WHEN DREAMS BECOME REALITY
March 15 2019 will be day the where I embark on a 4270 km. foot journey across the Wilderness of Western America. I'll - hopefully - walk all the way from the Mexican border to the Canadian border over approximately five months. My hike will be a northbound thru-hike starting from Campo, California by the Mexican border.
It's getting more and more surreal as the days move closer and I almost can't contain my excitement to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. However, with all the day dreaming and wanderous thoughts, I also have to take care of some practicalities before I leave Denmark.
LET'S TALK ABOUT THE PLANNING PHASE
Going through the planning phase, I am sure a lot of a aspirational PCT-hikers can get overwhelmed. As much as the excitement and thrill, there's just almost as much practicalities that goes with the planning of a Pacfic Crest Trail thru-hike.
In the hopes of easing fellow hopeful hikers PCT planning, here's my 13-step checklist of things to be done before travelling from Denmark to US and hiking the PCT through 5 awesome months in 2019.
MIKKEL'S 13-STEP PCT CHECKLIST
1. Get my PCT permit
As you know, PCTA releases 50 permit spots per day. The first 35 per day were released on November 14th 2018 and - oh my - what a stressful experience! After waiting in que for +2 hours, I finally managed to grab a permit.
Already done - my permit for March 15th was issued to me on January 16th.
TIP: Ask friends or family to help you out on permit day. My mother and girlfriend also "tried to get a permit" - just me. My mother were first in que and ended up getting it for me.
TIP 2: On January 15th, the remaining 15 spots per day will be released.
Already done - and it looks awesome in my passport! I was asked the following questions and the interview took under 5 minutes:
- "How come you're applying for a visa and not a ESTA / Waiver Pass?"
- "What do you do here in Denmark?"
- "Do you have any family in the US?"
- "What is the purpose of your trip?"
- "Are you going alone?"
- "... for a hike that long?"
- "Your visa is approved. Have a nice hike".
Apart from the required material (passport, photo, etc.), I brought the following supporting material:
- My previous passports (with American stamps)
- Letter signed by my boss telling I have a job when returning
- Financial statements
- Criminal record
- Bachelor diploma from Copenhagen Business School
- A book about the PCT
I wasn't asked to show any of my supporting material, but the book worked great as a talking / illustrating point for the interview. Apparently, not all Americans are aware of PCT. 😉
3. California Fire Permit
Already done - I must have a California Fire Permit to my use a stove on most of the PCT in California.
This permit is super fast and easy to obtain. All you have to do is watch a short video and take a quiz. Easy peasy.
4. Canada Entry Permit
Done - to enter Canada via the PCT, I obtained permission from the Canada Border Services Agency, and carry a paper copy of my approved permit at all times while in Canada.
Things you'll need:
- Scan of passport
- Scan of visa (B1/B2)
- Scan of driver's license
- Scan of signed application formula
5. Book plane tickets
Already done - I booked a one-way ticket through Norwegian. On March 11, I will travel from Copenhagen to London and then to San Diego.
The tickets costed me about 1900 DKK / 255 Euro (luggage included).
TIP: I called the American embassy in Denmark to ask whether a one-way ticket would be sufficient to enter the US. They said it would be okay because I already had the B1 / B2-visa.
6. Travel ensurance
Done - through my trade union, DJØF, I could get a 25 % discount on travel ensurance from Europæiske - and having heard positive things about their coverance and willingness to help one out, I have decided to go with them.
It will cost me about 3200 DKK / 428 Euro.
7. Accomodation in the first few days in San Diego
Unfortunately, their hosting season starts March 23, and I'll already be on the trail at that point. I have +3 days in San Diego, so I might have to look up AirBnB or a hostel if I can't find any trail angels. We'll see.
8. Getting a ride to the trailhead / southern terminus
Yet to be done - I still have to figure this one out. It's my hopes that a trail angel would be willing to help me out with a ride, but if that fails, then I'll try to get there through public transport as advised on Scout & Frodo's site.
9. Rent out my room
Done - in order to avoid rental costs, I'll rent out my room in Copenhagen. That'll save me a lot of money.
10. Pre-PCT training
Doing - besides biking a half an hour to and from work every other day, I'm training to run a half maraton on February 23rd 2019. That'll be just right to get my cardio level going for the PCT. Also, I plan on upping my core training, etc. to minimize the risk of injuries.
As for hiking, I don't have anything planned right now. I literally spend all my time working, saving up for the trip, so haven't got much spare time. I hope that I can get out on a week long hike in the spring, otherwise, I will have to make do with occational weekend trips.
11. Find podcasts, audio books and music for the trail
Doing - I'm currently trying to find all kinds of things to listen while on trail. I'm trying to mix things up so I don't get too tired of just listening to music.
- I'm thinking of getting LOTR and The Hobbit as audio books
- Finding new and interesting music as well as 1-hour mixes of beloved favorites (check out WildStray's hiking playlist on Spotify with +3000 followers)
- Downloading all the episodes of Troldspejlet, a Danish podcast discussing movies, comics, games, etc.
12. Getting vaccines
Done - I went to my doctor to get the vaccines that I need for the trip. Apparently, I only needed a tetanus vaccine (let's hope he knew what he was doing!).
13. Have my post-trail plan ready
Done - if there is one thing that is often advocated from experienced thru-hikers, it's that you should always have a plan for life after the trail. That'll help you mentally, keep you sane when the trip is nearing the end and soften the post trail blues. My plan? I've applied for my Master's degree here in Copenhagen. Fingers crossed.
Want to follow my 2019 Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike?
If you want to tag along my PCT-hike and other hiking adventures, feel free to check out my Instagram. I recently upgraded to a proper camera, a Sony a5100, that I'll bring on the PCT.