Fastpacking the Pacific Crest Trail
Patagonia Customer Service Rep, Adam Bradley, aka “krudmeister,” aka “El Monstro” has been taking some time off this summer to do a little hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail. Before he left, we’d asked him if he wouldn’t mind sending updates. His reply: “Well, I guess, but I don’t know how much of a story there is to tell you. The trail’s the story. When it comes down to it, I’m just a guy out walking in the woods.”
This is all well and true, and many a person has hiked the PCT. But he left out a small detail: how FAST he’s walking through those woods. He’s been on the trail now for a little over a month and recently sent word about his progress. 45 days, 18 hours, 27 minutes, and 45 seconds to be exact. Most folks take somewhere between 150 – 180 days to cover the PCT's 2650 miles, so by day 45 they might find themselves somewhere around, say, Agua Dulce, CA – still quite a hump from the southern tip of the 400+ mile-long Sierra Nevada. So we had to double-check to make sure we heard The Mighty Krud correctly. He’d just told us the Sierra Nevada were a memory at this point, and he was entering Oregon with 1720 miles already behind him.
Here’s some excerpts from the trail journal he’s been keeping of this year’s hike:
This year is different than last year for me . . . I have actually trained for this. . . .[but] training aside, I don't think there is really anything that can prep oneself for being on your feet 14hrs a day for 65 days. Of course I am referring to the mental aspect of the walk, which is about 90% of it. The up side is that I have done it before, so unlike last year there isn't the unknown factor. I also understand the pace of the first 35 days. But the first 700 miles of the PCT in my opinion are grim. I couldn't ever walk that section again if I didn't have a goal like this to spur me on.
Hit the jump for more excerpts, or click here to check out them out in their entirety:
[Top, Adam Bradley (aka krudmeister) on his way through the dry lands of Southern California. Bottom, food for the soul at the end of a long day on the trail. Photos: Adam Bradley]
The reasons I choose to walk fast are these: 1. It allows me to confront my inner demons. 2. I like the simplicity of the walk and the goal oriented structure of my daily life on a journey like this. 3. I like seeing what I can push myself to do. I had no idea what I was capable of. 4. I believe I actually experience the trail more. 5. I get to spend a lot of time working on focusing my attention. So after todays post there will not be any other mention of speed records, etc. It will be my travelogue nothing more. . . . In my opinion there would be [no speed records] if it wasn't for the trails. So in all honesty I think the story is more about the trail not the record. Without the PCT there would be no PCT speed records to speak of. How does a trail like the PCT come into being? By thousands of hours annually of volunteers time, sweat, and dedication. It isn't something that came into being by a act of congress alone. Last year I gave thanks to all the trail angels who stock water caches, get hikers out to begin their walks, maintain sections of the trail... It is no small feat and I am thankful for their hard work.
We are also fortunate enough to live in a country where we have long distance trails. . . . I am very fortunate to live as a person of relative wealth (in a global sense) in a country filled with long distance trails.
One last comment on the style of my trip. In the past there has been a lot of confusion as to what “unsupported” means. It will mean different things to different hikers. To me it means no outside support which would enhance how fast a hiker covers miles. That would mean no slackpacking (giving your pack to someone else so you may hike without one), no trail magic that I have arranged, and most importantly every resupply must be walked to. No hitching. That way my feet never leave the earth.
I will make use of water caches and trail magic that is on trail for all hikers, but none that I have pre arranged. Anything I can walk to that any other hiker can walk to is acceptable in town. I make this clear for anyone else who would like to attempt a similar endeavor, I don't want there to be any confusion on style. This also means that every step of the PCT must be walked to set a record. Not a record shy 20 miles of trail, or hundreds for that matter.
All that being said though, there is no record that sums up my experience. There is no plaque that can confer what I have learned. I walk for myself. So that is about all I have on that. I would like to note that every day on trail when I get up and go in the AM I bow my head in prayer to the south, then to the north. I feel a deep reverence for the trail and I believe the trail has teachings to impart to those willing to pay attention. I also feel when I do this that I am bowing to all the others on trail who are walking it too. I think we are a different breed from folks who don't walk the long walks. We have chosen to spend our summers living simply, by wise old streams. We have chosen to listen to songs of birds and sleep with our backs against the earth. This is a community I am proud to be a part of.
[After hundreds of miles of mountains, forests, and wild vistas, the starts to see urban images with a different significance. Above, a sign warns of one of the more unpleasant consequences of careless hiking on the PCT. Bottom, what could each of these folks be thinking about each other? krudmeister & company pull out of Agua Dulce. Photos: Adam Bradley]
ED NOTE: Our deepest apologies to krudmeister, as we've just been informed that he completed the California section of the PCT in 42 days, 18 hours, 27 minutes, and 45 seconds - three days faster than the time indicated above.