Pacific Crest Trail (2018) Pre-Hike 4: The Dark Void of Too Much Information

Sunday, March 11, 2018

I finished work last week and I’ve been in PCT planning mode ever since. There’s so much info about the PCT that planning becomes unnecessarily complicated, but I want to mention a few less visible sources of info.

1. David Odell’s 1972 trail journal

This source is 45+ years out of date and your hike will be wildly dissimilar, but it’s the writing of trail royalty! David Odell was one of the first people to hike the PCT when the Forest Service released the route maps, and he and his group were tracked by journalists and a television crew (who never made the documentary – thanks a lot, CBS). They were sponsored by Kelty, the first company to sell backpacks with aluminum external frames and the first company to sell internal frame backpacks, and Dick Kelty personally met up with them multiple times along the route. They crossed Forester Pass on May 8th. They shared a hotel room for $6.50 each at Warner Springs Resort and $4 in Burney. Someone almost got hit by a vehicle while rushing to a hamburger stand. There were funny haircuts (sorry Butch).

2. eTrails app by David Harris (iOS)

For starters, the app’s icon looks like a kid made it in Microsoft Paint, so there’s a lot of nostalgia there.


Content-wise, I like how the app is both maps/GPS and guidebook (David Harris also writes guidebooks for Wilderness Press) and provides trivia and information about local biology and geology along with detailed descriptions and photos of various waypoints, water sources and campsites. It’s also free, which is amazing considering the amount of info.

eTrails app screenshot

Other sources I plan to use and/or have looked at:

Halfmile maps (Free)

PCT water & fords reports (Free)

Postholer snow report (Free)

– Yogi’s guide ($$)

As the Crow Flies town guide (Free)

– Wilderness Press guidebooks ($$ and outdated)

– journals (Laundry Mat and Pika’s, ICU’s, a guy who describes multiple fail bear hangs) (Free)

– Guthook app ($$, I’ve only looked at free portion)

Now I have company in the dark void of too much information! Unfortunately my start date is looking like a no-go. Readers are fortunate that at this particular moment I’m not in the mood for throwing a pity party and have instead been thinking about alternatives. The PCTA suggests hiking the desert section in reverse if no doable start date is available, or I could save the first half of the hike for another year and start north of the Sierra Nevada when trail conditions and my foot permit. Going SOBO doesn’t appeal since 2018 is a high snow year for Washington. I’m going to try to get an appointment with my podiatrist this week to discuss, because solitary obsessing has proved surprisingly useless.

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