The Math of Walking to Canada

Finishing the PCT before the snows start falling is part of the challenge.
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Finishing the PCT before the snows start falling is part of the challenge.
Tuolumne Meadows

Photo by Amanda Jameson.

Someone's started a fire in the fire pit on our second night out from Tuolumne Meadows, and beside it, my trail buddy Evac is sitting and doing some math. If, she says, we can do 15 miles a day through the rest of the Sierra, 25 through Oregon, and 20 through Washington, that'll put us in Canada on October 2nd. If we increase Oregon's numbers to 30 a day, that finds us finishing on September 22nd, she says. There's a bit of silence as we all freak out.

All the folks in the Wolfpack–my trail family on the PCT–are looking to get to Canada, but trying to enjoy themselves along the way. Even this morning, when I was talking about getting nervous, I was pretty much brushed off. Now, after the announcement, everyone seems to be feeling the pressure.

It would be less of a concern, but the beginning of October tends to be when the Washington snows start to roll in, and the less of that you can deal with, the better. I know two hikers who, in past years, got within 200 miles of the Canadian border only to get shut out by the weather. Even the early Washington snowstorms can be no joke, and it's anyone's guess when they'll start.

I'm told by veteran thru-hikers, though, that we're going to make it: We're doing just fine, provided we average 25 miles a day through Northern California and Oregon. It means hauling, but honestly, I'm feeling a bit done with the Sierra's forcibly small steps. I'm ready to stretch my legs, and see what this trail-trained body can do.