Unicorn’s Pacific Crest Trail Blog – PCT 2017

Hi! I’m Unicorn. Welcome to my Pacific Crest Trail blog!

In 2017, I quit my job and embarked on a grand adventure – I attempted to thru-hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in one summer. Stretching from the Mexican border all the way to Canada, the 2650-mile Pacific Crest Trail follows along the Sierra and Cascade mountain ranges and passes through some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States.

Dubbed the Summer of Ice and Fire, 2017 was an especially difficult year for hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. The exceptionally high snow pack in the Sierras meant that hikers had to endure higher than average levels of snow as well as dangerously swollen creeks. Two hikers died while trying to cross rivers in the Sierras that year. It was also a bad year for forest fires and many sections of the PCT were impacted by fire closures later in the summer.
Between the challenging weather in 2017 and a medical condition that took me off trail for several weeks, I was not able to complete the entire PCT in 2017. I did hike over 1800 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2017, however, and I kept hiking until falling snow prevented me from going any further. I kept a daily Pacific Crest Trail blog about my adventure so that I could share the experiences with others who were not able to come with me.

To learn more about how I prepared for my Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike and the adventures that happened to me while on trail, read on.

Or, skip right to the good stuff. Start reading the blog here: Unicorn’s Pacific Crest Trail Blog Day 1: The Southern Terminus

Unicorn's Pacific Crest Trail Blog: Selfie in front of Mt. Hood in Oregon.
Selfie in front of Mt. Hood in Oregon.

Pre-Hike Preparations

  • Operation: Resupplies on the PCT
    How to handle resupplying food is a decision that faces all PCT through-hikers. A PCT hiker usually requires 3500-5000 calories a day once they get going, which roughly equals at least 2 lbs of food a day. That’s A LOT of food. So, what’s a girl to do?
  • Unicorn’s PCT 2017 Totally Amazing Gear Post
    Long distance hikers are obsessed with pack weight. Thru-hikers are famous for cutting the handles off of their toothbrushes and snipping unused buckles and straps from their packs to save weight…
  • And So It Begins!
    My PCT hike officially begins tomorrow! Yesterday Daniel dropped me off at the Seatac airport. It rained all the way to the airport, a fitting sendoff from my fair city…

Pacific Crest Trail Blog Part I: Southern California

Southern Terminus to Lone Pine, CA

Unicorn's Pacific Crest Trail Blog: Hiking along the L.A. Aqueduct in Southern California.
Hiking along the L.A. Aqueduct in Southern California.
 Monarch and I finally reached Kennedy Meadows! This is a big milestone on the PCT.
Monarch and I finally reached Kennedy Meadows! This is a big milestone on the PCT.

I started the Pacific Crest Trail at the southern terminus on April 14, 2017 and hiked all the way to Lone Pine which I reached on June 14. This section of the PCT primarily traverses high desert and carrying enough water is always a concern.

  • Part I begins here: Pacific Crest Trail Blog Day 1 – The Southern Terminus
    Last night I was too excited to sleep so I woke up tired. I had woken up in the middle of the night, so I got up at 3:00 am and wrote a letter to myself. In the letter, I gave myself a pep talk in case I get discouraged later on and want to quit the trail…

Highlights from this section of trail include summiting Mt. San Jacinto, summiting Mt. Baden-Powell, visiting Casa de Luna, hiking the L.A. Aqueduct, arriving at Kennedy Meadows and the epic underpants incident.

Pacific Crest Trail Blog Part II: Northern California

Ashland, OR to Sierra City, CA (Southbound)

 Tetris, Spider Mama and Hitch pose in front of Mount Shasta.
Tetris, Spider Mama and Hitch pose in front of Mount Shasta.
 Unicorn's Pacific Crest Trail Blog: Hanging out in the Sierra Buttes Wilderness.
Hanging out in the Sierra Buttes Wilderness.

Due to high snow pack on the PCT in 2017, my friends and I decided not to attempt to hike the High Sierras in June. So we flipped up to Ashland, OR on June 20 and started hiking southbound through northern California instead. I made it all the way south to Sierra City, CA when I had to leave the trail due to a medical issue.

  • Part II begins here: Pacific Crest Trail Blog Day 68 – Walking the Wrong Direction at Callahan’s
    Monarch and I started hiking southbound at Callahan’s near Ashland around 4:00 pm. And we started our hike by going the wrong way! We began by walking through a green forest with moss and plants we hadn’t seen yet on our journey. After a mile and half, we met some hikers coming the other way. We knew they planned to hike south also and were confused why they were going north…

Highlights of this section of trail include encountering snow at Mt. Ashland, hiking along Hat Creek Rim, making new friends in Seiad Valley, visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park, and hiking the Sierra Buttes.

Pacific Crest Trail Blog Part III: Northern California

Dunsmuir, CA to Seiad Valley, CA

 The Marble Mountain Wilderness in Northern California.
The Marble Mountain Wilderness in Northern California.
Unicorn's Pacific Crest Trail Blog: Hiking in the Marble Mountain Wilderness.
Hiking in the Marble Mountain Wilderness.

After spending some time off trail to recuperate, I returned to the Pacific Crest Trail on August 1, 2017. This time, I decided to pick up a section of trail that we skipped earlier in the summer due to heavy snow pack. My friends had already hiked this section when I was home sick, so I decided to tackle it solo.

  • Part III begins here: Pacific Crest Trail Blog Day 110 – Back on the trail in Dunsmuir
    Today I flew from Seattle to Medford Oregon, rode a bus from Medford to Weed California, and took another bus to Dunsmuir so I could get back to the PCT where I left off last month. After picking up some supplies, I hitch-hiked to the trailhead and finally arrived back on trail around 7:00 pm. Yay! It was so good to be back on the PCT after over two weeks off trail…

Highlights of this section of trail include running into Papa Joe Anderson from Casa de Luna, and hiking through the lovely Marble Mountain Wilderness.

Pacific Crest Trail Blog Part IV: Oregon/Washington

Ashland, OR to Carson, WA

 Mt. Hood at sunset in Oregon.
Mt. Hood at sunset in Oregon.
Unicorn's Pacific Crest Trail Blog: I've finally reached my home state!
I’ve finally reached my home state!

After picking up the section of trail in Northern California that I had skipped earlier in the year, I continued hiking northbound into Oregon. However, forest fires started spreading all across the trail and I had to skip several sections in Oregon due to closure. Eventually, I stopped after the Eagle Creek fire erupted near Cascade Locks and I decided to regroup.

  • Part IV begins here: Pacific Crest Trail Blog Day 121 – Pilot Rock to Hyatt Lake Recreation Area
    Long day today. My longest day yet, actually. I’m trying to beat my previous record (which was 21.7 miles) incrementally as I go so I can keep challenging myself. I’m liking Oregon so far. No dramatic scenery or rugged mountains yet, mostly forested trails with gentle elevation and smooth paths…

Highlights of this section of trail include hitting the half-way point on the PCT, hiking around Crater Lake at sunset, watching the 2017 eclipse on trail, hiking a 25-mile day, and reaching Mt. Hood.

Pacific Crest Trail Blog Part V: The High Sierras

Lone Pine, CA to Yosemite National Park

The view from Mount Whitney - the highest point in the contiguous United States.
The view from Mount Whitney – the highest point in the contiguous United States.
Unicorn's Pacific Crest Trail Blog: At the top of Forester Pass, the highest point on the PCT
I made it to Forester Pass – the highest point on the PCT!

With forest fires closing many sections of trail in Washington and Oregon, I returned to the High Sierras to hike the mountain range that John Muir famously dubbed “The Range of Light.”

  • Part V begins here: Pacific Crest Trail Blog Day 149 – Altitude Sickness in the High Sierras
    Last night I dreamt that I tried to summit Mt. Whitney several times, only to be mysteriously transported to the bottom of the mountain before I reached the top. One minute I was climbing the mountain and the next I was at the bottom, wondering how I got there. Apparently my anxiety about summiting the highest peak in the contiguous United States is expressing itself through my dreams…

Highlights of this section of trail include summiting Mt. Whitney, crossing Forester Pass, running into old friends at Muir Hut, enduring a surprise snowstorm in the Sierras, deciding to end my PCT hike at Yosemite National Park, and climbing Half Dome.

PCT 2017 Archives

An archive of all blogs from my 2017 thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail is available here:
PCT 2017 Archives

More Information

Interested in Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail? I recommend the following resources:

Unicorn's Pacific Crest Trail Blog: Monarch regards Mt. Lassen.
Monarch regards Mt. Lassen.

 

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Read Unicorn's account of her attempt to thru-hike the 2650-mile long Pacific Crest Trail. Learn how she planned and trained for the PCT as well as a daily journal of each day on the trail.

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