Top 5 Reasons You Won’t Finish the PCT

There are many ways you can prepare yourself for the trail. Even though I did not finish the Pacific Crest Trail myself I have some things that stopped me and how to fix them so that YOU can FINISH.

You’re about to trek 2,650 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail either NOBO or SOBO and you should be ready for that. Unfortunately the majority of us are not going to be ready to hike 15, 20, or 30 miles right out of the gate. You need to be aware of things that are physically wrong with you now, before the trail. Such as a weak ankle or bad shoulder. You need to know how your feet react to the shoes you’re going to be wearing. In essence you NEED to test your gear out before you go on the Pacific Crest Trail.

1. Shoes

There are so many aspects to picking the right shoes for you. In a nut shell you should just wear the kind of shoes you normally wear as far as ankle support, arch support and all that. If you know that your feet swell up then get a size up in what ever shoe you choose.

My feet were used to fairly minimal shoes and I switched to some cushy trail runners with arch support and it caused my feet to react differently resulting in minor plantar fasciitis. I tested out the trail runners before going on the PCT and that’s how I knew those weren’t right for me. Trail Runners are very popular for thru hiking for a good reason. If you do choose to get them make sure to acclimate your feet to them.

I started off wearing Lems Primal 2’s and did so for about 100 miles before my feet started aching and my toe started going a little numb. They were too minimal for me at the time for what kind of hiking I was doing.  Ultimately I ended wearing the Altra’s Lone Peak 2’s until I finished at Walker’s Pass about 650 miles in. I also made the mistake of hiking too many miles right out the gate. Which leads me to my next point.

2. Know Your Limits

I once heard a great saying on the trail from an experienced thru hiker named Legend:

“The trail is a race, the last one to finish wins.”

This really resonated with me after the trail. I was always so caught up in putting in miles so I could finish faster and not have to spend as much money, not carry as much food weight etc. Turns out that was a terrible idea that resulted in aching feet, knee problems, shin splints and not taking in everything around me as much as I should have.

To finish you should gradually build up miles and enjoy your self because it’s a trek of a lifetime. Don’t worry about how far or fast someone else is hiking. Your experience will turn into theirs and you don’t want that, you want your own experience.

3. Financial

On average it probably takes anywhere from $2,000-$5,000 depending on how many shoes you need, how gourmet you’ll be eating and how often you switch gear etc. throughout the trail.

Make sure you have enough funds in your bank account to cover it because this is one of the #1 causes of your trek coming to a cease. Have a business that allows you to have passive income. Make your money work for you. Ask friends or family for a buck or two. Most of all go get a job and save some money up and keep a budget per town.

I asked some companies to sponsor me to help me out during my journey and I did get some help which was awesome! Big shout out to these companies:

  • Primal Kitchen
  • Evo Hemp
  • Exo Bar
  • Mighty Organic

4. Physically Fit

This kind of goes along with shoes and knowing your limits. If you train before the trail you’ll likely be fine. Meaning go hike. There’s no better way to get fit for a particular activity than actually doing that specific activity. Obviously you’ll still want to build up into the miles because you’re definitely going to be getting trail fit out there. You can only build up your trail legs by hiking. It’s all about progression.

Here’s what I did:  I got a gym membership to Snap Fitness and did a lot of leg workouts to try to activate my glutes more. I stretched a ton, took some yoga classes and rolled out my calves a lot because of that pesky plantar fasciitis.

5. Mindset

If you can get a positive mindset before and during your hike you’ll finish. There are going to be tough times like missing your home, family, friends and pets but this is why you must stay strong and keep everything positive. It’s okay to rant and vent sometimes but just stay positive and realize you are doing something a lot of people would kill to do.

If you’d like to know more specifically what I did feel free to email me or Facebook message us on Mtn Talk. I hope this helps you finish your thru hike! Have fun out there!


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