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  1. #1
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    Default Questions for PCT-Oregon trip this Summer

    I'm starting to plan a northbound PCT-Oregon hike around July next year (about 5 weeks available).I have section hiked the AT doing multi week trips when I lived on the east coast. I moved to Portland Oregon almost two years ago, and this will be my first chance to do more than a weekend out west, so I'm excited to hike my new home state and have a few questions.

    Starting location?
    The closest access to the border is NF2025 on the Oregon side (about half a mile north of the border). I could walk south a few minutes to the border and then head north. This would be my preference, but I wanted to know about the road quality leading to the trailhead. My wife will be dropping me off and have to drive back to paved roads. We will be in a four wheel drive car, but she doesn't care for rough driving on poorly maintained unpaved roads. How long is the unpaved section to the trailhead and how good is the road quality? If NF2025 is difficult, the closest named road in the databook on the California side is 40S01 (about 5 miles south of border). Is it any better? If both are difficult drives, I will start in Seiad Valley and just do a couple days of CA before hitting the border.

    Cell phone coverage?
    I will need to check in with home every day or two, is this practical with a cellphone on the Oregon-PCT (I have Verizon service)? If not, I was thinking of getting a Garmin Inreach Explorer. I have resisted adding the weight previously, but if it gives my family peace of mind, it will be worth it.

    Resupply?
    I never bothered with maildrops or a bounce box on the AT, but the PCT databook and other information I've reviewed so far make me think that resupply options are more limited on the PCT. Assuming I don't want to carry more than 5 days (~100 miles) of food, are the food options at the stores along the trail adequate? How about canister fuel? I'm hoping to stick with resupply options within two miles of the trail and avoid hitching if possible.

    Other gear?
    I plan on using basically, the same gear that worked for me on the AT. The reading I've noticed suggesting different gear related to the high mountains and desert. Since I'm just doing Oregon in July, that shouldn't be a factor. I will still see some snow, but don't expect to need microspikes or crampons (although I own both). I have a bear canister, but would prefer avoiding the extra weight. I could get an Ursack as a mid-weight option, but I expect that bear bagging a normal stuff sack would be sufficient. Is that reasonable? I plan on carrying the data book Oregon section and have guthook's app on my phone. I rarely felt the need for actual maps on the AT (just the AWOL guide or similar), but the info I read suggest maps are more likely to be needed on PCT.
    Any other changes to consider?

    Thanks in advance for any helpful advice.

  2. #2
    imscotty's Avatar
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    OgreJon,

    I've been having a great time section hiking the PCT the past three years (750 miles done). Can I suggest you consider a different section than Oregon for this year?

    As you know Oregon was devastated by fires last year and many areas of the PCT were closed. Here is the PCTA closure list....

    https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-tr...-and-closures/

    Undoubtably many of these closures will open by July, but some may not. It could be frustrating to have to hitch around long closure areas. One of the great things about section hiking is you can pick the best time to do each section. Perhaps a section in Northern California, or would be a better choice for a five week hike.

    Or perhaps this is really an opportunity. If your wife can come and pick you up to drive you around the closed areas, perhaps it could make for some together time. You are always close enough to fill in some of the gaps as they open up in later years.

    Either way, have fun.
    “For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
    the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


    John Greenleaf Whittier

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the info. I still would like to do Oregon, but I will watch the closures and trail conditions as it gets closer and consider alternate sections. I do like the idea of starting in California and walking "home". I suppose I could also work up a plan for starting in Canada and walking "home" or pick a section in California as you suggest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OgreJon View Post
    . . .I'm hoping to stick with resupply options within two miles of the trail and avoid hitching if possible. . .
    Good luck with that. By resupplying at tiny convenience stores, gift shops, and/or gas stations and shipping yourself boxes where needed you might pull it off.
    But then, there are places where it is probably well worth resupplying further from the trail than 2 miles just because the options are so, so much better, for example, Sisters . . . actually, the HW 242 crossing (where there is absolutely NOTHING) leading to resupply in Sisters (15 miles away) may be the only place. Of course, if you send a box to Big Lake Youth Camp further up the trail near the HW 20 crossing at Santiam Pass, you could probably even, sadly, bypass Sisters.

    You can always resupply less often and carry a couple weeks of food with you to avoid resupply points that don' t meet your criteria.

    The previous poster has a point regarding fire closures. I'd be tempted to do Washington instead of Oregon this next year. But then, I grew up hiking the Oregon Cascades, so Washington section is more appealing to me at this point in my life.

    Have fun!
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

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    I can't imagine doing OR section of PCT without mail drops. There are many small fishing camps/"resorts" that will hold them for you. They also sell some supplies mostly geared towards car campers & people renting their cabins.

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    I'm not very familiar with the PCT, that is why I'm asking. On the AT, all my criteria would be very reasonable, but aside from a few day hikes on or crossing the PCT, I'm just learning now.

    My first thought for resupply is (mile designations from PCT data Book 2017):OR/CA border (at about mile 1698.1 - depending on start road as mentioned above) - Start Hike Callahan's (at mile 1724.7) - Been to Ashland recently, so I don't plan on heading in to town.Fish Lake Resort (at mile 1781.0) Crater Lake - Mazama Village (at mile 1829.0) - My wife and I will visit CL on the way down, so I will just pass throughShelter Cove Resort (at mile 1915.1)Elk Lake Resort (at mile 1962.1)Big Lake Youth Camp (at mile 2004.6)Olallie Lake (at mile 2055.3)Timberline Lodge (at mile 2107.1)Cascade Locks (at mile 2157.7) - End of hike

    It looks possible, but some of these places are very small, so I expect to send boxes. I have no problem with hitching into towns, I did this many times on the AT and picked up some hikers when I was out for day/weekend hikes while living near the AT, but it makes my wife nervous, so I just wanted to understand if it was reasonable.

    I may try and go into Sisters, since I have never been there yet. I have friends in Bend, so I may hook up with them if it works out, but too early to know if that will work.

    I will try and spend some time going over a WA section and see if that will work out any better.

    Thanks.

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    I would send maildrops. The stores at the campground/resorts are very small, with limited options, and very expensive.

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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Some of those lakeside Lodge/Resorts/Cabin places sound like a perfect place for your family to meet you and bring you some groceries.
    NOBO HOBOS 2017 PCT blog will give you a feel for how one couple managed Oregon. Not a step by step schedule, but you can read between the lines.
    Wayne

  9. #9
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    I did the Oregon section last year. Started at Callahans and did 4 mail drops. Mazama Village, Shelter Cove Resort, Sisters, and Timberline Lodge. You probably could resupply in the little resort stores but just seemed easier on this trip to do mail drops. First time I've used them this extensively and they have some merit.
    Lonehiker

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    Quote Originally Posted by OgreJon View Post
    I may try and go into Sisters, since I have never been there yet. I have friends in Bend, so I may hook up with them if it works out, but too early to know if that will work.
    .
    For now at least, Three Sisters is closed...

    https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-tr...rs-fires-2017/
    “For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
    the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


    John Greenleaf Whittier

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    Hello,

    just think twice if July is right time to be hiking Oregon during July. I have hiked PCT last year.. and was TOTAL hell with moskitos there :-)

    There was no problem with resupplying on the way - just hitch to the town, maybe good idea to mail to Shelter Cove and Timberline to save money (we were lucky with hiker boxes too :-) ).

    You will not be able to use phone everyday, but it is still good (we had AT&T).

    If you want to see stores and the trail in general, you are able to watch it in our videos:
    https://youtube.com/channel/UCNx-M8DNWWSkvmPKt2v9uxg

    I'm sorry for my bad English :-)

    Lipton

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    Bring bug juice and extra water holding capacity or be prepared for more descending and ascending to get H2O or do lower elev alternates. That's allowed on the PCT.

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    I've always found it any easy hitch into and oUT of Bend. It's one of those.great oudoorsy fitness cities. Bend has held the record a few times for having the greatest number of Olympians

  14. #14
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    Thanks to the folks that have provided information. I've also been reviewing a bunch of trail journals at postholer and there is a lot of good info there as well.

    I will have from July 1st until August 5th available. That should be plenty of time for the Oregon PCT.
    I am concerned about insects in that time frame, but I think it should be manageable with insect repellent and possibly a head net. I will try to get a sense of the conditions this summer as it approaches.

    I generally hike with two liter bottles in my pack side pockets and a two liter platypus reservoir that I keep in my pack and fill when it looks like it is needed. So if water is difficult to find, I would leave a water site with 4 liters. From my reading so far, that sounds sufficient.

    I will watch the PCTA website for updates on the closure around Sisters. I'm hoping it is open when I would get there in mid-July, but really have no basis to judge the chances of that for now. Time will tell. Even if it is still closed, I would probably still stick to hiking Oregon, just skip around it. I live close enough to make up the ~30 miles over a long weekend some other time.

    I expect that hitching in the Bend/Sisters area would be reasonable, but it makes my Wife nervous, so I will try to avoid it. I do have friends in Bend that may be able to meet me and we can grab a meal or I can spend a night in town with them, and then they can drop me back where they picked me up (or on the other side of a closure). If my Wife really doesn't want me to hitch, she can drive down and take me around if my friends are not available when I get there.

    I've been convinced that I will need a couple of mail drops, I appreciate the feedback on the resupply options.

    Does anyone have first hand knowledge of the drive to the PCT crossing on NF2025? I have the directions, but would like to understand the road conditions. How much time is spent on unpaved roads and how good is the road surface?

    Thanks.


  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    I did the Oregon section last year. Started at Callahans and did 4 mail drops. Mazama Village, Shelter Cove Resort, Sisters, and Timberline Lodge. You probably could resupply in the little resort stores but just seemed easier on this trip to do mail drops. First time I've used them this extensively and they have some merit.

    Good resupply itinerary especially if desiring to avoid hitching.


    It's not just what gear to carry but if and how you use it...umm, ice axe, compass&maps, etc. If you have the OR data book and/or rockin" Guthooks PCT stuff you're good to go following the PCT IF you're following along in the Data book and apps. Notice I said following the PCT! The OR PCT has alternates and side hikes especially important to note if you're taking advantage of resupply at the Fish camps/resorts, seeking out the least elev change and distance from water locations, consider a lower elev alternate(such as a portion of the now defunct Oregon Trail), ned an emergency exit, etc. Opps to view IN DETAIL the larger pic than just the PCT is helpful in this case. Not every PCTer does the same cookie cutter type hike.

  16. #16
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    Just wanted to follow up and provide my take on some of the questions I asked now that I have done the hike. This may help folks that search here with similar questions.
    I started July 1st at the Donomore Cabin just on the CA side of the border. Google maps had the directions to it via the forest service roads (just type in Donomore Cabin as the destination and be sure to have downloaded the relevant offline maps). The way google routed us, it was about 18 miles of dirt roads after leaving the pavement. My wife did not appreciate that for the ride back to Ashland after dropping me off, but it worked. The road was reasonable in the dry weather, it might have been more of a hassle if there had been recent rain. Talking to folks that got dropped off on the OR side of the border at NF2025 made it sound like it was a similar ride with about the same number of miles on non-paved roads. Perhaps there are better routes to minimize this, but I don't know the area well enough to say.

    I made it to Callahans on 7/2 and was well past there when I heard the reports of fires in the CA border to Callahans area. I did feel a bit of smoke in the air, but not too bad where I was.
    The folks mentioning Mosquitoes were accurate, they were bad starting a couple days after Callahans until Sisters. A combo of Permethrin, Deet, a head net, selecting tenting sites with a breeze, and a mosquito proof tent mitigated it, but it was still an annoyance. There were several evenings where everyone just went straight to their tents after a quick dinner instead of enjoying the outdoors.
    There were a few dry areas where I was leaving water sources with 4 or 5 liters to make sure I had enough to make the next reliable source. Often, I could have made do with less, but of course you don't know that until you get to a seasonal source that is still running. A few times, info from a SOBO allowed me to avoid hauling too much water.
    There were several areas where the damage from last year's fires was very significant and meant there was no shade from the sun.
    But there were many highlights. Awesome mountain views, waterfalls (I went off the PCT to see Stuart Falls even though the trail was in poor shape), some nice lakes and resorts. Lots of very nice fellow hikers, local folks, and some trail magic sites. And seeing the Columbia River and the Bridge of the Gods when I finished on 7/28 was great. The Big Lake Youth camp was very hiker friendly with a very nice building set up for hikers with bathroom, showers, laundry, and kitchen.

    In general, I Verizon reception was pretty good, I could usually find a site most days to check in.

    I ended up sending packages to Callahans (to start light), Mazama village (although they had a decent resupply selection), Big Lake Youth Camp (although I ended up going into Sisters for a zero anyway), and Timberline.

    I mostly relied on the guthook app, but had halfmile and others on my phone and occasionally checked them as well.
    I didn't bother with a canister or ursack. I had planned to hang my food from a tree, but there were very few trees with appropriate limbs that would stop a bear from getting it if they tried. I did see a couple of folks rig up lines between a couple of trees, but it seemed like overkill since I did not see any bears or any evidence of bear activity near the trail. I don't know if they are typically rare in the Oregon section or this was due to all the areas that were burned out from last year lowering the amount of food that was attract bears. On the AT, I always worried more about mice and other small creatures getting at my food, but I did not have any issues with that either here.

    All in all, a wonderful experience.
    Happy hiking,
    Jonathan

  17. #17
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    I ended up sending packages to Callahans (to start light), Mazama village (although they had a decent resupply selection), Big Lake Youth Camp (although I ended up going into Sisters for a zero anyway), and Timberline.

    There ya go. I would have considered the same mailed resupply locations and maybe sent one to a Fish Camp. But if you're at Callahans taking the bus that stops right nearby to any of several resupply/grocery store locations(I always liked the Co-Op in Ashland) and you could be in/out by BATW in 3 hrs. As ya said since ya went into Sisters ya could have avoided that mailed resupply too by BATW. Supplementing at fish camps lightens the consumables load further. Great to hear you availed yourself of SOBO's water location advice. PCT alternates to these Fish Camps are well documented on various map sets and in the WP PCT books that help with resupply.


    Thanks for following up Jonathan. It's rare. Glad it went well.

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