In 2019, I posted a summary of my Appalachian Trail thru-hike statistics and expenses. In 2022, I thru-hiked the PCT and now I am presenting the summary of that hike.
Wondering how the PCT and A.T. differ? See the post I made comparing my experiences on both trails.
My hike started May 2, after spending a the night before with famous trail angels Scout and Frodo. I had to leave the trail at Donner Pass on July 3 and didn’t resume my hike until August 1, so I decided to convert my NOBO hike to a flip-flop hike with two flips. On August 1, I started hiking north from Cascade Locks, finishing at the northern terminus on August 22, just ahead of the landslide that closed the road to Mazama from Harts Pass and days before wildfires would close the last miles of the trail. After making my way to Portland, I spent a night with friends and then started hiking south from Cascade Locks on August 25. I finished at Donner Pass on October 5. Amazingly, all the fire closures from earlier in the season and prior seasons magically opened up for me right before I arrived and I managed the rare feat of hiking every trail mile with no closures. I feel incredibly fortunate.
Given the strange nature of my hike, with almost an entire month off, the statistics will be a bit unusual. To simplify the counting of days and calculating average miles, I am just excluding the month off trail but will otherwise count zeros and neros that I took during my actual hiking periods.
Want to track your own thru-hike? I am making the spreadsheet I used to track my hike and generate all of the statistics found in the post available for you to use. It’s a Google sheet so you can use it on your mobile phone each night in camp, even in offline mode and it will sync up whenever you get online. I originally made this after my A.T. thru-hike but I significantly improved it after my PCT thru-hike and it now allows you to choose one of the Triple Crown trails or create your own customized trail. It also allows you to track a flip-flop or multi-section thru-hike.
NOTE: Please do not ask for permission to edit the sheet. Instead, use the ‘File’ menu and choose the ‘Make a Copy’ option (if using the mobile app, click the 3 dots at the top right, then click ‘Share & export’ and you will see the ‘Make a copy’ option). This will keep the main sheet clean and safe for all to make a copy from.
Breaking Down My Hike: Key Statistics
Here’s a quick look at total distance and time needed. The Off-Trail Days row refers to the time I spent completely away from the trail attending to personal issues. Excluding that, I took a zero, on average, every 10 hiking days, though actually I did all my “real” zeros in California (9) with the other three representing days I spent transiting from one section of trail to another.
|Total Days less Off-Trail Days||129|
|Zeros (0-Mile Days – Off-Trail Days)||12|
|Total Hiking Days||117|
|Total Weeks (minus zeros)||16.7|
|Total Months (minus zeros)||3.9|
There are multiple ways to slice and dice distances. Below is a look at how many days I spent doing different amounts of miles / kilometers.
|Daily Distance Ranges||Miles (# of Days)||Kms (# of Days)|
|“Marathon” days (26.2+ Mile days)||40|
For those who prefer metric…
And here are averages and maximums.
|Per day (minus zeros)||22.7||36.5|
|Per week (minus zeros)||158.8||255.4|
|Per month (minus zeros)||680.4||1094.8|
|Maximum distance in one day||32.9||52.9|
|Maximum distance in one week||207.4||333.7|
|Distance covered days 1-30||540.3||869.3|
|Distance covered days 31-60||585.4||941.9|
|Distance covered days 61-90*||46.8||75.3|
|Distance covered days 91-120||706.7||1137.1|
|Distance covered days 121-150||716.4||1152.7|
|Distance covered days 151-180||57.7||92.8|
Here’s a simple graph showing the daily mileage progress. My 28 days off trail are evident in the flat section.
Below is a graph of my daily mileage with the running average and the running 7-day average overlaid.
For those who prefer metric…
Here is a look at how long it took me to do each 100-mile stretch. Since I didn’t start and stop exactly on 100 mile markers, these are calculations and thus not exact, but still somewhat interesting. Excluding my extended time off trail, the longest stretch of 100 miles was 8 days and the shortest 3 days.
|Miles Ranges||Days||Ending Mile|
Days and Pace per Section & State
Here’s a breakdown of days (total, hiking, and zeros) and average daily distance covered per section and state. These numbers are approximate as some days I may have hiked in two different states.
|Section Statistics||Miles||Total Days||Zeros||Hiking Days||Miles/Day||Kms/Day|
Something I tracked for my PCT thru-hike that I didn’t track for my A.T. hike was my start and stop time and amount of break time each day (or, most days). Here’s what that looked like on average per section, where hiking time is stop time – start time – time spent on breaks.
|PCT Section||Hiking Time|
Breakdown of Sleeping Situation
I spent a total of 129 nights across four different sleep situations. My tent was my primary sleep setup and I used it 91% of the time. Other days mostly represent nights spent at trail angels’ homes. I only cowboy camped twice; it just didn’t excite me the way it does most other PCT hikers.
|Sleep Situation||# Days||% of Days|
Elevation Profile Details
To know how difficult a day’s hike will be you need to consider not just distance but also the elevation profile. Here’s a breakdown of how the ups and downs played out during my 117 hiking days. I averaged around 4,100 feet up and 4,000 feet down per day with the maximum gain exceeding 7,000 feet and the maximum loss exceeding 11,000 feet (on the day I went up and down San Jacinto). That worked out to 180 feet of gain per mile and 173 feet of loss per mile.
|Elevation Gain Stats||Feet||Meters|
|Total Elevation Gain||476,550||145,252|
|Elevation Gain per Trail Day||4,073||1,241|
|Elevation Gain per mile||179.6||54.7|
|Highest day of elevation gain||7,014||2,138|
Here’s a graph showing my personal elevation gain profile with the running average and weekly average overlaid.
And here’s a look at the gains in 1000-foot ranges. I had 34 days that exceeded 5,000 feet in gain (which I consider a pretty strenuous day of hiking). Looking at 4,000+ feet, that number jumps to 65 days.
|Elevation Gain Ranges (Feet)||Days|
Let’s look at the loss profile as well.
|Total Elevation Loss||459,179||139,958|
|Elevation Loss per Trail Day||3,925||1,196|
|Elevation Loss per mile||173.0||52.7|
|Highest day of elevation loss||11,078||3,377|
And here’s a look at the loss in 1000-foot ranges. I had 28 days that exceeded 5,000 feet in loss. Looking at 4,000+ feet, that number jumps to 53 days.
|Elevation Loss (Feet)||Days|
And here is a look at the elevation profile of my daily stops (i.e., the elevation I slept at each night).
For the PCT, I tracked some statistics that I didn’t track on the A.T. I was more diligent about tracking some than others, but here’s a rough breakdown of them.
|Experiences||# Days||% Days|
|10 by 10 (10 miles hiked before 10 AM)||25||21.4%|
|Food / Drink||59||50.4%|
|Fall / Injury||12||10.3%|
Here are a few more that are quantity-based rather than just a count of days. My spreadsheet has a column to track the number of liters of water per day but I was really bad about tracking it (partly because I could rarely remember how many I drank each day). I cold soak so I didn’t buy any canisters of fuel.
|Bonus (Off-Trail) Miles||75.8|
|Fuel Canisters Purchased||0|
Budget & Expenses Summary
Below I will go into details, but with gear, my total thru-hike expenditure was $8,298.65 or $64.33 per day. Averaging over the hike (hiking days + zeros), that equated to $34.53 daily for expenses ($4,454.83 total), $22.65 daily for gear I bought before the hike ($2,921.33), and $7.15 daily for gear that I bought during my hike ($922.49 total).
Thinking about it in per-mile terms my overall cost was $3.13 per mile ($1.94 per km) while my gear costs were $1.45 per mile ($0.90 per km) and my food and other expenses were $1.68 per mile ($1.04 per km).
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of my expenses.
Although I wasn’t new to long distance hiking, I had to buy almost all my gear new for this hike because (1) I switched from a hammock to tent; (2) my A.T. sleeping pad and quilt weren’t warm enough; (3) I needed a new backpack; and (4) I bought some new things to lower my base weight and dial in my gear. Considering that, I think my $2,921 total isn’t too bad.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of what I spent based on the kind of gear. I didn’t create a Lighterpack list for this hike and my base weight fluctuated as I swapped out gear on the trail, but it was generally around 12-14 pounds.
I spent $922 on gear while I was on the trail. About half of that was for shoes. Most of the rest was for clothing (I think I replaced or swapped almost all my clothing, even my gaiters). I also had some miscellaneous new and replacement purchases (I lost a knife, replaced my mini tripod and pillow, etc.).
Here’s a breakdown of my pre-hike purchases by type of gear.
There you have a detailed look at my PCT thru-hike experience in numbers. No two hikers are alike so I don’t know how similar your experience will be to mine, but hopefully seeing my numbers will be of some value to you. Good luck with your hike!
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