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Pacific Crest Trail Gearlist

Five years ago, I started hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. My friend Jenna came to see me off.
Five years ago, I started hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. My friend Jenna came to see me off.

This weekend marked the 5 year anniversary of my PCT thru-hike. Although I’ve been back there and have about half the PCT miles done as section hikes since then, nothing quite beats the trepidation, excitement, and the unknown of the first time. In honor of that day, I’m posting my gearlist from 2009. Surprisingly, I would change very few things. Since this gear is old, this would also make a fantastic discount ultralight gear list–many things on this list are older models, but still work great. Hope you enjoy this ArcBlast from the past!

Packing

ItemBrandModelWeight (oz)General Notes
backpackGossamer GearG57.8Carried from Sierra to the end, really torn up at the end, hydration pocket and side pockets are nice design, cuben fiber hot on back
pack linerHeftyTrash Compactor Bag (white)2Sent myself a new one in mail drop resupply boxes every 500 miles
Subtotal9.8

The G5 already had a PCT thru-hike on it and after another hiker improperly handled it, developed a tear. I switched out to the Z-packs Arcblast and carried that from Kennedy Meadows until the end.

Sleeping

ItemBrandModelWeight (oz)General Notes
down sleeping bagWestern MountaineeringUltralite Mummy Bag (20 degree)29I love this bag. It was a bit hot for a week in NorCal only
BivyMountain Laurel DesignsEarly version of the Superlite Bivyuperlite Bivy7Worked well for bugs. Most nights on the PCT, cowboy camped with the bivy and didn't use the shelter. Useful for hot days when the sleeping bag was too hot, too!
sleeping padGossamer GearGossamer Gear5Was enough insulation for the PCT.
Subtotal41
Pack explosion in Southern California
Pack explosion in Southern California

Shelter

ItemBrandModelWeightGeneral Notes
tarp / ponchoSix Moon DesignsGatewood CapeGatewood Cape11Used it maybe 7 nights the whole trip. Not advisable for 2 people.
stakesMountain Laurel Designs6 x Titanium & 4 x one gram stakes1.7
guylinesBackpacking LightAirCore NANO Dyneema Cord Kit0.8
mini-biners for linesMountain Laurel Designs8 x Superfly min biners1
Subtotal14.6
The top of Forester Pass, the highest point on the PCT
The top of Forester Pass, the highest point on the PCT

Food / Hydration

ItemBrandModelWeightGeneral Notes
food bagMountain Laurel DesignSpectralite 1500 cL0.39
Daily snack bagZiploclarge freezer bag0.1
trash ZiplocZiploclarge freezer bag0.1
Bags that hold dinner and snacksZiplocQuart size0.15
eating utensilLight My Fire Titanium Spork0.4
Rehydration ContainerPlastic frosting container with screw on cap Used for rehydrating food. Doesn't take long to rehydrate food in the desert--very long in the Sierra. Beware exploding pea soup.
Hydration bagPlatypusPlatypus 2.0 Hoser Hydration system4
Water treatmentAqua MiraChlorine Dioxide Water Purification Treatment Drops3Not sold in Cali. Buy in bulk and stick in bounce box
Subtotal8.14
Wearing the Gatewood Cape as raingear on my last day on the PCT
Wearing the Gatewood Cape as raingear on my last day on the PCT

First Aid / Toiletries

ItemBrandModelWeightGeneral Notes
anti-inflammatoriesIbuprofen 200mg x 10 (in Ziploc)0.1
sunscreen for hands, facehigh SPF1Buy small bottles in bulk and send in mail drops
hygienePurellMini Purell handsanitizer .5 oz container0.5Buy in bulk and send in mail drops
toothbrushbroken in half0.2
toothpaste / soapDr. Bronner's Small dropper bottle filled with a little Dr. B0.2If you can get used to the different taste, it is multiuse!
anti-diarrheageneric x 6 (in Ziploc w/other pills)0.05
Subtotal2.35
Muir Hut on top of Muir Pass.
Muir Hut on top of Muir Pass.

Miscellaneous

ItemBrandModelWeightGeneral Notes
walletALL-ETTJunior Billfold0.1
cards & cashdriver's license, debit card, cash (passport for Canada)0.3
Cell phone and charger2.7Verizon probably has better coverage. I had AT&T and was fine in most places, though.
LED headlampPetzlTikka XP3.1Easy to nighthike on the PCT (minus bears and rattlers), nice to have for that
Mp3 playerRCA Lyra mp3 player (including 1 AAA battery)2I carried an ipod nano with a solar panel until Tahoe, but it didn't work well and destoryed my ipod. The lyra (a model which isn't sold anymore that runs on batteries) is a great thru-hiking mp3 player
extra lithium batteriesfor mp3 player and headlamp2I became enamored with lithiums on the CDT. They cost more, but weigh a lot less and last longer.
cameraNikonNikon Coolpix4It was light and cheap and survived the trail despite rain and sand. Could've taken better photos, but not for the price.
resupply Listnumbered reference list of items to be mailed to me0.1
Subtotal14.3
Oregon Washington highpoint
Oregon Washington highpoint

Navigation

ItemBrandModelWeightSierra or desert extra weightGeneral Notes
Guidebook bagZiploclarge freezer bag0.2
Yogi's PCT Handbookuse margins for journal 5A must.
journalBicpen (use guidebook for journal & phonecard info)0.1
Subtotal5.3
Resupply boxes in Etna, CA
Resupply boxes in Etna, CA

Extra Clothing

ItemBrandModelWeightGeneral Notes
wind shirtPatagoniaHoudini Windshirt3Carried this jacket for the whole Triple Crown. The new model is slightly heavier.
raingearGatewood capeponcho (see Shelter)0A bit billowy, but given that it barely rains on the PCT, worth the weight and cost.
Long sleeve shirtSmartwoolMicroweight Longsleeve Crew4Great warmth to weight ratio, but could last longer
Warm head layerBuffNational Geographic Buff1.5Essential for keeping neck and face warm in addition to head.
tights NikeNike Fit tights7Wore from Kennedy Meadows north. I was very happy to have something cover my legs in the Sierra, though if I were to it again, would probably choose something lighter. The spandex stretchiness was nice, though
socks wornSmartwoolpHd ultralight merino running sock1Nice to have extra socks in the Sierra
puffy jacketWestern MountaineeringFlash Jacket8Wore from Kennedy Meadows north
Subtotal3
The LT3 poles in the desert. My favorite photo from the whole trail.
The LT3 poles in the desert. My favorite photo from the whole trail.

Items Worn / Carried

ItemBrandModelWeightGeneral Notes
primary torso base layerREItank top0.7
shortsRoyal RobbinsWomen's backcountry shorts5Stylish and fit well
hat with full coverageExOfficioBugs Away Mesh Cape Hat3Kept away bugs, kept away the sun, stayed on my head in the wind.
sunglassesGas station2I lost my sunglasses many times
socks wornSmartwoolRun Ultralight Micro PhD1Great warmth to weight ratio. Didn't smell. Could have lasted longer.
shoesSalomonTrail Runner XA Pro3d shoes16Great grip in the Sierra.
watchTimexIronman2Useful for planning the day
underwearEx OfficioGive N Go Bikini Briefs2
hiking poles Gossamer GearLightTrek 3s (2 of them)Carried Idyllwild to Etna. Also held up the shelter.
Subtotal37.7
Tunnel Falls up the Eagle Creek Trail
Tunnel Falls up the Eagle Creek Trail

Totals

Pounds     
Base weight8.2EXTRA SIERRA OR DESERT WEIGHT67.5
Worn or carried4.9
Skin-Out13.1

Wet ending to a dry trail

A wet finish to a grand hike
A wet finish to a grand hike

We ditched out resupply box in Stehekin instead opting to have the food of our last three days of trail be almost entirely Stehekin bakery pasteries. I have never had a cinnamon roll that good, and the day olds from the bakery were still better than any other baked good I’ve had in my life.

 

My last few days on trail in North Cascades National Park were very cold. I had to keep walking to stay warm. Ultimately, we camped on the top of Glacier Pass under some thick trees to prevent the rain. It was very dark, misty, wet, dreary, and lonely. We saw no other hikers. On the last night, just seven miles from the border, I hiked late past dark because I couldn’t find a flat campsite. Still making mistakes this late in the game.

 

This was the most visibility I had
This was the most visibility I had

When I woke up, there were feathers everywhere. Did a marmot get into my beloved Western Mountaineering sleeping bag? Still not sure what happened, but my sleeping bag footbox had a huge rip in it. Lucky this was my last night on trail!

 

It was still freezing cold at the monument. (Later, I learned that the monument opens up and has a register. When Pi, Lint, and Miss Info got to the register a few days later, they were worried I hadn’t finished. I told them: “I was too cold to even think about sticking around there long enough to open it up!”) The last 7 miles of trail that led to civilization became narrower and muddier. At Manning Provincial Park’s restaurant, we saw Yas, who came in several housr after us and got snowed on! All in all, quite a relieving finish, although I wish I could stay on the trail indefinitely rather than go back to school…Well, school: the next adventure!

Wildfire, blownout bridges, and beauty

Nearing the end of the journey, I can honestly say things have been getting more exciting. This part of the PCT dates back to the 1930s, the trail design resembles another trail built in the 1930s..the Applachain Trail. It’s a lot of up and down, but over some beautiful passes. I can’t help but think that these passes must be a little bit more gnarly for the Southbounders.

Smells like a forest burning down
Smells like a forest burning down

 

 

Right after Snoqualmie Pass, the trail dipped into a new valley and was incredibly smoky. It was hard to breathe and I put my bandanna over my mouth to do so. A couple of southbounders came through, bug-eyed and totally whigging. “The whole forest is on fire. Going through that was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” the one guy told us. “There is a ranger down there who will escort you through. But they say you’ll be the last ones.”

 

Don’t go there!
Don’t go there!

We booked it down there and got to a section of trail that was blocked off with yellow tape and a sign saying a ranger will come shortly to guide us through. We waited for 20 minutes near the side of the trail, until a 50 feet burning tree within 30 feet of us came crashing down. The ranger (a woman!) finally came and escorted us to a detour. Apparently, a lightening spark created the fire on the PCT, so the trail got rerouted. But then the fire spread to the reroute! So, now the ranger was re-rerouting us from the re-route. We made it out alive, but what an adventure!

 

A sunny day in Washington can be better than a normal day in California
A sunny day in Washington can be better than a normal day in California

After Skykomish, there is a section of the PCT through the Glacier Peak Wilderness destroyed in a 2003 landslide. There are many fords without bridges. There is an alternate route, but apparently it is long, less scenic, and with lots of elevation change. We opted for the old route and were ready to battle blowdowns. The most exciting part of the this section was where I had to hold onto a branch and swing, Tarzan style, over a section of the trail that had washed away to big fall away cliff. The blowdowns in this section were numerous and striking. These old growth logs which lie across the trail at heights taller than me that required rock climbing on wet bark skills to get over (or going around). It will almost be a shame when this part of the trail is cleaned up, such gentle giants these are.

Huckleberry Hysteria

Some say this is the scariest part of the PCT…
Some say this is the scariest part of the PCT…

Greetings from Snoqualmie Pass, Washington, 2400 miles into the Pacific Crest Trail!

 

We’ve had great weather in Washington so far and the huckleberries have been abundant.  It is hard to hike as the trail is a path through waist-high huckleberry bushes, meaning that, of course, I have to stop to munch!

Pi and SF are happier than a bear
Pi and SF are happier than a bear

The trail recently crossed a glacier and the views of Mt. Rainier and other glacier-covered peaks have been unreal.  Wildflowers are in bloom, hiking friends have been abundant, and times have been great. Goat Rocks Wilderness with Pi and Lint was among the most beautiful sections of the trail. We saw Super Dave again..building a fire like he did every night!

 

 

I’ve had the joy of hiking with Pi, Lint, and Gantz and we’re all enjoying bacon waffles here at the Snoqualmie Inn. It will be hard to leave the PCT, but I’ll make the last of these 10 days and prepare for my next adventure: School!

Mt Hood 55 mile challenge

As you can tell, I am super stoked for the big miles tomorrow.
As you can tell, I am super stoked for the big miles tomorrow.

Right before Mt. Hood, 7 thru-hikers including myself completed a 55 mile day into Timberline Lodge. We all camped together, disposing (eating) unwanted food (you don’t want to carry extra weight in your pack) and prepping ourselves for the big day. Setting our alarms for 3 am, we set off in the dark, only to get rained on an hour into the journey. The rain stopped, as it became light, those who camped near the trail cheered us on asking as we speed-walked by: “Are you part of this crazy double marathon group?”

Can’t gain without a little blister
Can’t gain without a little blister

Not that it was a race or anything, but I pulled in at the head of the pack, and passed a guy not in our group who was doing 50 miles into Timberline. We finished before 6 pm, and were able to grab a warm meal and share a room with all the triumphant victors.

 

The incredible, edible Oregon

The red lava path in the sea of lava
The red lava path in the sea of lava

The California lands around the CA-OR border were especially hot and rough, but it seemed like as soon as we passed the border, water became abundant again, snakes and bears disappeared, and everything became wonderful (Update: after completing Oregon, I can frankly say that no bear droppings or snakes were seen in the entire state…’course once we crossed the OR-WA border, the bear scat started appearing again).  Kind locals left sodas along the trail for us near Ashland, and we had a relaxing stay for a day with my best friend’s family in Ashland.

 

Beautiful walking with lots of views
Beautiful walking with lots of views

OR was incredible.  It was quick miles, easy walking, and great views.  The skies would open for thundershowers and a bit of rain almost everyday—for a while, quite a welcome break from the scorching heat of Northern California.  The trail brought us to Crater Lake, and the all you can eat buffet within the park borders!  We picked up some new hiking friends, Miss Information and Pi, in mid-Oregon.

The weather turned rough for a day and near hypothermia brought the four of us to Bend, OR for a day of relaxation.  Pi, and I attempted to eat the Ben and Jerry’s Vermonster (a sundae served in a large bucket), but even hungry hikers were unable to conquer the beast.  I blame a hearty brunch consumed right before the Vermonster for my failure.

My eyes glaze over from sugar comatose.
My eyes glaze over from sugar comatose.

Miss Info’s mom met as at road crossings to take us into town or bring us food, and a kind retired man who lives in Bend also provides hikers with shuttling services while in Oregon. We crossed lava fields from old volcanoes and got to sleep in a lava castle for a night!  Restaurants and town food almost everyday made Oregon quite a thru-hikers treat.

Excited not for the high point, but the discovery of famous hiker Billy Goat’s pack left on the trail
Excited not for the high point, but the discovery of famous hiker Billy Goat’s pack left on the trail

Snakes, Bears, and Lava, oh my!

Turns out I’m not hiking the PCT. I’m hiking the Mt. Shasta Trail!
Turns out I’m not hiking the PCT. I’m hiking the Mt. Shasta Trail!

Writing from Old Station, California, near Lassen National Park. Northern Cali is hot and dry like the desert again—but with more trees

In the infamous Section O near Redding, California, we encountered the hardest part of the trail.  Heat, lack of views, abundant poison oak, unmaintained, overgrown, bushy trails, numerous bears, and countless rattlers make Northern CA a popular destination for PCT hikers to quit.  I almost stepped on a rattler.

We’ve passed many a giant volcano in the past month.  The PCT takes almost a 300 degree route around Mt. Shasta, allowing us to see it for nearly 3 weeks. We went through Lassen National Park past the volcanic sulphuric bubbling lakes.  Unfortunately, I was hoping to catch breakfast before a restaurant closed, so didn’t grab any photos of it.  Next time.

When people send me packages, I feel very loved!
When people send me packages, I feel very loved!

I accidentally ate something with peanuts (I’m allergic to) on a long, hot hike out of Belden, and got sick on the side of the trail.

Yesterday was my first 40 mile day.  It wasn’t hard, minus a strike of diarrhea (let me tell you, hiking with that ailment is *difficult*). 😉

Not letting the quitting spot get to me

John Muir got caught up in this hut after a big storm
John Muir got caught up in this hut after a big storm

We slept the night a mile short of Muir Pass when an unthreatening sky turned into thunderstorms and snow at 2 am.  As we heard the pass above us get pummeled with lightening—the closest strike less than 1 mile away, we took down the pole supporting our tarp-tent letting the tarp lay over us as it accumulated snow.  *That* was not fun.

 

I know I am cute and will give you puppy dog eyes for food.
I know I am cute and will give you puppy dog eyes for food.

What was fun? Hanging out with Super Dave on top of Muir Pass. Despite miles and miles of snow in any direction, a marmot seemed to appear out of no where to welcome us. Adorable little trickster!

 

We saw our first ranger in the Sierra who asked to see my thru-hiking permit.  Many thru-hikers ignore Sierra regulations and don’t carry bear canisters (big, heavy plastic containers to “protect” your food from bears).  Our bear can was way too small for all our food, and we were terrified of running into a ranger, but he didn’t ask any questions.

Two fords, Evolution Creek and Bear Creek, scared me, but with the help of hiking, we made it past the waist-deep, fast-rushing water alive.  Every year, a thru-hiker dies in a ford.  In Northern Yosemite, Kerrick Creek threatened to be that ford, especially since we got there at 7 pm when it was raging the highest.  We lucked out, though, and found a fallen log to cross.

Lots of mosquitoes in Yosemite.  Only one bear sighting around Highway 50 in Tahoe. Despite ditching the bear canister, no bear has gotten our food. Met my parents in Tahoe for a day and my uncle in Truckee.  I’m on my 5th pair of sunglasses (broken, bad fit, broken, broken).

Lost with Collywobbles

 

When we got to Mather Pass, the trail was covered in snow and we followed a  thru-hiker named Colllywobbles up what appeared from the map to be “Mather Pass.”  We couldn’t believe there were no footprints and it was awfully steep and terrifying to go over.

“Don’t look down,”  I kept telling myself as I saw a the steep snowfield I was traversing go down hundreds of feet below me.  “That’s going to be a bad slide if I miss my foot.”  In a couple spots, the snow became so soft that we post-holed (fell through the snow) up to our waists and had to dig ourselves out.

When we got to the top, we didn’t see Collywobbles anywhere, but I did see a recent rockfall/avalanche.

“Oh no!  Collywobbles is dead!”

It became clear that we were on the wrong pass.  The map made it look like the valley we looked down on might connect with the PCT, but it followed a river and some steep slopes—we worried we might face a waterfall and not be able to continue.

As much as I *hated* the idea of going back down the terrifying slope we’d just come up, we decided it best to go down and find the real pass.

By the time we got down and up and over the real pass, the snow was soft and I felt my foot slip twice at the top of the real pass.  We left a note for other hikers showing where the real pass goes. (Note: 4 years later, I learned that a friend of mine from the PCT, Super Dave, had found that note several days later and was incredibly thankful that he read it and didn’t end up the wrong “pass.” So glad that it ended up helping someone.)

Epilogue of this adventure: A ranger we met told us a few days later that we went over the old PCT-route.  Collywobbles found his way back to the PCT in what ended up being a shortcut.

Glen Gnarly

Not a good time to be up in them mountains
Not a good time to be up in them mountains

Our ascent over Forester was done in sunny weather, but soon the weather changed and we found ourselves about to cross Glen Pass (around 12,000 feet) in the evening with snow coming down on us.  Crossing Forester had drained me physically and taken an insane amount of time to cover a few miles.  Plus, crossing passes in the evening in soft semi-melted snow is a lot scarier and more slippery than in the early morning.  So…we camped at 10-11,000 ft below the pass next to a windy lake only to have 6 inches of snow dump on us.  We looked out through the crack between our floorless tarp and the ground to see snow pile around us.  Shoes and backpacks we used to line the gap between the tarp-tent and the ground had to be dug out of the snow.  With the new snow and a white-out, it was impossible to follow footprints of have any idea where the trail went.  After going the wrong direction, we used the map to find the steep gap in the mountains where we assumed the trail went.  Our response: “We go over *that*?!?”

The decent down was hairier.  We trailblazed new footprints down the 45 degree angle decent in a white-out, the only thought coming to my mind was “Avalanche.”  By the time we got down, we had barely eaten or drank anything since it had been too cold to stop to do either.   The sun came out and we dried our soaking gear, only for it to start raining again.  In fact, almost everyday in the Sierra, it rained or snowed on us and it’s cold at even 10,000 feet!