PCT: 10 things I’ve learned from the first 1000 miles of PCT hiking

The desert

Ten things I’ve learned from hiking the first 1000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail that are applicable to life both on the trail and off the trail. Now that I’ve hiked over 1000 miles on this PCT thru-hike attempt, what have I learned?

The first five things I’ve learned from hiking 1000 miles on the PCT

  1. Focusing too far ahead on a upcoming section of the trail often results in my tripping on the trail that’s presently under my feet. I must be present focused.
The PCT trail in Southern California
Following the trail is easy…sometimes

2. Each hiker is on their own journey. I have no idea why you hike 45 miles a day and you have no idea why I hike 20. No one at home cares if we walk five miles a day or fifty. No one on the trail really cares either. We each hike our own hike.

3. Ultimately, you will end up hiking alone a great deal of the time. Groups of hikers bunched up together and having a conversation on the trail are the exception, not necessarily the rule. Solitude is the norm on the trail, be prepared for it.

4. The same meals, over and over, become quite tedious. I expect that at any moment I will poop out a complete peanut butter and honey burrito. Variety is key.

5. Day hikers smell wonderful. I breath deep and enjoy the smell of civilization with the dawning recognition that even though I can’t smell myself anymore.

The second set of five things I’ve learned from hiking 1000 miles on the PCT

6. Great vistas from higher elevations often equate to cell service. Just saying.

7. I must be flexible. The trail, the hikers, and the weather can all change rapidly. I need to be able to adjust with my changing environment.

8. Lose 20 or 30 pounds of body fat before becoming obsessed with gear and pack weight because it’s easy to swap out gear on the trail.

Because it’s easy to swap out gear at a trail town, focus on losing the 20 or 30

9. The trail can give you what you seek. Solitude? Check. A party in every trail down? Absolutely! Weed delivery via drone? You betcha! The trail is what you make it.

Our family

10. Ultimately almost every single hiker has a remote support team. Someone who sends prepackaged food, gear, home made cookies, etc. I can choose to do these actions of my own, but it’s much more difficult and less rewarding for both myself and those that care about me.

Time for rest after a day of hiking


When I look closely at the ten things I’ve learned from hiking the first 1000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail I find that they all transition into normal everyday “off the trail life”.

See you on the trail-


  1. Becky Rooks

    I am a bit concerned that my link only has nine items, must be that I need to learn number ten on my own? Not hiking 1000 miles anytime soon though. Congratulations on the strength you possess.

  2. Anonymous

    Steve, You look AMAZING! Dad


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