Hey there! My name is Kelli. I am a professional ski mountaineer. In my non-ski time, I enjoy backpacking, kayaking, white water rafting, rock climbing, camping, painting, and getting kisses from puppies. I also work in content and social media marketing to pay my bills.
In 2016-2017 I hiked the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand. It was my first thru hike and it blew my mind. In mid-2018, I was getting antsy sitting at my desk job and feeling a never ceasing need to get back outside. So, I did some planning and figured out exactly what I needed to do, applied for my permits, packed my gear...and set out to hike a ridiculously long journey...SOLO.
I look forward to seeing you on the trail!
The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, often just called the Pacific Crest Trail (or, more often, the PCT), is a 2,650-mile (give or take) trail that runs the Pacific mountain ranges in the United States from Mexico to Canada. It originated from the Oregon Skyline Trail.
The Oregon Skyline Trail is near Jefferson Park, Oregon. The Oregon Skyline Trail was routed and marked by the U.S. Forest Service in 1920. This trail did not cross the entire state, but connected Crater Lake to Mt. Hood. It was not much of a “trail” in the modern sense—it was a steep, sometimes dangerous route consisting of a hodgepodge of pioneer wagon roads, Indian trails, old logging paths, and joining segments. Although the Oregon Skyline Trail is scarcely known today, it still exists in bits and pieces. I ran into my first official marker of it on a hike to Mt. Jefferson's Jefferson Park. (And after this adventure, I might just be tempted look up the old route.)
The Pacific Crest Trail concept was initiated by a Catherine Montgomery from Washington who brought the idea to a Joseph Hazard in 1926. According to his recollection in Pacific Crest Trails, she suggested "a high trail winding down the heights of our western mountains . . . from the Canadian Border to the Mexican Boundary Line!” Hazard took it the idea to Bellingham, Washington’s Mt. Baker Club, and it took off. With the support of various clubs and organizations, in 1928, Washington’s Cascade Crest Trail (running from the Columbia River to Canada) was developed by Fred Cleator of the U.S. Forest Service. Cleator oversaw the Washington and Oregon regions and eventually extended the Oregon Skyline Trail to that state’s borders, too. So, by the late 1930s, Washington and Oregon had PCT trail markers designed and posted from California to Canada.
The California region of the U.S. Forest Service, however, was not so quick to do the same. It was in 1932 that chairman of the Executive Committee of the Mountain League of Los Angeles County, Clinton C. Clarke, proposed what would become the PCT—“a continuous wilderness trail across the United States from Canada to Mexico . . . a trail along the summit divides of the mountain ranges of these states, traversing the best scenic areas and maintaining an absolute wilderness character.” Included in the proposal was the creation of additional Mountain Leagues in all three states. Both these and a conference were formed.
By 1935, Clarke had developed a rough guide to the PCT, and during the summers from 1935 through 1938, groups of boys from the YMCA scouted PCT routes in relays from Mexico to Canada. This work was overseen by the YMCA’s secretary, Warren L. Rogers, who kept the momentum for the PCT plan going until the 1960s when such trails hit the national radar.
The Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail (the "AT" -- a similar trail on the East Coast) were designated as the country’s first two National Scenic trails in 1968 as a part of the National Trails System Act. Although designated in 1968, the actual formal routing of the PCT would not be completed until many years later—private property negotiations being the major hold up.
Finally, on a cold, wet, and windy June 5, 1993 (National Trails Day) the PCT was dedicated with a “Golden Spike” Completion Ceremony in Southern California near Soledad Canyon. At the time, the trail was documented as 2638 miles. (With reroutes and further measurements, the current distance is closer to 2650 miles.) Thru-hiking, although it had been done before, began in earnest.
Pretty Cool, huh?!