The Pacific Northwest Trail

A version of this article appears on The Trek, which you can read here

I remember as a kid seeing a North Country Trail sign while hiking on Lake Superior. I asked my uncle where the trail went and when he said “New York to North Dakota” the idea of hiking that far both baffled and enticed me.

Since then thru-hiking a long trail has always been in the back of my mind as “something to do someday” but I never really had a plan (or time) on how to do it. Then 3 years ago when I was laid up with a broken ankle I stumbled across the book “Grizzly Bears and Razor Claims” by Chris Townsend. I devoured it. The Pacific Northwest Trail resonated with me: rugged, rough, remote. I became somewhat (ok, totally) obsessed with the idea of hiking it.

And just over a month from now I’ll be starting the PNT. Hell. Yes.


Why the PNT?

The PNT has all the things I love about backpacking: navigation challenges, undeveloped sections, bushwacking and solitude. The length is perfect for my 3 month timeframe, the trail typically takes 2-3 months. These are the reasons why I’m choosing the PNT over some of the more popular trails like the AT or PCT. Plus, I love the scenery and the vibe of the Pacific Northwest and am excited to spend the summer walking across it.  

Having a lot of experience backpacking I’m confident in my backcountry skills, but that’s not to sound naive. According the PNTA less than 300 people have completed the trail since its inception in 1977. It’s going to be tough. Really tough. It will test me. It might even break me. All part of the adventure. Let’s do this.