4 Miles

700 feet

1 Hour 22 min

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My First PCT Training Hike

I got my first PCT 2023 training hike in about 2 months out from my start date. One of my primary goals of thru-hiking the PCT is to not die of being sore (learn more about why I’m taking an extended backcountry vacation here). I’m glad I already started hitting the trail with my pack loaded up. Here are 3 big learnings I had from my first training hike and what I will do next.

PCT Training Hike Details

The main thing I want to focus on for my PCT training is getting used to carrying a heavy pack. I busted out my beloved Zpack Arc Zip pack and loaded her up with about 20 lbs of weight.

I live right next to trail 100 in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. Which is amazing because I can walk out my door and hit the trail. Cool fact: trail 100 is a 24 mile continuous trail right in the middle of the city. It goes under the major roads and you don’t even have to leave the trail.

I have a 4-mile loop that is my go-to quick/before work hike. It takes me about an hour and 10 minutes to hike. Here’s what I learned after doing this hike with my 20 lb pack.

Example of how not to load a pack for training hikes. 

3 Big PCT Training Hike Learnings 

1. It's Important to Load Weight Correctly

I added some random clothes, a gallon jug of water, and my water bladder. The gallon jug was way too low. I was constantly lifting my pack and doing that thing where you try to drink the weight away 🙂.

2. I need Strength Training

My legs felt super weak. They were shaking on some of the hills. I definitely need to do some strength training so I don’t get Elvis legs when I’m on the PCT.

3. The Added Pack Weight is Hard

The hike felt a lot tougher with 20 extra lbs on my back. I was breathing hard on some of the flat parts. There are some big water hauls on the PCT and I don’t want to suffer (too much) with the extra weight. 

Overall I need to train way more

What’s Next?

This was good practice to see where I am training-wise and what I need to do. I took these big learnings and developed a training plan. Check out my PCT thru-hike training plan here.

Read more about my PCT 2023 Thru-hike Prep

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