When to go

The hiking season for the Pacific Crest Trail normally lasts from late April through October, but varies from year to year depending on the snow pack in the Sierras and in the Cascades. Most hikers hike the Pacific Crest Trail from south to north, aka northbound og nobo. The key point is that you have to start late enough to allow most of the snow melt away before you reach the Sierras, but early enough to reach Canada before the snow starts to form again in the fall.

As the time of this writing the Sierra snow pack is looking very favorable for us PCT hikers. The California statewide snow water equivalent (SWEQ), i.e. the snow pack meassured in how much water it contains, is only at 34% of normal for this date. Of course, Winter ain’t over yet, but chances are slim that enough snow will fall to change the situation drastically. The snow pack is way below the record high of 2011 when I hiked the John Muir Trail, almost down by the record lows of 1976-77.

plot_swc-2012

 

Last summer I averaged 14,8 miles when hiking the John Muir Trail through the Sierra Nevada, and that was in a high snow year. The Sierra Nevada is also considered to be one of the most demanding sections on the PCT, even in a normal snow year. So with less snow, more experience and a lighter backpack I have set myself a goal of averaging 20 miles/day (32 km/day), including zero-days (a zero-day is a day when you don’t hike, i.e. you put down zero miles), for the total of the PCT. This will mean around 4,5 months on the trail. Far from a record time, but nontheless a medium to medium-fast hike by most accords. I am aiming to start out from Campo at around May 05. This will put me in Manning Provincial Park B.C. by mid-September if all goes well.

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