Welcome to our first adventure story, brought to you by the SF Decathlonians of Forclaz! In this post, Dylan tells us about his experiences hiking the PCT. He discusses how he got into backpacking, why he wanted to tackle this trail and his favorite moments.
Decathlon: How did you get into backpacking? What's your favorite part?
Dylan: I got into backpacking as a way to reconnect with the outdoors. I grew up in Los Angeles. Starting in 2017, I found myself with a big itch to spend an extended amount of time far away from concrete and the busy city life. I wanted to explore the unknown and bite off a goal that was out of my comfort zone. Hiking the PCT would offer tons of inspiration and time to think about the bigger picture.
Decathlon: What is the PCT, and why did you want to hike it?
Dylan: The PCT is short for the Pacific Crest Trail, which is a 2,650-mile hiking trail that goes from the Mexico/California border to the Washington/Canada border. The trail qualifies as national scenic trail, since it follows the natural line of mountains that spreads over the entire West Coast. Some of the most notable areas the trail passes through are the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Cascades. Unique to the PCT is a wide variety of mountain terrain. For example, the first 700 miles north of the Mexican border is desert, where water is scarce and air is dry. The northern end the trail lies in the lush Pacific Northwest. It was incredible to witness the landscape change so frequently while being on the same trail for the whole time.
Decathlon: Can you describe your experience on the trail?
Dylan: I felt like no matter how strong I felt physically or mentally, the trail always found a way to teach me something. I found it very humbling to live such a full life on the trail with so few belongings. I finished the trail with only 8 lbs of gear in my pack, which I felt was all I needed. My light load allowed me to maximize the amount focus I gave to the places and people I was surrounded by, instead of the heavy load on my back. The more you know, the less you need and the more you see. Pack light and travel far.
My favorite part of the hike was discovering what my body was capable of doing and spending such a long time away from cell reception/internet/work, etc. I had never attempted a long distance hike, and honestly, I had no idea what I was in for. A long, multi-month hike turns into a greater challenge mentally than physically. After the first couple weeks of hiking, your body becomes conditioned to hiking every day, and the challenge becomes primarily a mental challenge. You need to continue to wake up early every morning, becoming more efficient and budgeting your money.