. As a result, it's likely that you'll be used to the elevation by this point. It's also important to note that the sun will be stronger in areas of higher elevation, so hats, sunscreen and lots of water are crucial.

With the aforementioned knowledge, you can properly prepare for the PCT.

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