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#191629 - 08/14/15 07:09 PM Easiest section PCT?
alph2294 Offline

Registered: 08/14/15
Posts: 30
Loc: NorCal
Hello to all. What a great forum!

Here's my question: I have experience day hiking in CA and US/Canadian Rockies and lots of camping but no thru-hiking. I am itching to do some of the PCT and wondered where people would send me to get an auspicious and not too painful beginning. I've heard Oregon is the way to go, but something in Northern CA would be more convenient for me.

Also, how would you recommend I spend my limited budget for ultralight equipment? Tent first? Pack? Boots?

Thanks for the help.

#191630 - 08/15/15 12:39 PM Re: Easiest section PCT? [Re: alph2294]
BrianLe Offline

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
I suggest that you download the PCT maps for northern CA from Halfmile's site.
Look at the last page or two for each section's pdf file --- at the elevation profiles. That will give you a good read on one of the elements of what makes a trail easier or harder. Then among those that look easier, consider also your logistics of getting to and from the trail, and also think of water sources and possibly bail-out points (places that significant roads cross the trail or where a side trail can get to a reasonably well-trafficked road).

If you were looking to hike several hundred miles in one go, I would indeed suggest Oregon as a great option. For doing a first section, I agree with you that "closer to home" makes a lot of sense.

Limited budget for lighter gear --- I think that PMags has a good summary of a lot of discussion by various folks over the years:

Lightening up is approached in different ways; go lighter on the big stuff ("big three": tent, sleeping bag, backpack), go lighter on the other stuff, and --- importantly --- carry less of the stuff you don't really need in the first place. Going lighter means not just lighter weight gear, but sometimes a shift in hiking "style". It's a potentially lengthy topic, and one about which almost everyone has an opinion (and typically is happy to share it). The one thing I feel strongly about is that there isn't a single "correct" way.

Boots vs. shoes is a whole other discussion, and another one that many people are passionate about. I'm a shoe guy, but again, I'm also a "find your own way and your own personal wisdom" guy.

Best of luck!

Edited by BrianLe (08/15/15 12:40 PM)
Brian Lewis

#191631 - 08/15/15 01:53 PM Re: Easiest section PCT? [Re: BrianLe]
aimless Online   content

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 3291
Loc: Portland, OR
It should be noted that the hiking style that is most widely adopted by thru-hikers, who must emphasize making their miles above all else, and who generally start the trail only after many months of pre-conditioning exercise, may not be the hiking style required for a successful section hike.

Section hikers can choose the best days of the year for more water availability, fewer bugs and better weather. They can get away with a slightly more leisurely pace and somewhat fewer daily miles, and may be able to adopt a resupply strategy that doesn't scale up to a thru-hike's length, but works out fine when you are only hiking 150 miles or so.

Oregon is indeed the most popular part of the PCT for easier section hiking. Ashland to Cascade Locks (either nobo or sobo) is extremely popular, but it's about 400 miles and may be more than you're looking for as a start.

Without a lot more information about what you already have in the way of gear, making specific recommendations on how to upgrade it on a limited budget is too much like shooting in the dark. Weighing all the minutiae of gear selection isn't exactly a deep subject, but it is a very broad one. grin


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