Do you like to walk for exercise? We all know how important it is to exercise to keep our bodies healthy. Some people like to run or play sports. Others prefer walking or hiking. Walking even a mile or so every day can keep your muscles in shape and your heart healthy.
For some avid hikers, however, walking just a mile isn't enough. They prefer to walk for days or even months through forests and along mountain peaks. Would you believe that some hikers even hike from Mexico to Canada?
Although you could technically use many different routes to walk from Mexico to Canada, the preferred route of hikers seeking the adventure of a lifetime is to hike the entire route of the Pacific Crest Trail. Known to hikers as the PCT, the Pacific Crest Trail stretches from the Mexico-United States border through the states of California, Oregon, and Washington to the United States-Canada border.
Along its 2,663 miles, the PCT follows the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges through some of the most beautiful wilderness in the country. Hikers who backpack the entire length of the PCT pass through seven national parks and 25 national forests.
The idea for the PCT came from Clinton Churchill Clarke in 1932. It did not achieve official status until 1968, however, when it was designated a National Scenic Trail under the National Trails System Act. The PCT was not officially completed until 1993.
Thousands of people enjoy sections of the PCT every year. A few hundred brave souls attempt to hike the entire length of the trail each year. These people, known as thru-hikers, must plan their trip for months and then dedicate 4-6 months on the trail.
Most thru-hikers begin at the southern end of the PCT in April and hike north, finishing at the Canadian border sometime in September. In addition to being dedicated, thru-hikers must also be in decent physical shape to tackle the rough terrain the PCT covers. From sea-level forested areas to mountain peaks above 13,000 feet, the PCT offers challenges few other trails can match.
PCT hikers must be prepared to face extreme heat in the desert areas of the south, as well as extreme cold in the mountainous areas of the north. While carrying everything they need in large backpacks, thru-hikers must contend with both heat exhaustion and hypothermia.
There are also all the usual difficulties of hiking long distances, such as injuries, illnesses, and fatigue. Throw in dangerous animals, such as bears and snakes, and you can see what an accomplishment it is to complete a thru-hike of the PCT.
Of course, some thru-hikers who successfully complete the PCT don't stop there. The PCT is just one of the three trails that make up the Triple Crown of long-distance hiking in the U.S. If you successfully hike the entire PCT, move on to the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail and you can become a Triple Crowner!