(Yes, I know I’m going through the Survey and typing out the same stats. This post is just for my friends and family to understand the trail better)
With 2020 in the books as a year where a small number of people completed the trail. I’m focusing my research on the 2019 class. You can view the survey results here. What a tremendous resource this blog is and the work he puts in is incredible with helping people get ready for the PCT.
Here is some stats of the class of 2019 who submitted 846 completed surveys.
60% are male and 40% are female. Most hikers shown below are in the 23-35 range. About 10% are in my older age range. 15% are in Chantal’s age range. Most of the hikers are from North America and Europe mostly. (Germany, France, and England make up most of the participants from Europe). From the people in the United States, most live in California, Oregon, and Washington since it’s close to home and the trail would be more “top of mind” to them with people they know that hiked it or wanted to hike it as a bucket-list thru-hike. 67% of hikers in the survey are from the States and Canada is 6%, Germany 6%, UK 5%, Australia 3.6%, and France at 2%.
First long-distance hike? 68% Yes and 32% have done one before. Basically the same percentage for the 2020 class at 71%/29%
Of the people who have hiked before. 11% was the Appalachian Trail, 6.5% the John Muir Trail, 6% The Camino de Santiago Trail, and a bunch of other trails. 3.5% was the PCT making it another run for them.
Training: 63% of people said they trained before doing it. People rated themselves as being in shape from 1-10 and they rated themselves a 6/10. Of the people who completed the entire trail, they rated themselves 6.26, and the people who did not finish averaged rating themselves as 5.92 with being in shape.
64% of the class started out hiking solo. 17.6% began with a partner/spouse, 15% began with a friend, 3% started with hikers they didn’t know prior to starting and just started at the beginning together. Of first time thru-hike hikers, 63% of them started alone hiking solo. About 50% of hikers did the trip solo and didn’t really bunch up and hike with someone along the way. Most people had sections they hiked with someone for a bit of it. About 50% of the hikers camped mostly alone. (Some people camp alone and they simply catch up to people that hike the same pace as them.
Of the people who started with someone… 61% of people kept hiking with that same person the entire trail. 14% felt it wasn’t for the best. 2% of couples that started hiking broke up along the trail. 1% of friends who started together decided not to be friends anymore.
When people began hiking… were they in a relationship? 47% no, and they remained single. 42%, Yes… and they are with the same person. 6% started off single and found someone on the trail and started a relationship with them. 4% of hikers started in a relationship and ended up single at the end.
100% of hikers got a hiking permit from the PCTA. 81% of people started their hike on the date they got on their permit. Since you go online to apply for a permit and pick your starting date. 66% of the people got the date they wanted. About 10% was plus/minus by 2 days. 13% was within 5 days of the date they wanted. 11% was unhappy with their date.
Start Dates: Way back when… people really didn’t know what would be a good start date for hiking NOBO (Northbound) or SOBO. Now people have shared start dates and people have analyzed how fast people usually go. Only about 50 Northbound permits are given out each day to help with congestion from the Mexican border. Safe to say the full month of April and May would go first for people travelling NOBO. Depending on the amount of snow that fell in the Sierra Mountains each year would dictate what could be a good starting date so it changes from year to year.
April 15th was the NOBO’s average starting date.
April 23rd was the average NOBO start date that they were happy with starting around that date. April 4th was the average date hikers started that expressed that they wished they started later.
May 11th was the average date NOBO hikers started that expressed feelings they wish they started earlier.
June 10th was the average date hikers reached Kennedy Meadows and the gateway into the Sierra Mountains.
12.6 miles / 20 km was the NOBO average daily distance from Mexico to Kennedy Meadows.
April 13th was the average date NOBO hikers started who didn’t complete the PCT and April 17th was the average start date NOBO hikers started who finished the entire PCT.
September 19th was the average date NOBO hikers reached Canada.
155 days on average it took NOBO hikers to complete the PCT. SOBO hikers averaged 129 days to complete the PCT.
We are hiking NOBO so won’t summarize the SOBO stats. But June 27th is the average start date hiking the PCT Southbound. November 3rd is the average date SOBO hikers finish the PCT in Campo, California at the Mexican border.
More hiking statistics:
Of the 152 days on average it takes to hike the PCT, the average hiker hiked 135 days not counting zeros. The average longest day hiked came out to 40.8 miles / 65 km’s. Wow.
The daily average distance hiked each day came out at 20.2 miles per day.
The average hiker took 18 zero days on the trail and 15 nero days (hiking small number of miles since most of the day was in town running errands or resting.
80% of the hikers said they would do another Thru-Hike again. Of the people who completed the entire PCT, 72% said they would hike another Thru-Hike. 92% of the people who didn’t finish said they would try again with another Thru-Hike.
Note: 2019 was a high snow year in the Sierra Mountains. Therefore having 34% of people hiking NOBO skipped a section makes sense with skipping the Sierra Mountains and then coming back for it to finish when the snow has melted a bit more and the rivers are safe to cross. Of the people who flipped, 85% was due to snow and about 5% was due to personal logistics and about 4% was due to injury.
Mt. Whitney: 44% went off trail to hike to the summit of this mountain.
Of the people who did not make it to the other border to complete the trail. 30% had to quit to injury, 25% due to personal reasons, 22% due to snow, 6% family, 5% work, 5% financial, 3% Illness, 2% Visa, 1% School and Fires.
Number of miles completed by those who had to quit. 10% less than 500 mi, 20% 500-1000 mi, 20% 1000-1500 mi, 23% 1500-2000 and 2% over 2000 of the 2453 miles of the PCT.
The average miles hiked before having to quit was 1361 miles.
73% of hikers seen a black bear, 44% Elk, 35% Fox, 46% Mountain Goat, 13% Mountain Lion, 43% Owl, 92% Rattlesnake, 17% Skunk.
The amount of resupply’s over the entire trail is 28 times.
The average amount of days between resupply was 5 days. The average number of boxes prepared before starting the trail was 4 boxes. Most people grocery shop in town for the next leg. 95% of people mailed some resupply boxes in the towns where trail food was hard to come by or expensive in town. Some towns were hard to find a hitch to.
Here are the towns that hikers recommend mailing resupply to yourself. Stehekin-W, Crater Lake National Park-O, Sierra City-C, Stevens Pass/Skykomish-W, White Pass-W, Snoqualmie Pass-W, Kennedy Meadows-C, Big Lake Youth Camp-O, Agua Dulce-C, Warner Springs-C, Seiad Valley-C, Timberline Lodge-O, Shelter Cove Resort-O, Belden-C, Kennedy Meadows North-C
14% of hikers went stoveless on the hike and coldsoaked and ate stuff they didn’t have to cook.
The changes hikers said they would make regarding their resupply strategy if they could do it over was 20% wanted more variety in boxes, 20% wanted healthier food, 20% would send fewer boxes, 20% would make boxes from the trail and pack things they wanted to eat as their preferences changed during the hike. 13% would send less food in boxes.
Therefore, the places where you deffinetly should send a box is Stehekin, Crater Lake National Park, Sierra City, Stevens Pass, White Pass, Snoqualmie Pass, Kennedy Meadows, Big Lake Youth Camp.
$6,561USD was the average amount spent on the hike for the hikers in 2019. That’s 8,600CAD converted.
$38.68USD was spent on average per day on the hike. That’s $51.72 in Canadian.
$1,477USD was spent on gear on average.
17.78 lbs was the average pre-hike base weight.
15 lbs was the average post-hike base weight.
55 liters was average backpack size
17 degrees F was the average sleeping bag rating.
4.65 pairs of shoes were worn of people completing the trail.
Fave PCT sections were in order:
Fave sections were:
58% Goat Rocks Wilderness in Washington
47% – The John Muir Trail in the Sierra’s
45% Kings Canyon National Park in the Sierra’s
37% North Cascades National Park in Washington
26% Glacier Peak Wilderness in Washington
Least Fave PCT section:
Specifically the least fave sections were:
46% Southern Oregon
43% Belden to Burney Falls in Northern California
32% The Aqueduct in the Desert
30% Mojave/Tehachapi to Walker Pass in the Desert
16% Southern Washington
Fear, Regret and Advice:
What hikers in the survey would do different:
30% gotten lighter gear. Of the people who said that, the average baseweight for them was 21.77 pounds before starting the trail.
26% saved more money beforehand
26% Trained more
15% Gone on more practice hikes
14% Planned less.
During their hike, what would they have done differently:
52% taken more photos of people
21% journaled more
20% taken fewer zero days ( 22 days was the average of zero’s those people took who wished they taken fewer.
18% spent less time in town
16% slowed down more on their hikes