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Pacific Crest Trail

From Mexico to Canada or reverse, a crest of mountains follows along the western states of the USA, washed by the Pacific waters—it's one of the world's most scenic natural corridors


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How long do you think it could take you to thru-hike the distance of 4,279 kilometres? And if a large part of the lengthy route is lying at serious elevations overrunning 4,000 meters above sea level? That's all about Pacific Crest Trail that stretches from the US and Mexico border through three westernmost America states of California, Oregon, and Washington to borderline with Canada.

The northward hike is more popular. It begins at California's Campo and the ultimate point is located close to the edge of Manning Park, in British Columbia. The trail lies far from civilisation, it's largely mountainous, with a few roads, highly demanding, yet also rewardingly scenic—it passes through 25 national forests and seven national parks. California's part is the largest and it runs across the Laguna, Santa Rosa, San Jacinto, San Bernardino, San Gabriel, Liebre, Tehachapi, Sierra Nevada, Klamath ranges, and a bit of the Cascade Range, that is mostly stretched over Oregon and up till the northernmost Washington.

The reverse (southward) route is also chosen by many. Regardless of which direction you choose, the timing is quite a problem. The optimal period necessary to thru-hike the entire route is 6 to 8 months provided that you daily cover about 32 kilometres, as an average hiker. However, there is one main obstacle—the season is too short for such a moderate tempo—you have to start the hike when the snow has mostly melted and avalanches pose no threat any longer, that's the month of May. If you chose the northward hike, it's important to leave the North Cascades by mid-September, if you don't fancy snowstorms, avalanches, or hypothermia.

The trail was initiated by Clinton Churchill Clarke in 1932. But the first thru-hiker who made a single both-way trip along the Pacific Crest was Scott Williamson. In November 2004, he hiked the total of 8,530 kilometres at an average pace of 43 kilometres per day for 197 days, but he managed to do that only on his fourth attempt.

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