PCT Itinerary

As an introduction, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650 mile trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through three states: Washington, Oregon and California.  The trail traverses some exciting terrain including the Mojave Desert, the Seirra Nevada and Mt. Whitney, Yosemite National Park, the Russian Wilderness in Northern California and the Cascade Mountain Range (Crater Lake, Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood).  The PCTA (Pacific Crest Trail Association) website has a great overview and detailed descriptions of each section of the trail.  They also list some little-known trivia about the trail, my favorite being that fewer people have thru-hiked the PCT (hiking the entire length of the trail in one season) than have climbed Mt. Everest! (weather this is true or not, I'd like to think it is)

  Below is my planned itinerary for my PCT hike including town stops, approximate dates and PO shipping addresses for resupplying.  While it is common for PCT hikers to mail themselves (or have others mail) resupply packages at 20-25 points along the trail, others have decided that resupplying in towns alone can fill their needs.  There are advantages to both:  sending food and supplies to points corresponding to every 5 to 8 days of travel gives you predictable and reliable points of resupply.  You can plan your food purchases in the beginning, often at much cheaper prices, instead of spending time in towns shopping.  You can include prepared foods such as home-dehydrated soups and stews and store-purchased specialty items that are hard to find in small towns such as Mountain House freeze-dried backpacking food.

However, relying solely on pre-planned supply packages has the disadvantage of removing some of the spontaneity from your trip, as you would be forced to a pre-planned schedule of town stops and a pre-planned menu that may or may not meet your changing needs or cravings on the trail.  Another challenge is that Post Offices are usually closed on Sundays and holidays and they often have limited hours on other days of the week, depending on the location, which can cause a forced lay-over day if you happen to arrive in town during the off hours.  In addition mailing packages can be expensive enough to out-weigh the savings advantage of buying in bulk before your hike.

Due to these considerations and others, I have decided on a blended approach.  I will send food and supplies to nine locations along the trail, being sure to include only foods not easily found or prepared along the trail, such as home-dehydrated soups, chili, fruit and pasta.  I will also include essential gear for the high Sierra and replacement cooking fuel in these packages.  In between these locations, I will supplement by purchasing trail food in markets and convenience stores in the large towns such as Ashland, OR and Independence, CA.  This blended approach should allow me the flexibility to adapt my diet as my tastes and needs change while at the same time providing the nutrition I know that I will need from my home prepared meals.  In the larger towns, I can also stock-up at the grocery stores and forward packages to upcoming smaller towns that may not have the same selection of fresh foods I will need.

My 2012 PCT Itinerary - Click to see full-size

For family or friends who wish to send care packages (ideally consumable light-weight food products such as freeze-dried meals found at outdoor supply stores such as REI, sweet, high-calorie snacks, granola, peanut/almond butter, dried fruit, Starbucks VIA freeze-dried coffee, etc... ), please note that I will only be picking up at the (P) locations.  If you send to an S location, please notify me through this blog, which I will be checking periodically, so I will know to pick up the package.  Most Post Offices will hold a package for up to two weeks or more if you label them as General Delivery and include "PLEASE HOLD FOR PCT HIKER" in the lower left corner along with an approximate pick-up date.  Here is an example:

Russell Mease
C/O General Delivery
Post Office
Warner Springs, CA 92086


Approximate Pick-Up Date:  ___________________

For an easy way to print labels for the below locations, visit the Pacific Crest Trail Association website where you can punch in your name and address and click on a list of locations and a form will pop-up containing the completed mailing label.  This site will also let you know of fees associated with holding packages at these locations.  (avoid sending packages to Red's Meadows!)

The above itinerary was accomplished with help from Craig Griffin's online PCT Planner.  This is an extremely helpful tool that allows you to plan out your hike using a number of variables including starting and ending destinations, hiking speed, layover days, town stops and elevation changes and the program spits out a detailed report of your itinerary.  This program is FREE so I recommend anybody planning a long distance PCT hike to make use of this tool.

In addition to this tool, I am relying on the three Wilderness Press PCT Guidebooks on the Pacific Crest Trail; one each for Southern California, Northern California and both Oregon and Washington.  These contain complete trip topo maps as well as all the basic planning information for a long-distance hike; either a thru-hike or a section hike.  Check out the PCTA website for a complete list of these and other planning materials for your hike.


  1. Did you pass through a homestead area that had a shrine and stations of the cross. A hiker left some writing on a yellow brick which was a fun discovery today. I was wondering if it might be you, Craig.
    Reply at voyageklg@att.net

    1. Hi Craig, Where was this exactly? I am probably not the person as I did not write on anything while I was on the trail. Thanks for reading!


PCT Northern Terminus

PCT Northern Terminus
On September 30, 2012 I reached the Northern Terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. Thanks to everybody who supported and followed my journey. It was a life-changing experience!