With their first post from the trail, the ‘Packing It Out’ crew gives an update on their mission to thru-hike the 2,600-mile PCT while collecting trash along the way.
Article written by Seth Orme, a ‘Packing It Out’ founder.
WITH MORE THAN 100 miles under our belts and our first week wrapping up, I think it’s safe to say that we are in love with the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s beautiful, challenging, and has already offered a variety of trash items to challenge the crew.
I’ve read some great books detailing the desert’s treasures. One such book was Edward Abbey’s “Desert Solitaire.” Abbey brings the reader into the landscape and he gave me a good visualization of what to expect from this environment.
But as we traverse north along the PCT, I’m in awe at the diversity of the desert.
Throughout the last seven days we’ve seriously discussed just changing the name of this environment to “dessert” rather than desert. From the variety of colorful plants, to the unforgettable smell of sage, this dish can be served hot or cold.
Experiencing the desert’s relentless dry heat and its unexpected showers have left us smiling and asking for more on a daily basis. Dessert it is.
So far, the trail has been an overwhelmingly good experience packaged with a slew of challenges. Most folks assume the desert is going to be boiling hot and dry, and for the most part it is just that. But the first couple of days were very similar to what we once saw in the Great Smoky Mountains. It was rainy, cold, and incredibly beautiful.
Other challenges of a journey include the unforeseeable. Sometimes being home with family is more important than the journey itself. For our good friend and stand-in photographer Nico, this was the case. Many times a journey of this magnitude will provide clarity and focus.
Nico joined the hike then quickly realized that flying halfway around the world wasn’t the solution he required. We hated to say goodbye, but what our friend needed was more than a trail family; he needed to be back with his family. It’s never easy losing a crew member, but the unknown is what makes an adventure what it is.
Some Serious Trash
How much trash do you think is on the PCT? This question was asked by almost everyone I spoke to before starting the trail. My answer, at this point more than 100 miles in, is: It would depend on where you’re at on the trail.
The idea that there might not be that much trash was quickly dropped after the first day.
We packed out 44 pounds of trash over the inaugural 20-mile section we hiked from Campo to Lake Morena. Five miles outside of Warner Springs we found old coolers full of trash and ended up packing out more than 60 pounds of trash in 15 miles.
The days in between these big hauls were more realistic in regard to trash, with numbers ranging from 7-9 pounds per day. As of right now, I think it’s safe to say there is definitely some trash to be packed out on the Pacific Crest Trail.
The Long Journey Ahead
As we progress north, we suspect the views will continue to be beautiful, that challenges will continue to present themselves daily, and that the amount of trash per mile will remain manageable.
We can’t thank everyone who supports us enough, especially the awesome folks who have helped us pack out trash already on the trail. We look forward to another week in the field and plan to update with our progress as we continue on the long journey north.
–Follow the crew on our ‘Packing It Out’ page. To date, the group has hiked 178.6+ miles from the U.S./Mexico border to Idyllwild, Calif. Connect with Paul, Seth, and Chris on Instagram, Twitter, and their blog.