Basic Advice for Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hikers

Posted by on January 8, 2013 in Pacific Crest Trail, Skywalker--Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail | 2 comments

Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail

My most basic advice for an aspiring thru-hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail is twofold:

First, regardless of how strange it seems, you must buy a pair of low-cut trail running shoes that are at least one size larger than normal. The surface in the desert is so scalding that your feet will turn into kangaroo feet. And please, under no circumstances wear boots. The thought of boots in the desert (and resulting silver dollar-sized blisters) is truly gut wrenching. Please do yourself this favor.

But an even better favor you could do yourself would be to attend the annual Pacific Crest Trail Kickoff Party held the last weekend of April in Lake Morena County State Park, 21 miles north of the California-Mexico border. Thru-hikers traditionally hike to this party in one day. This party is thrown by ex- thru-hikers who not only feed the current year’s class copiously, but also give seminars on relevant topics (water reports in the desert, snow levels in the ‘High Sierra’, bears, etc.). Better yet, it is a great butterfly killer and ice breaker; many people meet long-term hiking partners at the PCT Kickoff.

Don’t miss this great event. Along with Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia, it is the marquee event in the hiking community.

Bill Walker is the author of Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also author of Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail, as well as ‘The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago’ (2012). Walker, who is just shy of 7-feet tall, is currently working on a whimsical book on the subject of height.


  1. thank you skywalker i met you a few years back at trail days in damascus virginia i was one of those who had to learn the hard way when it came down to boots now i where nothing but rrail runners thanks again skywalker by the way if you know anybody going to the kickoff that is passing thru los angelas i can contribute for gas money goodluck to all walkingman my e mail address is

    • Chris,

      Glad you got your shoe problems straightened out. As for Trail Days, that’s a heckuva’ hike from L.A.
      Of course we hikers are expert hitchhikers (especially the ladies!). But honestly, I just don’t know
      anybody. Hope you make it.

      Good Luck,


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