from Mexico to Canada in 5 months 8 days

It’s the journey that counts … 

Tristan Oliver

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Pacific Crest Trail Map

The Pacific Crest Trail

Many people have asked me if I am training for this. ( I wrote this before I started the hike; I did complete it in one go.)  The answer is yes, but I consider it more like preparation. There are many aspects that require my attention and there has been a learning curve in striking a balance between preparation and flexibility. 

Most of my time has been spent working so that I am financially free to do this, and researching. Researching gear, the trail, logistics, food, costs, other hiker’s experiences, etc. I have found the trail journals to be the most valuable resource as they allow me to see what mistakes previous hikers made and what they would do differently next time. They also offer a window into the mental and physical challenges day in and day out.

Mentally I am confident and as prepared as I can imagine for agonizing times but the real test will be on the trail. Physically I am confident in my strength and endurance, but again, the day after day demand on my body will be unknown until I am well on my way. As a swimmer, jogger, and bike rider I am well-conditioned.  An active lifestyle lends itself to being well prepared for a multitude of challenges. My focus is not on getting into any kind of peak shape, but in being able to keep an average 20 mile per day pace. Ultimately the hike itself will be what conditions me. What I want my body to get used to is the weight and strain of a pack while hiking. I am aiming for a base weight (everything but food and water) of 15 lbs. 

I have the luxury of eating almost whatever I want now as much of the hike will find me burning more calories than I consume. Therefore, I will be resupplying mostly along the trail with supplemental packages mailed to me. This will give me flexibility in choices as well as freshness. Cooking dinner at home with just one pot and trying different meals has been interesting. The rice-a-roni boxes are easy and filling. So is basic pasta. 

A good deal of time was spent researching trail shoes. It seemed critical to me that I get it right from the beginning. Luckily, I had two excellent running stores to go to. Both diagnosed me as a neutral runner with slight pronation and a high arch. I bought the Brooks Cascadia Trail Running shoes with inserts and have worn them every single day since December. They feel great. I run in them and have hiked in them and I am very happy so far.

I am already knowledgeable in first aid, orienteering, and survival but I plan to enroll in an ice axe fall arrest / snow skills course for the high Sierras. I would rather be prepared and confident and not use it than to take a chance. I will have a GPS tracking device in case of emergencies and for the peace of mind of loved ones. Much to the dismay of some well-meaning (if not misinformed) friends, I will NOT be carrying a machete, cross-bow, bullwhip, chinese throwing stars, rifle or handgun. I will take my chances fending off any predators with my charm, hiking poles, knife and B.O.


Listen to the interview with Tristan by Pacific Outdoors