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  1. #1
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    Red face Dividing the walk to avoid snow

    Hi all

    Just joined this forums look forward to all the help I can get!

    I can do the pct over two years but want to avoid people and snow (looking for peace but not my final peace)- any ideas?

    My first thoughts are:

    Year 1

    a) Mid April to mid June - Kennedy Meadows to Capo (Southbound)
    b) July - September - California/Oregon border to Kennedy Meadows

    Year 2

    Mid July - Mid September - Harts Pass to California/Oregon border

    What do you think?

  2. #2
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    You'd avoid most snow in the Sierra that way. Going to be hot in June.

  3. #3
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    Thanks - maybe start early April and walk quicker!

  4. #4
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    Without getting into a litany of pros and cons sticking to your two original goals:

    Yr 1 A: You'll be hiking right into and through, as a guesstimate, for 3-4 wks the brunt of PCTers, those on the most common PCT itinerary doing a NOBO PCT starting at the southern terminus. KM is at about M 700 making Baden Powel/Wrightwood less than 400 miles. Depending on how fast you hike SOBO you could run into snow/ice around here.

    Yr 1 B: Again, same thing running into and through the PCT NOBOers. They will be more spread out and a little thinned by now when you meet the NOBO pack though. You'll be far south of the PCT SOBOers. I'd think more of a mid July start to allow for a fuller melt off. It depends on that yr's snowpack, water content, and how fast it's melting if and/or how much you might experience snow and when you reach some segments that tend to hold snow(again, how fast you're covering ground). Although not as popular as they once were with the increasing tendency for PCTers to rely on apps and cookie cutter LD hiking approaches the Wilderness Press PCT books offer more details on when or on what segments can hold snow. I find that info to be important for you with the no/limited snow goal.

    Yr 2: A mid July SOBO start at Harts Pass certainly doesn't guarantee snow free travel beginning on Day 1. How much snowpack depends on the yr. You'll be with the PCT SOBOers but that itinerary is taken by less than 15% of LD PCT Thrus. It's a more solitudinous experience though. If this itinerary is taken hit the trail in LD hiking fitness condition being able to navigate snow at least on the passes. Don't look for as much on trail assistance as your other itinerary alternatives.

  5. #5
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    Wow - Thanks G and H

    What a fully-formed answer - and thanks for the advice and resources!

    Yr 1 A: You'll be hiking right into and through, as a guesstimate, for 3-4 wks the brunt of PCTers, those on the most common PCT itinerary doing a NOBO PCT starting at the southern terminus. KM is at about M 700 making Baden Powel/Wrightwood less than 400 miles. Depending on how fast you hike SOBO you could run into snow/ice around here.

    I guess, I could hang around at the mountains if there's snow - or leave Campo heading north instead as late as early May? - I guess water could be a real issue on this section in the Fall? (the other option)


    Yr 1 B: Again, same thing running into and through the PCT NOBOers. They will be more spread out and a little thinned by now when you meet the NOBO pack though. You'll be far south of the PCT SOBOers. I'd think more of a mid July start to allow for a fuller melt off. It depends on that yr's snowpack, water content, and how fast it's melting if and/or how much you might experience snow and when you reach some segments that tend to hold snow(again, how fast you're covering ground). Although not as popular as they once were with the increasing tendency for PCTers to rely on apps and cookie cutter LD hiking approaches the Wilderness Press PCT books offer more details on when or on what segments can hold snow. I find that info to be important for you with the no/limited snow goal.

    - Pardon my ignorance but what are - "cookie cutter LD hiking approaches"

    Yr 2: A mid July SOBO start at Harts Pass certainly doesn't guarantee snow free travel beginning on Day 1. How much snowpack depends on the yr. You'll be with the PCT SOBOers but that itinerary is taken by less than 15% of LD PCT Thrus. It's a more solitudinous experience though. If this itinerary is taken hit the trail in LD hiking fitness condition being able to navigate snow at least on the passes. Don't look for as much on trail assistance as your other itinerary alternatives.

    [COLOR=="#0000CD"] I could head north instead of south to acclimatise and get fitter for the hard bits [/COLOR]

  6. #6
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    Starting at Campo early May you avoid the snow and NOBO thru hiking crowds. However, if you hike fast you may get into more of them. Starting in May usually around the mid to third wk is the approach several FKT and yo yo players have taken. Depending on your end pt you may get into some people - non PCT thru hikers - on the JMT and in the Yosemite NP areas. It depends on your appetite for people. Yes, this itinerary allows for altitude acclimation and working yourself into a fitter LD hiking condition for such things as climbs. This will be much hotter and sunnier than anything you regularly experience in Yorkshire so I wouldn't advise hitting Campo very unfit/over wt/obese. By mid May wise water logistics often have greater significance. With this itinerary IMO(in my opinion), especially for you arriving from the UK, you should research the approaches of hot desert hikers ie; early morning and late evening and night hiking, taking the hottest part of the day shaded siestas, avoiding heat stroke, staying hydrated, going really really light wt/UL, etc. This plays into avoiding people too.

    Yes, fall water sources are fewer in the Mojave but temps can be cooler.

    This is just my 2 cts opinion so others may not agree. Cookie cutter LD(long distance) hiking approaches are textbook follow the leader do as what others have done often taking the same approach from LD hike/trail to another different LD hike/trail typically on named(ABC) known trails. To me it often entails a lack of being responsible for one's own hike, the other side of HYOH(hike your own hike) that is often ignored.


    Welcome to WB.

  7. #7
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    Dogwood is right on with all that.

    First. Are you talking about starting the hike THIS year??

    If so the option to start at Campo is no longer within Dogwoods quidelines as the permits are all taken clear till 27 May right now.

    If you are not contemplating this year then ... never mind that.

    BTW what is your in condition daily miles in average terrain?

    If you can arrive at Campo capable of doing 20 mpd in medium heat (US definition not UK definition) then I agree with Dogwood that the ideal option is to start no earlier than about 10 May. If you can do the 20 mpd then water issues will all be manageable. There are some fairly long hauls between water for everyone but only a couple of places where there can be really big hauls. But they are doable for anyone who can hike reasonable speed and who adapts their hiking to the conditions and specific situation.

    Even leaving as late as the above date there will be 50 people scheduled to start that day and the days before and for days after. But the trail is not as packed as it sounds. When I left May 9 it was the same for me but I only saw a group of about 15 people at the start and then I took off. I saw about 7 other hikers during the day before I cruised into Lake Morena at mile 20. A lot of people camped there but you do not have to. There are untold numbers of single spots right outside of town and the whole trail is like that pretty much. You almost never HAVE to camp by others if you don't want to. At the water holes and at resupply towns there are usually a fair number of folks but you get your stuff and move along and you don't really notice it that much.

    You can be pretty much as solitary as you want to be. No one is going to bother you if you are not into socializing. There is no way to hike the trail and not see a fair number of people every day. Huge numbers of people also day hike it and go on section hikes during the season so there are probably a good 20-30 thousand hikers on the PCT somewhere each year.

    It sounds like you have 5 months for your first year. If you can do the 20mpd and can start circa 10 May you can do the entire trail that season most likely. Take your second year and do the CDT

  8. #8
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    Here would be my 2-yr plan to avoid people & snow:

    Year 1: Chester to Campo starting late August. Want to reach Kennedy Meadows (~650 miles) before October

    Year 2: Cascade Locks to Canada starting mid July, then flip to Chester and hike back to Cascade Locks. Start later if it's a heavy snow year up north.

    Of course all depends on what kind of mileage you're prepared to hike.

    For avoiding people, best to avoid the herd altogether. But if you are going to hit the herd, better to hike with it than against it. Anyone who has plowed through the herd going southbound can tell you about meeting dozens of hikers day after day, most of whom are complaining that they aren't seeing anyone else on the trail.

  9. #9
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    Many thanks again Dogwood

    It's real privilege chatting to people who know the ropes.

    There are so many options to consider when you're open to be flexible, so this is blowing my mind just now!

    I've spent many years in Oz where I have worked and walked in extreme heat (40+ Celcius) and have enjoyed resting, say, from 11am - 3pm. However, I've been back in the UK now for a long time and am not acclimatised.

    I wouldn't start the walk if I were not in peak condition, but even so, at 53, I have to be careful and perhaps start slowly.

  10. #10
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    Good on ya Wyoming - thanks for all this positive feedback - You've made me realise I'm perhaps being a bit risk averse!
    Dogwood is right on with all that.

    First. Are you talking about starting the hike THIS year??

    If so the option to start at Campo is no longer within Dogwoods quidelines as the permits are all taken clear till 27 May right now.

    If you are not contemplating this year then ... never mind that.

    No - don't worry - 2019/2020

    BTW what is your in condition daily miles in average terrain?

    Good question - but tricky to answer as I have to build up my strength by then - but I have managed 20 miles pd in the past quite easily (when I was quite a lot younger)


    If you can arrive at Campo capable of doing 20 mpd in medium heat (US definition not UK definition) then I agree with Dogwood that the ideal option is to start no earlier than about 10 May. If you can do the 20 mpd then water issues will all be manageable. There are some fairly long hauls between water for everyone but only a couple of places where there can be really big hauls. But they are doable for anyone who can hike reasonable speed and who adapts their hiking to the conditions and specific situation.

    Cool - I've noticed that the capacity to walk 20 miles pd also fits well with the more secure water points.

    Even leaving as late as the above date there will be 50 people scheduled to start that day and the days before and for days after. But the trail is not as packed as it sounds. When I left May 9 it was the same for me but I only saw a group of about 15 people at the start and then I took off. I saw about 7 other hikers during the day before I cruised into Lake Morena at mile 20. A lot of people camped there but you do not have to. There are untold numbers of single spots right outside of town and the whole trail is like that pretty much. You almost never HAVE to camp by others if you don't want to. At the water holes and at resupply towns there are usually a fair number of folks but you get your stuff and move along and you don't really notice it that much.

    Thanks - I had visions of rowdy campsites where I couldn't get much shut eye - this makes me less scared about crowds

    You can be pretty much as solitary as you want to be. No one is going to bother you if you are not into socializing. There is no way to hike the trail and not see a fair number of people every day. Huge numbers of people also day hike it and go on section hikes during the season so there are probably a good 20-30 thousand hikers on the PCT somewhere each year.

    Great - love chatting/meeting new people - just as long as I feel at one with nature

    It sounds like you have 5 months for your first year. If you can do the 20mpd and can start circa 10 May you can do the entire trail that season most likely. Take your second year and do the CDT

    You've made me reconsider doing it all in one year (I actually have 5.5) and just saving al these musings for a back up plan.

    Thanks!

  11. #11
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    Love it Rompel

    This is quickly becoming my favourite option.

    The best strategies are often the most simple - I notice that Chester is roughly the midway point.

    I may also have to leave Chester a bit earlier than you suggest to find my legs - what's the walk like around there?

    Plus, I'll also have to consider how the USA authorities may react to me leaving the country one week and returning the next (when I've finished the walk and am flipping back to Chester).

    Finally, water availability in SoCa worries me a bit but have found some archived PCT Water Reports that seem relatively positive for this period.

    Again, like everyone who has contributed, big thanks.


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  12. #12
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    LOL. What seems simple is relative. There is some complexity in getting from the UK to Chester CA, where the PCT crosses Hwy 36, from the UK to Cascade Locks OR/WA border, from Canada back to Chester(don't have any idea if that involves any additional Visa or entry/exit/re-entry complications but would assume it does!), and from Cascade Locks assuming back to the UK compared to living in Susanville CA USA a mere 40 miles from Chester CA as Rompel has represented.


    If I'm recalling correctly Rompel has posted some great public transportation info options regarding getting to/leaving off the PCT around Chester so if his itinerary is opted for he may be one to ping for this info. I can contact you with a couple of PCT hiker friendly Chester area trail angels and businesses including those offering shuttles, accommodations, etc that can help.


    BTW, Steve, although I don't personally have their contact info, I know of several from the UK who have completed the PCT as both thru-hikers and LASHers(long arse section hikers) over 2-3 yrs. Maybe, there are some hiking UK sites you could reach out to these folks? And, for sure you should contact the PCTA(Pacific Crest Trail Association) for advise and possibly contacting those from the UK who have hiked the PCT. The PCT is very much an internationally recognized trail with international hikers sectioning and thru-hiking it every yr.

  13. #13
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    Thanks guys

    Really appreciated - I will get in touch closer to the time Dogwood/Rompel.

    All the best for now...

    Snowing outside right now - so much for avoiding it!

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