PCT Day 142 Hardest Day on the PCT


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6th September

Mileage 22.5

Bushcamp (2522.3) to Vista Creek (2544.8)

Miles to Canada 115.4 (185km)

I wasn’t sure if it rained overnight as I slept so well. Within the first couple of miles I looked up at the surrounding mountains and saw a fresh layer of snow. After crossing Kennedy Creek on a very wonky bridge the first climb started. It wasn’t long before I hit patches of snow, then what seemed like a snowfield.

The cold on my feet was intense. Every time snow hit my shoes it melted it’s way inside to give my feet a constant ice bath. My gloves were soaked. I was cold but still I continued. I constantly assessed and reassessed my situation, my body and the weather. I was thankful for one thing, no wind. If there was I would have set up camp and waited. I was following three other footprints, I didn’t know who they belonged to. At least I’m not alone, even though I am.

I crested the first 4000 feet climb in cloudy, cold weather. My spirits were low. I was tired. More tired than usual. I’d eaten more than 2000 calories of food before midday in an effort to stay warm and keep the supply of energy needed for the climbs, but I was only halfway done for the day.

I was in such pain and low spirits I took out my camera to take a photo. I wanted to remember the painful times just as much as the joyous times. My hands were so frozen I could not close them properly. I as took the camera out I lacked the strength to grip the camera. I dropped it into the snow. I shall remember that painful photo for a long time. Washington can be brutal.

I had to descend 4000 feet then climb another 4000 feet. This PCT hiking is not all fun and fantastic scenery, it must be earned. 

The second climb was just as brutal minus the snow. I ran into a couple of PCT hikers who heard about the PCT reopening between Stevens pass and Stehiken. They decided to head southbound, not wanting to leave any part of the PCT unhiked.

They were surprised to only see three other hikers in all the previous days. Where was everyone? Did they skip sections? Quit? Wait out the rain and snow in their tents? Suddenly I felt very alone.

I reached camp as it was getting dark. An 11 hour hike that included 8101 feet (2469m) of climbing which is the most I’ve ever climbed in one day with a full backpack. Just a brutal day, I’m exhausted. 

a screen short of all the switchbacks for the second climb of the day
At this point I was really struggling to stay warm
im so cold, wet and tired
thats the PCT right in front of me
top of the second 4000 ft pass, very tired

Next : Day 143 A day with no rain!

The Best information about the Pacific Crest Trail:
Complete Guide to the Pacific Crest Trail
Resupply Guide for the PCT
PCT Gear List

PCT Gear Review

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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19 thoughts on “PCT Day 142 Hardest Day on the PCT”

  1. Thx for the breadbag idea. I used my neosocks on one rainy, cold day and even though my feet were wet, they stayed warm. But Ma Nature treated me kindly during my hike. That luck will surely be tested this year.

  2. Wow, what a day. A true challenge of yourself. An amazing day for sure. The screen shot of the GPS, what kind of GPS is that? Have followed your posts every day, an amazing hike without a doubt.

    • It was rough, luckily Washington gets storms that come in for a couple of days or a week then the good weather returns for a while but the trees are turning all colours of yellow, orange and red so I guess summer is finishing

  3. I’m enjoying your story’s very much. My wife and I are preparing for the PCT starting in April of 2016 Southbound. I can’t wait to be following in your shoes!

  4. Hi “shepard”
    We have been reading your blog since the very beginning constantly. We somehow shared all the ups and downs with you. It’s so amazing to see you are very close to canada! So we send all good wishes that the weather will get better and that you might keep on going! Can’t wait to read your “final” post on reaching the monument at the end of the trail;-)
    Best wishes from switzerland (dreaming of hiking the pct one day)

  5. That’s a pretty good idea! I’m adding those to my list. I hope I make it as far and I hope I have enough time to fit the required training in. I can see how demanding a trail it is. You have my respect!

    • I wish I had some bread bags to use as a vapour liner inside my shoes but on the outside of my socks, that would have been enough for me.


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