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[pct-l] trail tread and other curiosities

I'll throw in my 2 cents worth.

The PCT is made for people and horses. Horses have problems with steep
pitches, so for the most part the trail does not have extremely steep
sections,. Switch backs are the norm - not the straight up and down like in
the East. There are a few steps, but only in a few places. The passes in the
High Sierra and Washington are demanding - and they go up and down and up
and down, but it may be more psychological than real. It really is hell to
get to the top of a pass, see the trail go down, and then right back up on
the other side.

Normally the trail is compacted dirt with rocks thrown in. In the desert,
there will be some sandy stretches, but the worst is the soft sand just
South of Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood in Oregon. In the Cascades, there are
a few lava sections where stiff soles are needed. For the most part the
trail is wide enough so you don't brush against the foliage - but, since the
trails aren't cleared every year, you could find some overgrown sections
(I've gone through some places and only felt the trail with my feet -
couldn't see it.).

The trails are kept up by volunteers - more in some places, less in others.

There are bridges across only the worst of the rivers/streams. Otherwise,
you need to ford, find a log, etc. The fords aren't all easy and some can be
dangerous. But, you get across.

Generally, the trail is easy to find and is well marked. However, trail
markers have been stolen in certain places, especially near road crossings.
That means that having the trail guide (and reading it) is important in many
sections, especially at junctions and roads. I've done parts of the trail
without the guide - and always wished I had it. I rarely got lost, but often
thought I was. Be careful about following the tree gashes - sometimes all of
the trails are marked the same. And sometimes, the most well established
trail is not the PCT. I don't think map and compass work is needed - except
in snow.

Good trail running shoes will work for the whole trail - some do it in
sandals - some in boots.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Sara Baggett" <butterfreefl@yahoo.com>
To: <pct-l@mailman.backcountry.net>
Sent: Friday, August 09, 2002 1:54 PM
Subject: [pct-l] trail tread and other curiosities

> I have a few questions if you all don't mind.
> I've been wondering what the trail tread is like on
> the PCT?  I'm sure it varies considerably over the
> length of the trail, but generally what's it like?  Is
> it soft sand, hard dirt, lots of rocks and stumblets?
> Is the trail wide or narrow?  Is it well-kept?  Except
> for snow obscuring the trail, is it easy to follow or
> does it require extensive map and compass work?  Is it
> well-marked or does the section of guidebook stay
> glued in your hand or to the end of your nose?  I've
> heard (or read) that the trail's grade is no more than
> 10% at any given time.  Is that true or do you spend
> hours/days on the Stairmaster from Hell, climbing
> steps that never end?
> Nobody really talks about the trail itself.  Anybody
> care to share?
> Sara
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