“How do you prepare for the Pacific Crest Trail?”, is a question asked by many people when talking about thru-hiking the whole trail. Well, besides being fit at the start, all you can actually do is make sure you have the right gear, have tested it and know how it works. So that’s what I set out to do in the US. Get used to my gear and test it in Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.
To start, I planned to head into Zion up to Observation Point, a 11.4 km in and out trail to the highest point of the park. It can easily be done in a couple of hours, so a small daypack with some water and a couple of snacks should’ve been enough. And there was I, hauling a complete PCT-ready pack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and everything on the trail. To simulate the added weight of food and water for the PCT, I actually packed out 7 liters of water, making my pack weigh about 16kg. Of the many hikers on trail, some made fun of me behind my back (‘what a moron’ – random hiker), others were interested in the reason behind this pack choice leading to some nice conversations. The hike itself was pretty strenuous at times, due to steep switchbacks, and provides amazing views (see picture gallery below). I couldn’t have wished for a better start of my trip.
After a good night sleep in my new Zpacks Duplex tent and getting some supplies from the local grocery store, I headed into the Zion wilderness. The West Rim Trail was gonna be my first overnight wilderness hike. I started at the top of the map (right), slept at the blue dot and hiked back up the next morning. The total distance of the hike was just over 30km. It was a pleasant surprise that a deer visited my campsite at night. Besides some strong winds and the deer, the night was quite uneventful. A great introduction to how my life will be for 5+ months on the PCT next year.
After getting off the West Rim Trail, I headed through the park towards Bryce Canyon. Where I planned to hike the Under the Rim Trail in three days. More on that in my next post.