Pacific Crest Trail Offers Extremes in Both Weather and Terrain
“The Appalachian Trail is more difficult step-for-step, but the Pacific Crest Trail offers greater extremes.” That is the conventional wisdom. And unlike conventional wisdom on Wall Street, hiking community conventional wisdom is often correct.
Indeed the PCT traverses 703 miles of desert before even entering the ‘High Sierra’. While not actually on the PCT most thru-hikers do attempt to go up Mount. Whitney, the highest point in the Lower 48 at 14,480 feet. Thru-hikers camp out above 10,000 feet for several nights in a row. This is especially notable given that hikers are in the broiling heat of the desert–and not that far from Death Valley, the lowest point in the Lower 48–just a few days before.
Yes, hikers are not pulling your leg. The Pacific Crest Trail is a footpath of extremes. But they’re good extremes!
Bill Walker is the author of several popular hiking books, including Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail and Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail.