Elliott's PCT Thru-hike
Hello, my name is Elliott Baer and I will be hiking the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) which spans from the Mexican/Californian border through California, Oregon, Washington and into Canada, a total of 2,650 miles (see map below). I will be starting the PCT on April 26, 2013 and will finish in the beginning of September, 2013.
Long distance hiking is not a new experience for me. In 2009 I hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail (2,175 miles). Hiking the Appalachian Trail was a lifechanging experience and a fulfillment of a personal goal. Have more questions about preperation and the gear I will have? Check out my blog below!
My endeavor to hike the PCT will have a three-fold purpose. Obviously, this will be a very personal achievment for me. Secondly, I would like to enable others to vicariously experience this hike with me. (Please check back as my departure date gets closer. More details will emerge.) Lastly, I would like this hike to impact others who are in need of basic living essentials.If you would like to partner with me in this goal, you may do so by clicking the "donate" button to the right. Some individuals may choose to donate a lump some of their choice, others may choose to commit to a particular amount per mile walked. For example: 2,650 miles times 1 penny per mile = $26.50. Whatever you may choose to give, would be greatly appreciated.
I will have a SPOT GPS tracker and will hopefully send daily updates of my location. If you would like to receive regular updates, email me at ElliottPCT@gmail.com and I will add you to the list.
I've joined Team World Vision to help change lives in Africa. The needs are great, but I believe there is something we can do!
$50 provides clean water for 1 person for a generation.
Will you make a tax-deductible donation to support my efforts? No amount is too small or too great! Together we can help change lives in Africa.
World Vision works with communities in desperate need to help provide things like clean water, nutritious food, education, medical care, and economic opportunity.
My Personal Web Log
There are multiple fire burning in the surrounding area of mt. Shasta which means lots of smoke and poor views. The 3 fires were relatively close to the pct, 2 are contained but the one in Oregon is around 40,000 acres and still out of control. Every morning when I wake up, I am able to smell a burning smell, almost a chemical sort of smell.
From Burney, these are the miles I did each day: 14, 32, 22, 24. Hiking in the heat, my feet are constantly expanding, thus causing problems when I wear my normal sized shoe. I had to switch to a larger size shoe in Burney, but there was no decent shoe store which means I had to settle for a pair of sketchers. Sketchers are not known to by a hiking shoe, in fact, more people would say to stay away from sketchers as a hiking shoe. As it turns out, the pair of sketchers I bought were ultra comfy, but had a very little support on the button which means I feel everything I step on. I finally got a decent pair of shoes that are worthy hiking in here in Shasta.
Town shirts is an idea that was created and manifested while hiking the Appalachian trail. I brought the idea out here on the pct and the idea is spreading like a wild fire. Left and right, people seem to be getting town shirts. The idea behind a town shirt is to find a tacky looking shirt that most people would never wear. Attached is a photo of rocks and I in our town shirts.
I hope to be in Etna in about 4-5 days and will write more then!
by Elliott Baer on Sun, Aug 04, 2013 @ 9:02 AM
The past few days have been quite amazing. The terrain has been nearly flat, but also hot, exposed and waterless. We went through a 30 mile stretch across the hatcreek rim where there was no water....the funny part is, in the valley below, just a few miles away, there are the 2 largest natural springs in north america which produce around 1 million gallons per minute. Its odd to think the trail creators didn't make the trail go near those springs.
Across that same stretch I saw 2 rattlesnakes....one I almost stepped on. It was a very large rattler, 4-5 feet long and a green color. He was quite mad and was rattling at first and coiled up, ready to strike. I attached a photo.
I have been walking near mt. Lassen and mt. Shasta, both volcano's that have erupted in the past few thousand years. The area I have been walking through is all volcanic rock and is very hot and exposed because of fires that have burned everything in the past few years.
I'll write again when I get to the town of Shasta.
by Elliott Baer on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 @ 11:16 AM
Well, I am here in south lake Tahoe taking a short day today and a zero tomorrow. In the past few days I have seen 2 large forest fires, neither too close to the trail. Unfortunately for the past 8 days my cameras memory card has been full so I was unable to take photos of what I feel has been my favorite section of trail so far. I have seen a few very large bucks, one had huge antlers with fuzz on them. About a week ago, I saw a very large bear running up the mountain....definitely the largest bear I have seen in my life.
The terrain has been getting easier and easier and the miles per day are getting more and more. My knee is still swollen but it still doesn't really hurt.
The mosquitoes have been incredibly abundant. I have gone through 2 bottles of 100% deet in just a few days. I have never experienced mosquitoes like this....they drive everyone insane!
3 days in a row, there has been trail magic which is rare on this part of the trail. The trail magic consisted of burgers, hot dogs, loads of fresh fruit and all sorts of delicious treats. I barely ate any of my lunches over the past few days because I had trail magic to eat.
The terrain has been lots of ups and downs but not too steep. Lots of old volcanic rocks and mountains make up the landscape around me. For the most part it has only been wocka, Giddy-up and I hiking and camping, but over the past week or so, around 12 other thru hikers have all been camping with us. Some being old friends we have not seen since the desert...lots of laughter and talk around the fire every night.
I hope to make 25+ mile days from now on until I get through oregon....hopefully to give myself some shorter days to enjoy in Washington.
by Elliott Baer on Wed, Jul 10, 2013 @ 6:24 AM
It has been a truly unbelievable few days! The views are phenomenal. Even though hiking through the high sierras is incredibly difficult, its totally worth it. Being days away from any road or town really makes me realize how remote I am. Some of the high passes we have gone through are: Muir Pass, Silver pass, glen pass, Mather pass as well as seldon pass.....you can Google image the passes and see the beauty for yourself.
Muir pass gave a little trouble on the way up with lots of snow and overflowing water ways. Finding the trail is nearly impossible with the snow, so sometimes the only option was to go where you think the trail might have gone....often leading to backtracking and finding a new route. Luckily the pass was not too big of a climb, only about a 4000 foot climb. Upon getting to the top of Muir pass, there was an old stone igloo-looking emergency hut that was made in honor of John Muir. The views from the top were spectacular like always....seeing these mountains with my own eyes is definitely a sight to remember.
Hiking down into one of the valleys after a pass, the trail followed a river giving the opportunity for an afternoon swim. The problem is that the water is near freezing. Jumping into the water takes your breath away....literally. Its really amazing to see some of the rivers and lakes because the water is crystal clear and a turquoise color, very similar to what you might see in the Caribbean. Looking into the water there are loads of trout swimming around, most in the 6-12 inch range. There are also frogs swimming around in the water which is not very expected.
One day while eating lunch at a lake, there was a younger guy fly fishing. He obviously had no idea what he was doing since he was essentially using the rod and line as a whip. So, he is "fly fishing" and his friend is with him; both are barely visible through some bushes and trees. All of the sudden, we hear "yeeeeeoooooouuuccchhhh" followed by profanity. It turns out the one guy who was "fishing" hooked his friend right in the stomach. They had to cut the barbed hook out of his skin.
There are quite a few people who are fishing out here and actually know what they are doing. Some people have been fishing for their dinner every night and have been successful.
There are many sections of the trail where you need to ford across a river or stream to get to the other side. A while back, I was reading a blog by a past hiker who said after one of the fords, they cried because the water was so cold. Fortunately I was not brought to tears from the cold water, but its cold enough where it hurts...it literally hurts.
I have been looking at the maps and the elevation profile for the next 150 miles or so and its seems to be relatively easy walking (no super steep ups or downs), which means 20-25 mile days.??
I have been hiking with Giddy-up and wocka wocka. They have an online blog they have been updating with posts and photos. Since I am hiking with them, they share some similar situations and stories. You can read what they wrote at:
by Elliott Baer on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 @ 9:14 PM
I took a nice relaxing day off here at Kennedy Meadows. The past 10 days or so have been pretty rough. The temperatures in the desert were well over 100 every day, the highest being 117. There were also quite a few sections where there was little to no water which means about 25 miles between water sources. This means carrying a lot of water (heavy) through the desert while its 117 degrees......NOT fun. The good news is that I have only another 40 miles of desert and there is lots of water from here on. The longest stretch of no water seems to be only 15 miles or so. The other day, I was hiking and came across a few hikers who said there was a bear at a small campsite. I went to see, and there was a young bear! Baby Face was taking a nap and woke up to see the bear eating some of his food, so he grabbed his pack and ran. Thats when the other hikers came. I ended up getting quite a few pictures and was able to get withing 20-30 feet of the bear.
A few days ago I was hit by a 24 hour bug that was going around on trail. Fortunately for me, the bug only lasted about 7 hours but left me feeling week and dehydrated.
The high Sierras are coming up and I will be on top of Whitney (14,505 ft), the tallest mountain in the lower 48, on the 15th or 16th. It will definitely be nice to get out of the desert for a while! I plan on finishing the PCT on 9-9-13, exactly 4 years after finishing the AT. So far, Giddy-up, Wocka, Dingo and MudD have told me they will finish on 9-9. There are other people I have been hiking with who said they will try to aim for that same date. Only time will tell whether or not they make it. I have not had phone service for a few days now and probably wont for another 10 or 11 days at least. So, this is my message letting you know I am OK!
-Weather stays nice (no major storms while in the Sierras)
-My feet and knees will continue to stay strong and feel good
-The water sources wont be dry when I get there
-Wockas feet will be healed of blisters and pain
by Elliott Baer on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 @ 9:12 PM
I have now made it to the famous Mojave desert. Its hot! There is almost no shade at all and the water sources are often dry. Its probably not my favorite section of the trail so far, in fact, its my least favorite. The past few days, I have been averaging around 25 miles per day. Today, we have hiked 18 and plan on doing another 10-15 once the sun starts to set. Its way too hot to hike during the heat of the day. My feet are doing well and so are the feet of the people I'm hiking with. I had an encounter with a skunk the other day....about 10 feet from it, and both the skunk and myself were surprised. Luckily, there was no spraying involved! I will hopefully make it to the town called Mojave tomorrow night. That's about 40 miles from where I am now. The place I am at now is called hiker town, even though its not a town. This guy opened up his property to hikers and a small town has been built here, very similar to an old western town. There is a hotel, cantina, feed store, etc. I also saw a coyote before he saw me...almost got a picture, but he ran off after hearing the Velcro from my camera case. I am looking forward to the sierras! Everyone says they are the highlight of a pct thru hike. I will try to send another email around Kennedy meadows which is right before the sierras.....another week or so.
by Elliott Baer on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 @ 9:11 PM
I have now made it 343 miles! This is truley an experience of a lifetime. There is not a moment that goes by where I am not glad I came out here. Yesterday was probably my lowest day on trail so far. I have a strange lump on the inside of my heel that is incredibly painful whenever I take a step. I also woke up yesterday with a sore throat and felt like garbage. I decided to take a day off today and let my foot rest and eat some delicious Del Taco. Del Taco is similar to Taco Bell...a fast food chain. I ended up going there twice within a 4 hour period and ate quite a bit of food. It was so yummy.
The scenery in SoCal is beautiful! Many parts are desert, but even in the desert, there are beautiful flowers and plants, along with many unique animals. I have seen many snakes (2 rattlers), loads of small lizards, toads, a mountain lion, a large deer, rabbits and some have even seen cayotes. I still have not seen a scorpion, but I am not complaining about that!
I apologize for any spelling errors, the keyboard I am using is a little finicky. Until next time....
by Elliott Baer on Sat, May 18, 2013 @ 3:20 PM
Is it really happening? Am I really going? I can't believe it! This trip I have been obsessing over since September is finally about 26 hours away! I have just a few more paragraphs to add to a report I am writing for one of my electronics classes....I can only hope that I learned not to procrastinate to this extent in the future. I am really cutting it close on this one. Tomorrow (Thursday) will be my last day at home, even though most of the day will be spent at work and class.
It is very nice to have a cell phone and a laptop and other technologies that allow me to keep in touch with friends and family, but I am looking forward to leaving all that at home...I will have a cell phone with me, but it will only be turned on about once a week to give my parents a call and tell them how I am doing.
I am all packed.....my wonderful mother went to the grocery store today and purchased a few more food items for me which will be consumed the first few days on the trail.
I don't think I will be able to write anything else in the next day or two, but I will try to update as much as I can while on the PCT.
Again, thank you to everyone who has donated so far! We can make it to $1500!
by Elliott Baer on Wed, Apr 24, 2013 @ 11:49 PM
The day of departure is getting closer and closer! My rain pants and rain jacket just came in from Sierra Designs and I am not disappointed! I now have all the gear I will need to complete this trek....sleeping bag, sleeping pad, clothing, pack, pack cover, trekking poles, water filtration, shoes and food, as well as all the stuff sacks I will be using and a few other miscellaneous items.
50% of the $1500 goal has been reached! Thank you to everyone who has donated, it really does mean a lot, not to only me but the people it helps.
Schooling is almost done! (YAY!) I only have 2 more days of classes and I am free until the fall semester, a much needed mental break.
by Elliott Baer on Mon, Apr 22, 2013 @ 8:45 PM
Two weeks away from my departure date and I am more excited than a child on Christmas morning. I have booked a flight that should leave NJ on Friday, April 26 at 5am. I will hopefully arrive in San Diego with all my gear around 10am. I have already arranged to get picked up from the airport and brought to the starting point of the trail by past PCT thru hikers, Frodo and Scout. I look forward to the beginning of my journey; there is not a day that goes by where I don't think it.
The end of my spring semester is coming up with only a few more tests and a few major assignments that I still have to hand in. I am incredibly thankful for my professors who allowed me to finish this semester about 2.5 weeks early....THANK YOU! If even one of them didn't let me finish early, this trip would not be happening.
Earlier tonight, I packed everything I will need to make sure my bag stays within carry on dimensions; so far, so good!
My main concern on the PCT are two plants called Poodle Dog Bush and Poison Oak. Despite the cuddly sounding name of the Poodle Dog Bush, it has a nasty bite! Supposedly, the rash is pretty much the same as Poison Ivy or Poison Oak, except can stay with you for a month! There are sections of the PCT where the trail is covered in this plant and and running into the plant is "unavoidable" according to some. I will be wearing long sleeves and long pants through those sections regardless of how warm it may be.
I hope to write another post or two before I leave and will try to update as much as possible while on the trail.
by Elliott Baer on Fri, Apr 12, 2013 @ 7:57 PM
Many of you may be wondering what sort of gear I will be using while hiking, as well as the overall weight of the pack.
Cal 13 dridown sleeping bag by Sierra Designs - 1 lb 15oz
Granite Gear Vapor Trail Pack - 2 pounds
Sierra Designs Light Year 1 tent - 2 pounds 14 oz
Sierra designs Gnar Jacket - 11oz
Foam Sleeping Pad - about 12oz
Cooking stove/fuel/pot/fork - 10oz
Water purification (aquamira) - 2oz
Various clothing - about 1 pound
I will also have trekking poles, various stuff sacks, as well as a few other personal items.
With food and all my gear, my pack should weigh no more than 20 pounds.
by Elliott Baer on Tue, Feb 26, 2013 @ 7:00 PM
I am a 24 year old Electronics Engineering Student currently attending my local Community College. In the fall of 2013, I will be attending the New Jersey Institute of Technology to complete my four year degree. I currently work at an Elementary School as well as an auto parts store, both temporary to get through school.
In my free time, I enjoy all sorts of activities including: fishing, kayaking, canoeing and just hanging out.
by Elliott Baer on Tue, Feb 26, 2013 @ 6:50 PM
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.
To learn more about World Vision, visit http://www.worldvision.org.
To learn more about Team World Vision, visit http://www.teamworldvision.org
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