If you have read my PCT FAQ then you already know that I have only myself to keep me company on the Pacific Crest Trail, and if you haven’t, then you know now.
When I first decided to hike the PCT, I very much wanted a companion (other than Moustachio), but following my initial research, I decided that flying solo might be the way to go.
Thus far I am enjoying the freedom that a solo hike provides (being naked at camp is really quite enjoyable), but I do see the benefits of opting to buddy-up as well.
THE SOLO HIKER
The first thing that a solo hiker will notice is the sheer amount of freedom that accompanies hiking alone (followed shortly by the realization they are all by themselves in remote wilderness, far from any help).
If you want to hike 5 miles a day, you can. 30? Alright. Need to stop every mile to take a long distance call? It’s all you, buddy. You get to hike on your schedule without having to compromise, negotiate, or ever consider the needs of anyone else.
Also, hitchhiking just got easier! And what’s that? People in town or on the trail are more likely to take pity on you and help your smelly, lonely self out? Awesome. Wake up when you want, sleep when you want, and take a day off when you want. HIking solo sounds like the tits.
THE NON-SOLO HIKER
So you have a friend, relative, missed connection, or otherwise relatable masochist in your life to join you on the PCT.
You now have backup (alternate target) in the event of a bear attack, you have someone to listen to your dull banter as you plod along the trail, you have someone to help you should some help-requiring scenario arise, and you have someone to help carry that extra roll of 12-ply ultra-plush toilet paper.
Traveling with another person (or persons) can be a great relationship building (or destroying) activity, and it can be nice to have someone familiar around (especially when you get lost).
Nights spent camping in good company on the trail are quite enjoyable (unless your companions snore), and the presence of another person can be helpful in the trail’s trying times.
Whether hiking solo or in a group, you will meet other hikers along the trail, and you will find most of them to be rather awesome individuals. Thus far I have found around a 50/50 split for solo vs. non-solo hiking (and around 90% of hikers to be male; although I’m told the gender split is actually less dramatic – I’m skeptical).
In the end, alone or together, we are all just one big group of hiker trash on our way to Canada.
Stay classy folks.