It is devastating, I know.
After setting out to complete the 2,600 mile trek from Mexico to Canada via the Pacific Crest Trail, I have learned that the completion of said task is far more difficult than I could have imagined.
You may be shocked to learn that many thru-hikers will end up hiking far more than 2,600 miles (but yes, many end their hikes far short of the 2,600 mile mark as well).
Hiking to and from water, campsites, flushable toilets, and raves in the woods add up; a 1/2 mi/day, everyday for 150 days – 75 bonus miles right there (and this is not even taking into consideration your multiple poop breaks each day.
A good camp or water source can be a mile or more from the official trail sometimes (and after the desert I have resolved to never go off trail for water – not even .1 miles), and should you plan on surviving this ordeal (that's the PCT), you had best put in that extra effort (but seriously, don't do it).
But what's this, “not hiking the entire PCT” business?
Well, let's say the easiest way into a town is to hike down a three-mile side trail off the PCT at mile marker 430 (made up). Now what if the most convenient way back to the trail is a different three-mile trail (exciting town on the other side) that meets back up with the PCT at mile marker 434.
What! you are skipping four miles of the PCT, you cheat! Yes, but I hiked an additional two miles to do so, and I am still walking from Mexico to Canada as my footsteps are indeed connecting.
This is just one example, but there are so many other reasons for “skipping” portions of the PCT including: poodle dog bush detours, fire detours, casino detours, a tree fell down and is blocking the trail detours, and many more. I am sure the PCT purists are out there shaming everyone who fails to flawlessly connect the official PCT trail from start to finish, but the truth is, nobody cares what these people think (and if you are one of these people, then go away).
If I have learned one thing about the PCT thus far it is, rather ironically, that the PCT is not about hiking. In fact, I have known hikers to say that hiking is their least favorite part of the PCT (I say this). The PCT is about the awesomeness of people, and pooping in the woods, and finding out who you really are, and discovering what the human body is capable of (truly amazing things is the answer).
Hike your own hike, friends.