We turn off the trail here after 7 days of walking to catch the train to Inverness and our return to London. Hard hiking in the beautiful Western Highlands. Wonderful weather with extremes of bright sunshine and big winds.

Our hiking legs are back!

Fort William to Ullapool

I’ve not posted here for a long while. Since finishing the section of the PCT trail in the autumn of 2017 our adventures have continued with London and new working lives.

We use our time carefully to do useful and meaningful things but have really missed our time hiking. So, we’re heading back to Scotland to walk a section of the western highlands towards Cape Wrath.

Above is a picture of all my gear, including the tent, stove and fuel, weighing around 11kg. We’ll share carrying the food for the 8 days and 120 miles. Below is my finished pack and our daily food bags. We can’t wait to board the night sleeper and to be heading north!

Final PCT Kit

This is everything I wore and carried in the final days on the PCT. I’m surprised by how much there is. Yasmin carried most of the food, cups, spoons and matches, with her own camping gear, water and clothing. My gear list is as follows: 

  • Gossamer backpack
  • MSR Carbon Reflex 2 man tent
  • Bear canister
  • Water bottle
  • 2 season sleeping bag (needs a compression sack!)
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Thermarest sleeping mat
  • Patagonia rain jacket, puffa jacket, fleece, base layer and pants
  • 2 sets of jogging shorts and t-shirts 
  • 1 Rohan underpants and long johns 
  • 4 pairs of socks
  • 1 handkerchief and micro towel
  • Stove – 1 Trangia pot and lid with a gas can and burner
  • Katadyn water filter
  • Medical kit and toiletries – tooth brush, tooth paste, dental floss, Teepee, mouth guard and Vaseline 
  • Maintenance bag – folding knife, sun cream, scissors, duct tape, rubber bands, flint and strike, spare reading glasses, sun glasses
  • A dry sack for clothes
  • A dry sack used as a ‘water bucket’
  • 2 water bags – of 2 and 4 litre capacity
  • A dry sack for valuables – passport, ESTA, hiker permit, fire permit, wallet, lighter, smart phone, 2 pencils, pencil sharpener and journal
  • 2 map cases and maps – one to hang around my neck, the other in my pack
  • Bear bell
  • Head torch
  • Reading glasses
  • Sun hat
  • Thermal hat
  • Gloves
  • Flip flops
  • Nike trainers (not in the picture)

If I were to do it again I would make the following changes:

  • Have a 3 season sleeping bag, not a 2, and with a good compression sack
  • Take a more minimalist tarp tent supported with walking sticks
  • Carry walking sticks
  • 2 pairs of socks only
  • Resupply the next set of paper maps with our food and not carry them in advance
  • Change the water filter to a Sawyer
  • Ditch the 2 litre water bag and carry just the 4 litre
  • Ditch the bear bell (we thought we needed them)
  • Ditch the Trangia pot and lid and basic gas ring and replace with a Jetboil system
  • Ditch the flip fops and replace with an Acrossports plastic slipper – lighter and easier to get on and off
  • Ditch the matches and rely on the lighter
  • Ditch the under pants and long johns – no need for them with a warmer bag
  • Ditch the second map case – no need for it with the new maps in the resupply boxes

When we finished we were carrying lots of warm weather gear including the extra layers and gloves we had to pickup on the way as the weather became increasingly colder and wintery. These clothes – the puffa jacket, base layer and long johns – we’d originally posted off the trail as we hit successive heatwaves heading south, only later to have them reposted out to us. This worked well and kept our load lighter for longer. Likewise with the bear canisters which we only needed as we headed into Yosemite and the Sierras. 

Me Again 

Before the early morning bus ride from Mammoth Lake to Lancaster and the train journey onwards to Los Angeles Union Station. We then walked up the hill in downtown to Disney Hall to meet my sister Sophie. A wonderful moment. 

Final PCT Stats

We’ve reached Mammoth Lake and completed our through section hike from Cascade Locks at the top of Oregon to central California. Emotions of extreme tiredness, sadness and euphoria at completing what we’d set out to do pervade every non-hiking moment as we decompress before returning to LA. 

Stats update with previous figures in brackets and new categories in italics:

  • Walked 1,025 miles (536)
  • Seen 69 deer (34) with a young stag on our last day
  • Forded 5 rivers (2)
  • Seen 8 snakes (4)
  • Seen 3 bears
  • Almost trod on 1 rattle snake 
  • Passed 898 (751) other hikers of which:
  • 18 had dogs (17)
  • 8 were on horses (8)
  • 1 was barefoot (1)
  • 3 were wearing kilts (3)
  • 17 were playing music from speakers (15)
  • 97 were listening to headphones (88)
  • 54 were heading southbound (31)
  • 1 was traveling with a goat train
  • 1 was wearing a neck tie
  • 2 were carrying musical instruments