So, spring is coming and you want to make your break actually feel like you did something, instead of just passing you by with drunken, cigarette smoke-filled nights on a porch? Go hike the Pacific Crest Trail like everyone else since the Wild thing went Hollywood! Here is a get-you-started guide.
Weigh your backpack and cut out every fucking ounce you can! Take practice hikes or walks around town with more than your expected weight—use gallons of water or other heavy stuff. You can’t just show up on the trail and expect to walk 20 miles in a day; you have to work out now and get used to the feel of a heavy pack cutting into your hips.
In your pack you need a small sleeping bag that you think will be warm enough, and a 1–2-person tent you strap on the outside. If you are traveling with a lover, I still suggest separate tents. At the end of the day you will be dirty, stinky and tired. Your own space is nice.
You need a MSR (or what ever brand you want) white gas stove, and one cooking pot. Put the stove and an assortment of spices in the pot for space. Everything you bring should be as light as you can get it. You will also need a water purification pump.
I’m sure most people today will bring a solar-powered charger for their phones. If you want to do this, please do not spend any time, not one second of this trip on the internet or social media. Phones are a good idea for emergencies, but if you are posting to Facebook while on the PCT…go…the fuck…home!
For food on the PCT, most of you will want to buy freeze-dried beef stroganoff meals for seven bucks a pop. I’m sorry, but these are gross despite the huge quantity of useful calories. I like some small grain rice and lentils, Ramen noodles, trail mix with chocolate and cranberries, oatmeal, a head of garlic, some cheese and salami for the first few days, Clif bars, Jolly Ranchers to suck on while walking and a bottle of Wild Turkey. Expect to eat a lot, but don’t bring too much—food weighs a lot. A good variety of herbs and spices is light, as is a small bottle of cooking oil, like a few ounces.
Gatorade bottles are the lightest, strongest water bottle by the way. Two liters should be good, depending on the time of year (later in the summer some streams dry up).
There are no garbage cans up here, so exclude wrapping and garbage when you can. Pack out what you pack in.
Protection for me is a knife and bear spray, but this is a personal decision.
Clothing should be light and easy to wash in streams. Don’t bring a lot! A pair of shorts and pants, a few shirts, some rain gear, a thermal shirt or two, and three pairs of socks. Use environmentally friendly soap like Castile (Dr. Bronner’s).
The map and guide book for this is pretty standard: Pacific Crest Trail from Wilderness Press. There are two books, one for Cali, one for OR/WA. You can also rip out pages of the section you will hike to cut down on weight. Bring a pad for writing, a book that you will be too tired to read, and some marijuana to be smoked out of a tin foil pipe. I don’t bring music because I like the sound of the woods, but maybe you can’t live without it.
OK, you are good. Go!
Disclaimer: This is the Jon Raby special. The Vanguard isn’t liable if you’re drunk and stoned and a bear steals all your candy…or limbs.