Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

Are you prepared for hiking the PCT in 2018? I’m not.

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In anticipation of hiking the PCT in 2018, I decided to take a multi-day trip into a remote wilderness here in Kenya called Eburru Forest. In many ways, the aim of this outdoor adventure was to determine my lack of fitness but at the same time, it was also an opportunity to get outdoors and test some gear.

Fail to prepare, prepare for a miserable first few weeks

Trekking through dense jungle with a half empty backpack, I began realizing the Pacific Crest Trail would be an awful lot more challenging than expected and at no time was this more obvious than when my ragged pair of New Balance trainers plunged into a mountain stream. For the rest of this day, my feet were wet but then it’s had to feel distracted by such minor details when you struggle just to put one foor in front of the other.

That being said, I believe these are obvious concerns for most thru-hikers in the first few weeks of a trail (lack of fitness or inadequate equipment) and overall, I was reasonably happy with my first preparations for hiking the PCT in 2018. Here are five of the main realizations I had during my first training trip:

1. My tent is awesome, but not suitable for long distance trekking

Although I absolutely love this tent, the Vango Banshee 200 is a little too big for hiking the PCT in 2018. In terms of space, there is obviously enough inside but the tent is just too big when packed away and compared to my next shelter, the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2, it carries far too much weight.

2. Trekking shoes are extremely important

Yes, it seems as though I may have understated the importance of having the perfect pair of shoes for hiking. Although my flimsy New Balance trainers would never make the grade, this hike in Eburru Forest made me realize the need for solid shoes to keep out moisture and offer better footing in wet conditions.

3. Either a kindle or writing material is necessary

There was no signal in Eburru Forest and without anything to read, I found it a little boring at the end of each day. I know how this might sound but while I can usually sit for hours in front of a fire and get lost in my own imagination, there will certainly be a need for stimulation while hiking the PCT in 2018 – especially when camping alone. Moral of the story: I should take a kindle and audiobooks for company.

4. My current sleep system is pretty crap

Blankets and a sleeping bag are a terrible combination when it comes to ultra-light hiking. Yes, most of the backpack was packed tight with blankets, which is mostly because my sleeping bag is too light. In the next month or two, I will be buying a new sleeping bag which is warm and light-weight.  In fact, this will be a sleeping quilt, rather than a sleeping bag – there is a difference.

Eburru Forest

5. And six months is a long time, it is wise to invest heavily in the right outdoor gear

Six months is a hell of a long time and trying to “make do” with outdoor gear will only end in frustration and disappointment. In just two days, I decided that investing in the right outdoor equipment will probably be the best decision I will ever make in lieu of hiking the PCT in 2018.

Are you hiking the PCT in 2018? I would love to hear from you on my Facebook Page 😉

I'm an Outdoor Adventure Blogger from Dublin, Ireland. In late 2013 I began riding a bicycle across Africa and it was during this adventure when I discovered a passion for the great outdoors and the general uncertainty of life on the road. Next April, I am hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

2 Comments

  1. Chris

    August 14, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Derek sounds like an amazing trip. How much food will you be carrying?
    Chris recently posted…Top 5 boot dryers for 2017My Profile

    • Derek Cullen

      August 14, 2017 at 4:24 pm

      Cheers Chris, I think one week worth of food will be the most I will need to carry at any one time. Still, I have a lot of preparation to do and research on the route itself so I will plan all of this in more detail closer to the time. For now, I am concentrating on getting the right gear together – Thanks for the comment Chris!

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