We are receiving a lot of questions as news of our family hiking the PCT has spread. We hope that this may answer some of the questions but if not feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to answer to the best of our ability.
According to REI "a thru-hike is an end-to-end backpacking trip on a long-distance trail." For the PCT that means a continuous footpath of 2,650 miles from the southern terminus at the border of Mexico at Campo, CA to the northern terminus at the border of Canada at Manning Park in British Columbia.
While elite athletes have done it in 2 months... we are not elite athletes. We are expecting it to take our family between 5 and 6 months.
We will not be isolated out in the woods six months straight. Every week or so the trail leads close to a town where we will get off for a night, stay in a hotel, shop at local stores, and eat at a restaurant. Some of these towns we may even take an extra day known as a "zero" (because zero miles of the PCT are hiked) and visit with friends and family or explore a nearby city.
Between these town days, we will be on the trail, sleeping in tents, often with little to no cell reception carrying all of our needed supplies on our backs.
We will be eating a mix of homemade and store-bought food. Due to Brittanie being allergic to gluten it is often easier to dehydrate our own food and mail it to different points on the trail. These homemade meals often taste better than what you buy at the store and are significantly cheaper. We will also be buying food in the towns along the way as this is much more convenient and can satisfy the craving of the moment. We typically will be carrying 3-7 days worth of food at a time.
We have a variety of backpacking gear that ranges from high-end ultralight gear to standard affordable backpacking gear. Over time we are looking to upgrade and swap out only what is necessary to try and keep costs down while trying to make it as easy and comfortable to carry as possible. In the upcoming months, we will try to share a detailed gear list for each of us and review the set up at the end of the trip.
To show my daughter that there are so many ways to live and places to explore. For our family to continue our lesson in the satisfaction after accomplishing something incredibly hard. For myself to become more comfortable in not having all of the answers and that sometimes the plan is to just see what happens. To build our relationship with each other and the many who will be around us and get to know a different community.
Because we saved, scrimped, and sacrificed for two years and all 3 of us are physically and mentally able to at this time!
So about that...
Greg is finishing his teaching credentials around December of 2019. After that, he will be changing careers after the beginning of 2020 regardless of the trail and is looking to teach third-sixth grade. This happens to be the perfect time for him to hike the trail before starting in a classroom and relocate to Washington.
Brittanie started her job in September of 2018 with them knowing that this was in the calendar and ready to approve a leave of absence. Although they gave her a very hard time when she announced she would be relocating to Washington after, they totally understand and it is actually easier for them logistically than trying to cover the time with temporary personnel.
It took a while to figure out what options were available for school, but in the end it seemed like homeschooling is the only one that is viable. She will be using Khan Academy to stay up on her math and Brittanie was shown some great resources from other middle school teachers to create the remaining curriculum that meets California common core standards while being relevant to the trail. She will have some time off but will work through summer to be able to accommodate doing less each week while hiking.
The house will be rented starting at 4/1 on a annual lease agreement through a property management company so as they won’t be dependent on contacting us should anything be needed.
The dog is going to go to Washington early as my sister, her fiancé, and there adorable border collie have graciously agreed to host him. Greg and Brittanie will take a short road trip, as she will also be taking one of the cars, and they will organize the resupply boxes she has offered to send out for them.
Did we mention Brittanie’s sister ROCKS and can be seen in our 12th anniversary trip when we hiked the Three Sisters Wilderness in 2019!
YES. Considering how long our commutes were in our town life - we were more likely to get in a car accident while going to and from work then have a serious injury on trial.
Although there are a few (typically less than 5) deaths a year on the PCT, that includes all thru-hikers, section hikers, day hikers, etc. Remember that the PCT goes through 3 states, 26 National Forests, 7 National Parks, 5 State Parks, and 4 National Monuments all across 2,652 miles. There are thousands and thousands of people that travel on the trail each year.
A big part of how we are staying safe is by having invested in quality gear that will help us be equipped from the heat of the desert to the snow in the Sierras and Cascades. We will also be carrying a Garmin inReach two way satellite communicator as well as each of us having a special app on our phones that uses GPS and is frequently updated with trail conditions.
We have also gone on numerous practice hikes with all of our gear to ensure our layers will work to keep us warm enough, our water capacity will carry enough for long stretches, what food to pack to ensure enough calories and nutrition, etc. We have encountered bears and snakes and have had numerous conversations about what to do in different situations.
Yes to both. The family will work together to put together a series of videos on their YouTube channel as well as Brittanie and Maddie will each have their own blog. They can also be found on Instagram and facebook. See the links below for their social media profiles.