The Lure of a Long Trail: Planning a Thru-Hike (Part 1 of 4)

4:33 a.m. on October 25, 2009 (EDT)
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This thread is for comments on the article "The Lure of a Long Trail: Planning a Thru-Hike (Part 1 of 4)"

Planning a thru-hike? Sorting through a deluge of advice and wondering which to pay attention to? Successful backpackers can tell you what really matters. In the first of four columns, PCT veteran Barbara Egbert talks to other thru-hikers about gear decisions, training, and preparation (Originally posted in October 2009).

Full article at

9:59 p.m. on October 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Re: The Lure of the Long Trail: Planning a Thru-Hike (Part 1 of 4)

Normally I don’t comment on articles however this one has several good points.

First, what you carry is very much up to the individual, but packing light is important to an enjoyable hike – pack for the specific trail. My first weeklong hike required 65 pounds of food and dry gear; I quickly learned it was just over 80 pounds wet. Now, if my pack hits 35 pounds I have too much. At 55 I have decided my next trek will not exceed 30 pounds of pack gear. Experience with gear dictates when you find what’s right for you, keep it! For example, I still use my original 40 plus year old Optimus camping stove that burns any fuel except lead free gas. What you carry is personal and depends on how little you need to survive. If you read the “must have in your pack” lists you better invest in a mule; those that created the lists never carried all that stuff themselves for a trek. My advice is to pack wisely and pack for you. After 43 years of backpacking I only have two to three required items, first aid, a good knife, and sometimes a pistol (coyotes have ruined my trip twice, I have ruined their investigation once).

Second, I definitely agree with breaking boots in before you start! I wear “old school” (heavy) leather Scalpa class B climbing boots and do not care for modern style high tech boots. The several pairs I have tried lead me to believe the designers never did a real trek in them – I’ll try more but at the company’s expense, not mine. I can deal with all other stresses, but if the feet don’t feel good all day, each and every day, no matter how long or short the hike, it is not enjoyable.

Third, experience dictates always plan on hiking the trail yourself. It seams every time I go to hike with someone else I picked the wrong partner and end up with a choice, do the hike some other time or continue by myself and find my own way home – this included a potential other half who walked out of my future. However, for the last 28 years I have enjoyed my non-trail spouse who drops me off at one end of the trail and picks me up at the other!

So far this is a good article and I look forward to the rest.

10:19 p.m. on October 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Re: The Lure of the Long Trail: Planning a Thru-Hike (Part 1 of 4)

Really glad to see this series of articles being started. The wife and I are now preparing our lives so that in about 10 years we will be free to hit the long trails. All the information on how to do these hikes that we get now will increase our enjoyment and chances of being successful when we do beging to attempt these thru hikes.

2:32 p.m. on August 25, 2010 (EDT)
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Great information. Thank you:


6:11 a.m. on April 20, 2015 (EDT)
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here is a good link for all the weather through the trail

10:29 a.m. on April 20, 2015 (EDT)
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It is interesting that 25 % of the people that try the AT finish it, but 60% of the people that try the PCT are successful. Anyone care to try to answer the reason why this is true?

9:45 a.m. on April 22, 2015 (EDT)
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I've heard lower number for both ppine, but a similar ratio. My supposition is that the difficulty in accessing the PCT, the challenge or resupply and the more intense wilderness experience serves to select a set of people more likely to finish. While the AT is easier to access, it is, IMHO,  more "difficult" in terms of grade and tread surface. It's very seldom that the grade of a slope on the PCT exceeds 13%, where nearly vertical rock occurs on the AT in many locales.

June 24, 2018
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