On The Trail

Updated March 17, 2020

How quickly things can change. I’ve cancelled my big hike. Now is not the time for me to be away. 

There will be other hikes. 

Stay well everyone.

I write and talk a lot about food – growing it, preserving it, sharing it and of course eating it!  I don’t often share much about other activities in my life – like my passion for being active outdoors. Hiking and kayaking are my favorite outdoor activities followed by cross country skiing in the winter. Whenever I get the chance – I hop on a trail and go for a walk. 

getty on west coast trail
On the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island.

This spring, I have the opportunity to jump on the Pacific Crest Trail. The PCT is a long-distance trail along the highest portion of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges, which lie 100 to 150 miles east of the U.S. Pacific coast. The trail is about 2,650 miles or 4,250 km long and runs from the Mexican to Canadian border with a total elevation change of 420,880 ft or 128,284 m. It is the trail that Cheryl Strayed took, her journey was portrayed by Reese Witherspoon in the movie WILD. 

overall view of PCT

It takes the average Thru Hiker (those that complete the full 2650 miles) about 5-6 months to complete the trail. In 2019, 7,888 permits were issued, just over 900 completed the trek.

Other hikers, like me that do a portion of the trail are called Section Hikers. My goal is to go from the South Terminus at the Mexican border to Auga Dulce about 450 miles or 725 km north in 4 1/2 weeks at around 15 miles/day. 

gettys pct hike

This part of the trail is often referred to as the desert section. It’s hot, with very few trees and very few natural water sources. The recommendation is to carry 1 litre of water for every 4-5 miles. With several 30 mile stretches where there are no water sources, that means I’ll need to carry 6-7.5 litres of water which is equivalent to 6 to 7.5 kg or 13-17 pounds. Ugh!

Days will be hot and sunny 25-30°C (77-86°F) and nights could cool down to 5° or -3°C  (26-41°F). It’s likely to be windy but not very wet. There may be snow in the higher mountains like Mount San Mt Jacinto near Palm Springs. Only time will tell.
I chose this particular section of the PCT because it’s one of the safest, most accessible and well supported trails at this time of year. The trail will have many other hikers who will be doing the same section at the same time as me. The trail goes through or close to a town every 4 to 6 days, so there are lots of opportunities to get more food or supplies. Most of the trail has cell phone coverage and there is a really good support community of trail angels along the way if I ever need anything. There are no bears and it is extremely rare for rattle snakes to actually strike people. In other words, I feel confident that I’ll be safer there than driving in the city.

Next Steps

It’s less than two months until I leave. I’m working on physical fitness training, selecting the right gear and prepping my food.

And so we’re back to talking about food! I’ve started dehydrating various foods that I know I’ll need but I haven’t prepared my meal plan for the trip yet. That’ll happen in the next couple of weeks. I’m excited to tackle this challenge to make sure I have good nutrition to fuel long days of hiking.

tasty trail food
This Red Thai Curry is one of my favorite trail food recipes.
I’ve been dehydrating and assembling backcountry food for many canoe, hiking and kayaking trips. I know I’m going to have some tasty meals and treats in my pack. But I’ve never planned for this long before. Nor have I ever sent myself food on the trail before. Exciting new things to learn about.
If you’re curious, have any tips or questions please let me know by commenting below. I’d love to hear your suggestions and welcome all the positive support I can get!  Also let me know if you’d be interested in learning more about my food prepping process. If there’s enough interest, I’ll post more info.