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5 mistakes from the PCT

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I really wouldn’t change much about my PCT thru hike this year. But I did do a few stupid things involving becoming too friendly with the mosquitoes, trying to out smart bears, and (a lack of) resupply…

1. Putting coffee and electrolytes through my sawyer squeeze

Look it was early days in the desert. I was pre occupied with generally staying alive. The whole ‘dirty bottles-clean bottles’ thing confused me somehow. I would often just drink directly from the sawyer squeeze if I was feeling lazy- which by the way works wonderfully.

Somewhere along that dusty trail i found rare shade under a nice plant and sleepily poured an electrolyte packet into some unfiltered water. Without thinking too much about it, I just screwed the filter on and chugged away. This act got a few laughs at camp later on, especially the next morning when i almost put cold ‘dirty water’ coffee through it.

“Get your dirty bottle system down Clash or you’ll get SICK!” Tombraider jokingly warned me. I labelled my bottles and tried my best. Then forgot about it by the next town. Luckily I never got sick. Still don’t really know what I learnt from this. The sawyer squeeze survived though.

2. Not fully reading my Garmin InReach plan.

And being very confused at the bills each month. $35? Huh? I thought I signed up for a £13 a month plan? £13 definitely isn’t $35, right?

Tracking. The plan didn’t include tracking. Damn. It was fun to share tracking points with family and friends back home. I was sharing it every 10 minutes, then quickly changed to every 4 hours when I realised the battery wouldn’t last longer than a day or so. I worked this out well over 1000 miles in, woops.

The next time I turned it on was for the final mile approaching the Canadian border. Of course I wanted to share that with them! In a land of no phone service, it was nice to know they could follow me in live time. Here’s how it looked when I eventually got into phone service:

Continue reading further details about the 5 mistakes Rachel McVittie made on her PCT hike here.

LAST UPDATED

January 3, 2023

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Rachel McVittie


I’m rachel (trail name Clash!) you will most likely find me up a mountain, camping, talking about the moon, or in a hospital- they do actually pay me to be there and work, i don’t just hang around. I’m sometimes a nurse, Sometimes a hiker of long paths. This summer i’m fully indulging in the latter personality, with a gentle stroll from mexico to canada, AKA a mega badass superlong solo thru-hike of the pacific crest trail. I’ve even got my 2 pairs of undies packed and ready. In this sunny corner of the internet you can follow my musings, adventures, and general chaos as we delve into the mountains and more worryingly into my mind- lets get weird over here.

MEDIA MENTIONS

While DEET products may be more familiar by name and their chemical smell, sprays with 20 percent picaridin, like Sawyer Products, offer comparable protection without the harsh odor and oily feeling on your skin.

Kevin Brouillard
Travel & Leisure

MEDIA MENTIONS

The Sawyer Squeeze was (by far) the most common Pacific Crest Trail water filter this year – for the fifth year in a row. It’s a $39, 3 oz / 85 g hollow fiber filter that rids your drinking water of protozoa and bacteria (and floaties). It can be used with Sawyer bags (included with the filter) or with compatible water bottles (Smartwater is the bottle of choice for many hikers).

Halfway Anywhere
Media Mentions from Halfway Anywhere

MEDIA MENTIONS

SAWYER MINI WATER FILTER, $22 This has been my water filter of choice for years now. The bags can be iffy — I have had a few break – so carry a couple. However, the filter itself is reliable, light and inexpensive. -Logan

Bikepacking Team