PCT 2014-2023

My experiences on the Pacific Crest Trail have changed the course of my life.

I'd been a weekend backpacker for years before I set out for my first long-distance hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in April of 2014.  I hiked from Campo, CA to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite, where I had to get off trail for a stress fracture of my foot.  I spent 10 weeks healing.  When I returned to the trail, I had to hike slow and the other thru hikers were long gone, but I enjoyed every minute and hiked another 560 miles.

In 2016, I returned to Washington and Oregon for a month long, 300 mile section hike through the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Glacier Peak Wilderness, North Cascades National Park, and Mount Hood.

Since then, I returned to the PCT for three more long section hikes, finally completing the entire PCT on July 17, 2023. 

I loved my section hikes and I am grateful that the PCT has been a part of my life for these past 10 years.

    Link to my Instagram photos
    View my Picasa Web Photo album for SoCal sections A, B, and C.
    View my Picasa album for SoCal sections D, E, and F.
    View my Picasa album for the Sierra.
    View my Picasa album for NoCal (post-stress fracture).

Reviews, Reflections, and Gear
    Hammock Gear on the PCT: SoCal and the Sierra - review of my hammock gear
    Hammocking on the PCT: SoCal and the Sierra - techniques and the experience of hammocking
    Clothes Review for the PCT: SoCal and the Sierra -review of clothes, raingear, and sun protection
    Apps for long distance backpacking - on managing finances, files, photos, social networking 
    Gear review for the PCT: pack, hydration, kitchen, electronics, etc.
    Food for the PCT- resupply strategy, menu planning, and favorite meals and snacks  
    Footcare basics for the PCT- treat and prevent foot problems (on the Gossamer Gear blog)
    Reflections on 2014 - Two big lessons of the PCT 
    Review of how I prepared for the PCT- mental and physical preparations and skills 
    How to have a successful hike -letting go of your goals and learning to live in the moment

Before the Hike
     Planning for the PCT in 2014  - announcing my plan to thru hike the PCT
     Shakedown #1: Gear Angst   - gear (and other) insecurities
     PCT Training: Bartram in the Rain  - physical preparations
     Thankful  - getting advice; getting an iphone for the PCT
     PCT Training: Brasstown Bald -  questions about balancing thru hiking with being a naturalist
     PCT Training: More rain  - practicing in the wind and rain
     Hammock on the PCT?- planning my hammock setup and technique for the PCT
     Shakedown #2: Bear Canister and Gear Minutiae- deciding it's all just gear minutiae!
     Packing and Resupply for the PCT- packing up and trying to figure out how to get support
     PCT Training: knee problems and aerial dance- return of old IT band problem, aerial silks show
     PCT Planning: Why? and FAQ- why I am hiking the PCT, how I afford it, how I justify a thru hike
     PCT Prep: Gear List-  13.6 lbs base weight, undecided about clothes & camera
     Snow Skills- learning to use an ice ax, falling in love with hiking in Colorado mountains
     PCT Training: Form and Feet- focusing on my alignment, caring for feet, shoes I love
     PCT Prep: Presentations and Goodbyes- giving a talk for Trail Dames on planning and dreaming
     PCT Prep: Ups downs and on the ground- anxiety, testing my ground setup
     PCT Prep: Last week before leaving- sewing projects, Nature Ramblers, dropping off my car

Southern California (*=favorite posts) (2014)
    Day 1: WOW, Trees and Flowers- first day on the PCT and camping at Hauser Creek
    Day 2: Botany and Boarder Patrol- new-to-us plants, camping at Fred Canyon with Coach & Sally
    Day 3: Mt. Laguna - along green Long Canyon Creek, into town, then camping solo
    Day 4: Windy- gorgeous sunrise, hanging on tiny trees at Chariot Canyon Road
    Day 5: Into Julian- meeting Farwalker and Jordi, first time hitchhiking, free pie
    Bonus PCT Story: Trail Names
    Day 6: Eclipse -going to ground under the full moon
    Day 7: Water
    *Day 8: OMG I'm actually hiking the PCT - seeing Eagle Rock
    Day 9: 10 before 10 - into Tule Springs
    Day 10: Hiking before dawn
    Day 11: Zero in Idyllwild
    Day 12. San Jacintos
    Day 13: 98 degrees - into Ziggy and the Bear's
    Day 14: San Gorgonio Wilderness
    Day 15: What a day! -helicopters are sent for Pathfinder, Halfmile helps me get back to the PCT
    Day 16: Side trails and big trees
    Day 17: Back to Big Bear City
    Day 18: Snow Day
    Day 19: Slackers
    Day 20: To Deep Creek Bridge
    Day 21: Deep Creek Canyon -hot spring and root beer floats
    Day 22: Long day into Cajon Pass
    *Day 23: Climb from Cajon Pass -one of my favorite days on the PCT
    Day 24: Wrightwood -last day with Pathfinder, first time meeting MeToo
    Day 25: Baden-Powell -meeting Coach and Whitewater
    Day 26: Detour
    Day 27: Poodle Dog Bush
    Day 28: Into Agua Dulce
    Day 30: Casa de Luna
    Day 31: Roadwalking
    Day 32: Across the Mojave
    Day 33: Into Tehachapi
    Day 35: Tired
    Day 36: Cheeseburgers and grape soda
    Day 37: The Heat
    Day 39: Slushies
    *Day 41: Into Kennedy Meadows -reflections on the first 700 miles

 The Sierra (*=favorite posts) (2014)
    Day 42: Zero in Kennedy Meadows
    Day 43: Snowing!
    Day 44: Back to Kennedy Meadows
    Day 46: Second start from Kennedy Meadows
    Day 49: Whitney
    Day 50: Waterfalls and alpine lakes
    Day 51: Forester Pass
    Day 53: Glen Pass
    Day 54: Where's the PCT? -over Pinchot Pass
    Day 55: The cold -over Mather Pass
    Day 56: Muir Pass -day I first felt my stress fracture
    Day 57: Seldon Pass
    Day 59: A True Angel -resting at Vermillion Valley Resort
    Day 61: 900 miles! -crossing Goodale Pass
    Day 62: Devils Postpile
    Day 63: Donohue Pass
    Day 64: Zero in Tuolumne Meadows

Off-trail- Stress fracture (*=favorite posts) (2014)
    Foot Injury -getting off the trail due to my foot injury, staying with Arizona's roommate Steph
    Foot Injury- Update -staying busy preparing resupply boxes and settling into off-trail life
    Foot Injury- Update #2 -visiting the PCT and seeing trail friends
    Foot Injury- Update #3
    Foot Injury- Update #4 -the joys of camping
    *Foot Injury- Still living the dream? -lessons I've learned on and off the trail
    Foot Injury- Stillness among the Giants -learning to rest in the redwoods
    *Stress fractures: A guide for backpackers  -coping with injury, physically and mentally healing
    Foot Injury- Out of the boot -loss of flexibility, tightness, weakness
    *Foot Injury- Depressive spirals -the mental challenges of injury 

Back on the PCT after the stress fracture from Ebbetts Pass to Carson Pass (NorCal) (2014)
     Day 138: Back on the PCT -starting back at Ebbetts Pass
     Day 139: The problem of fewer miles - frustration
     Day 140: Enjoying the new rhythm - slowing down and finding balance
     Day 141: Into Carson Pass -successfully completed my first post-injury section

From Sierra City south to Carson Pass (2014)
     Day 147: South from Sierra City -starting my second post-injury section southbound
     Day 148- The right level of tired - listening to my body
     Day 149: Followed -seeing a bobcat
     Day 150: Granite Chief Wilderness
     Day 151: The people that make the difference - meeting volunteers and TRT hikers
     Day 152: Desolation Wilderness -gorgeous lakes
     Day 153: Aloha! -storm clouds make the sunrise
     Day 154: Into Carson Pass (again!) - and thoughts on footware

From Ebbetts Pass south to Tuolumne Meadows (Yosemite) (2014)
     156: South from Ebbetts Pass- into the beautiful Carson-Iceberg Wilderness
     157: Wolf Creek Lake- going the extra mile to chase a beautiful sunrise
     158: Sonora Pass- stressing out about hitchhiking into Kennedy Meadows North to resupply
     *159: Ridgewalk from Sonora Pass- one of the most gorgeous days on the PCT and my fav photos
     160: Quiet in Yosemite- not seeing anyone all day until camp, gorgeous lakes
     161: To Benson Pass- signs of fall in Yosemite, running into Bob again
     162: Near Glen Aulin- watching a frog, meeting northbounders making a film for college
     163: Where are you coming from?- an extra 20 mile loop in Yosemite to alpine lakes
     164: Return to Tuolumne  -reflections on post-stress fracture attitude and style, Yosemite Valley

From Sierra City north to I-5/ Castle Craigs (2014)
     167: North from Sierra City -smoky air, meeting newlyweds
     168: Hunters, loggers, and me-  meeting only hunters and loggers on the PCT this time of year
     169: A Cougar! -my first ever mountain lion sighting
     170: Bucks Lake Wilderness- nearly-hypothermic in cold rain, and seeing tree foam
     171: In and out of Belden- quick resupply stop, then into the Chips Creek area
     173: Finding that spot- passing the PCT half-way point, finding that ideal camping spot
     174: Birthday at Drakesbad -celebrating my birthday in Lassen Nat'l Park (fumeroles!)
     175&6: Drakesbad -two days spent hiking around Lassen with my parents
     177: Lakes in Lassen -taking the Cluter Lakes Alternate to see more lakes
     178: Subway Cave and the Hat Creek Rim -the "hottest place on the PCT" is still hot in October
     179: Over the Hat Creek Rim -coping with the heat and hunters on opening day
     180: Burney Falls -most gorgeous waterfalls I've ever seen
     181: Fall Colors -section O is gorgeous in autumn
     182: To the McCloud River -more heat, still no people
     183: Squaw Valley Creek -lunar eclipse, one last chilly swim
     184: Last day on the PCT -ending at I-5 Castle Craigs (mile 1500!)

Washington Section J (2016)
     Day 1- Back on the PCT- going north from Snoqualime Pass with Jan 
     Day 2- Pika and rainbow mountains- Park Lakes
     Day 3- Nature wondering- Cathedral Pass, blueberries
     Day 4- Leave no trace?- swimming in Deep Lake
     Day 5- Liquid sunshine- a cold swim in Mig Lake in the rain

Washington Section K (2016)
     Day 8- Starting section K
     Day 9- Entering Glacier Peaks Wilderness- pika and Lake Sally Ann 
     Day 10- Sun peaking through holes- over Red Pass
     Day 11- Hardest yet- over Milk Pass, too cold to swim at Mica Lake
     Day 12- First 20 mile day- trees along the Suiattle River
     Day 13- Pika amphitheaters
     Day 14 and 15- Stehekin
     Day 16- Out from Stehekin

Washington Section L (2016)
     Day 17- Rainy Pass
     Day 18- Kindness of strangers

Washington Section I (2016)
     Day 20- Solo sobo- southbound from Snoqualime Pass
     Day 21- Turtle mode- rain
     Day 22- More up and Downs
     Day 23- What is comfort?
     Day 24- Into White Pass
     Day 27- What it can teach us- traveling from Packwood, WA to Cascade Locks, OR

Oregon Section G (2016)
     Day 28- Oregon with Pathfinder- starting southbound from Cascade Locks
     Day 29- Wandering around in the woods
     Day 30- Mount Hood- Ramona Falls alternate and the Sandy River
     Day 31- Timberline Lodge

Oregon Section F (2016)
     Day 32- Little Crater Lake- epic swim!
     Day 33- Birthday on the trail 
     Day 34- Ollalie Lake
     Day 35- When the snow flies

2014 PCT Trail Journals of people I've met on the trail
     Pathfinder on the PCT -Renee/Pathfinder's journal
     Pacific Crest Trail Adventure- Susan/ Rewind's journal
     SlowBro- a fellow hammock hanger on the PCT in 2014
     2 More Miles -Paul and Dee's blog
     Tortuga- Ken hikes to raise money for the Painted Turtle, a camp for kids with medial conditions
     Coach -Chuck writes about interesting topics on the trail
     Kimchi -love her daily self portraits


  1. Joan, I am inspired by your current East Coast ramblings. Wonderful. I just wanted to let you know I plan to post a short version of your October 6 journal entry on 'Fall Colors' . . . I so enjoyed an early season walk of Section O that I wrote a piece on the experience lobbying for 'welcoming it back into the fold'. It is an unfairly judged stretch of the PCT. I loved your photos!

    1. Hi Rees, That's wonderful that you will include some of the story about Section O in the Trailside Reader. Thank you! Wonderful to hear you enjoyed Section O as well. Hope you can help restore Section O's image. All the best, Joan

  2. My 18-year-old son and a friend were originally going to spend the spring of their gap year hiking the PCT, but have shifted their focus to the Arizona Trail instead, concerned that the PCT may be too crowded for their taste. They are both experienced hikers, but have never done more than a week at a time, and I'm concerned about water availability on the Arizona Trail. Any advice for a worried dad? Thanks.

    1. The Arizona Trail is a wonderful choice for experienced hikers. It's tough being a worried parent though. How are their navigation skills? Have they hiked in areas where they had to manage their water? If they aren't leaving until next spring, they have plenty of time to practice navigation and water management, and become familiar with how to plan for water on the Arizona Trail.

      There are plenty of great resources on the Arizona Trail Association website-- definitely worth it to become a member! And feel free to have them contact me if they have any questions-- I might be able to help or pass you along to friends who can.