Update: Thanks everyone for participating! We enjoyed answering your questions!

My short bio: I am Carly Moree, a 2015 PCT thru-hiker alongside 2011 AT thru-hiker, Zach Davis. We recently co-authored a book titled "Pacific Crest Trials: A Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail". Let's chat!

My Proof:

http://appalachiantrials.com/reddit-ama-with-the-authors-of-pacific-crest-trials-at-5pm-pst-on-33116/ http://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/long-distance-hiking/2600-miler-list/ http://www.amazon.com/Pacific-Crest-Trials-Psychological-Successfully-ebook/dp/B01CYZCDEE/ https://www.instagram.com/p/BDRAR8ZBpyJ/

Comments: 87 • Responses: 30  • Date: 

Frentis8 karma

What was the top "well this is unexpected, but super rad" moment on your trip?

Also, something more simple, what shoes would you recommend for long distance? And what shoes for everyday walking about? You strike as someone who knows something about walking...

Thank you for doing this AMA!

PapiHikes8 karma

You're welcome!

The first one I recall was 60mph winds in the desert, on the second day into my thru-hike. I was almost getting blown off trail.

I prefer trail runners, specifically the Altra Lone Peaks. They're all good, any model that's on sale. I really recommend trying out shoes before getting into your thru-hike, as footwear is highly individualized, but Altras are used by a lot of thru-hikers, so that's a good place to start.

Evan_exe3 karma

Important -- is a hot dog a sandwich?

PapiHikes2 karma

ZACH: Definitely not.

CARLY: Yes, absolutely.

StuckOnTheWallAgain2 karma

What was the most beautiful thing you saw on your hike?

PapiHikes2 karma

CARLY: There's not one single moment that comes to mind. There were beautiful things everyday. Washington blissed me out, as did seeing Mt. Shasta in Northern California, the Sierra, the sunrises and sunsets in the desert, the interactions among thru-hikers, the kindness of complete strangers, the act of so many people walking on the same footpath towards Canada.

ZACH: Pretty much all of New Hampshire and Maine blew my pants off. The 100-Mile Wilderness (pretty much the final 100 miles of the trail) in particular seemed to serve up a gorgeous sunset every night. I also really enjoyed the Roan Highlands in NC / TN.

VillageIdiot342 karma

do you have any videos or articles detailing your gear clothes and equipment? like specific models and brands?

examples: what shoes enable you to accomplish this feat? what backpack? what shelter rig?

PapiHikes3 karma

CARLY: I didn't detail my gear list for my thru-hike last year. All I can offer is a review I gave of my sleeping bag (which I loved), found here. I will be detailing my gear list for my upcoming thru-hike, and the changes between my lists from 2015 to this year here.

humblyawsome2 karma

Did you have to face any "personal demons" during such a long time alone? Did the solitude make you want to quit?

PapiHikes4 karma

CARLY: Yes, I'm a very social person and hiking alone on the PCT was definitely a challenge for me. Specifically in Oregon, more than halfway through the trail, I wanted to quit. I went so far as to look up plane tickets on my phone, due to being away from friends on the trail and feeling lonely.

humblyawsome2 karma

What was the source of your drive to keep going? Was it about the physical accomplishment itself or something more emotional?

PapiHikes4 karma

CARLY: The thought of quitting the trail made me distraught, so I decided to hit the reset button each day and view each morning through a new lens. I set mini goals each day, for example, 30 or 40 miles per day, because I knew that would help take my focus away from Canada and my loneliness. These challenging daily goals allowed me to shift my focus away from my internal struggle and remain present.

that_is_so_Raven2 karma

What do you guys like about Breaking Bad if you've seen it?

PapiHikes8 karma

CARLY: I honestly don't really remember anything about it.

ZACH: I like the drugs. Also, the murder.

RubyKikiandKoopa2 karma

Hi! I have a question for both you and Zach. What is your opinion on thru-hiking with dogs? -Ruby

PapiHikes17 karma

ZACH: Hi, Jenna! :) I think it's important to be very open to the idea that your dog is NOT cut out for a thru-hike during the journey. There have been many times where I've encountered a pup on the trail that was clearly struggling (way too skinny, limping, etc.). Just remember, you get to decide if you hike or not, your dog has no say in the matter, which isn't fair. Just because your dog loves hiking DOESN'T mean they'll love thru-hiking. That said, I wouldn't discourage anyone who's dead set on hiking with their dog, I'd just recommend that they be flexible and receptive to their dog's condition.

CARLY: Agreed.

KadenSnowMD2 karma

Any bear stories?

PapiHikes5 karma

CARLY: I saw a bear...in the Mojave Desert (of all places)! (S)he was sprinting down the mountain without even acknowledging us. A lot of trail friends had bear encounters in Northern California too.

garmachi1 karma

A typical bear encounter on the AT consists of reaching for your camera or phone just in time to get a picture of the thing's butt as it runs away. Sometimes you have to clap your hands to make 'em git.

When someone on the PCT says "bear encounter"... how's that go?

PapiHikes2 karma

CARLY: From my understanding, it's not that different from bear encounters on the AT. Black bears are very habituated to humans in the High Sierra (thus why bear canisters are required).

Loop-Zoop2 karma

What was the one thing that bugged you the most; something you thought you would get used to, but couldn't?

PapiHikes5 karma

CARLY: Great question! I honestly don't have a good answer for this. I think maybe because this was my second long distance backpacking trip, I had a much better idea of what to expect, and thus didn't get so deterred by the things that can frustrate first timers. Blisters, bugs, heat rash, sweat, dehydration, hail storms, smelling like a dumpster (according to common perception)...I had learned on the AT that this was all temporary. I embraced the suck, if you will.

ZACH: Funny you use the word "bugged" because for me, it was the bugs. Ironically, I contracted West Nile virus (which I didn't learn until after finishing the trail) but even before learning this, the mosquitoes were the thing bugged me the most.

Loop-Zoop3 karma

Thanks, the world would be a much beer place if telling people 'good question' was common. I've done a few 3/4 days hikes and the feeling of sweat and bug spray on my skin is just terrible. I'd love to do a thru-hike but I think that would slowly drive me insane.

How about you Zach?

Edit: That's terrible! Were you sick with it during the hike?

PapiHikes3 karma

ZACH: Very sick. At the time, it was a bit of a mystery. I assumed I had contracted Lyme disease, as it is very prevalent in that area of the country and my symptoms were similar: disorientation, fatigue, headaches, blurred vision. I went to the hospital twice, and each time the doctors concluded I was dehydrated (their assumption was Lyme disease too, but tests consistently came back negative). The saline solution IVs DID actually help temporarily, but I battled headaches for the rest of my thru-hike and then another year after.

ChiliPeppersRHot2 karma

What would be an important piece of advice you could give someone who is planning on hiking the PCT?

PapiHikes10 karma

CARLY: #1 Definitely read Pacific Crest Trials (end shameless plug). #2 Talk to former thru-hikers. #3 Research and get familiar with your gear. #4 Spend time hiking- it's important to get both physically and mentally acclimated to walking for 8-12 hours per day. #5 Understanding WHY you're hiking, people quit because it's mentally difficult.

RedBeardTheHiker2 karma

Carly, how long had you been a vegan before hiking the PCT and what advice do you have for any vegans attempting a thru-hike in the future?

PapiHikes2 karma

CARLY: I became vegan after my AT hike in 2013, so it's been almost three years now. When you're training, eat the food that you'd be consuming on the trail. Don't roll the dice with your diet in the midst of a thru-hike. I should say- I didn't stick to a vegan diet during my thru-hike. I was still vegetarian, but ate cheese from time to time, mostly in my instant mashed potatoes. I didn't supplement during my PCT hike, but I paid for it. For that reason, I'd recommend looking into a protein powder, either soy or hemp.

Also, I had a spreadsheet of the food in my mail drops that broke down total calories, fat, and protein to ensure I was getting enough of each.

LukeTheAnarchist2 karma

Its actually a huge goal of mine to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, what would you suggest doing/having to prepare for it? And a second question, what did you take away from it?

PapiHikes3 karma

CARLY: See the answer to ChiliPeppersRHot above. My takeaway is that being in nature is addictive. I'm leaving for another PCT thru-hike this year.

leclittoris2 karma

Assuming you have a family, where does all your income come from? I forget the name of the guy but be's a triple crown and I can only imagine who puts the food on the table during all these hikes

PapiHikes6 karma

CARLY: I'm not married, I don't have children, I'm only responsible for myself, which definitely makes the lifestyle of a thru-hiker much more obtainable. I do know many people who have thru-hiked with a spouse and kids; I can only imagine that it requires much more planning, foresight, etc.

I think this quote from Heather "Anish" Anderson sums it up well: “You will do whatever it is you most want to do. That’s what I say when someone says they can’t do something because of their commitments. If you really, really, really want to thru-hike, or go on some extended trip, or do anything, you will make it happen. You will have to make sacrifices. There’s never going to be a time where the stars align and you’re suddenly debt-free and commitment-free. That just doesn’t happen. You have to make it happen. Nobody’s life is so complex that they can’t make their dream happen, it just might require more sacrifices than they’re willing to give. You will do whatever it is you most want to do.”

ZACH: What Carly / Anish said. It takes incredible discipline and sacrifice to save for a thru-hike and to find a job/career that allows you to disappear for a half year. That's why there are far more section hikers than thru-hikers. Some people can make it happen (and I'd argue most of those people HAVE to make it happen), some people can't (or choose not to). It's all a matter of priorities. Most thru-hikers sacrifice a stable career to make a thru-hike possible, or at best postpone it, and thus forfeit a lot of the luxuries many of us have grown accustomed.

cleentlennord2 karma

How did you train before the hike? And how heavy is your gear?

PapiHikes3 karma

CARLY: For my training regimen, check out my response to garmachi above. My base weight (total weight minus food and water and what you're wearing), was around 11-13 lbs., totally packed it was closer to 30 lbs (depending on availability of water and how many days worth of food I was carrying).

gbtg551 karma

Are there stops along the way where you replentish your food and water supply? How do you know how much food and water to take?

PapiHikes2 karma

CARLY: Yup, hikers stop into town every few days to resupply. People either send food to themselves or resupply from a grocery store, convenience store, or gas station. There are several resources which let hikers know the distance between resupply stops, and you'll quickly get an understanding for how many miles you can cover in a given day. Hikers get water directly on the trail. The majority of hikers treat their water with a filter or chemicals.

gbtg552 karma

Was it dangerous at any point in time? You did mention bears, what about snakes, and other insects that you might encounter? Also, what kind of food did you bring with you?

PapiHikes3 karma

CARLY: The only time I felt concerned for my safety was on the LA aqueduct. There were unleashed dogs (I don't know the breeds, but they were intimidating- they gave zero shits) and it was dark out (we were night hiking). Quite frankly this is a sketchy section, I don't recommend night hiking alone here.

I saw plenty of rattlesnakes in the desert and a few at other points along the trail. The mosquitoes were really bad for a few days leading up to Tuolumne Meadows. I HIGHLY recommend a bug net.

I ate a vegetarian diet (almost vegan aside from a burger slip up and cheesy instant mashed potatoes), but as you can see from this photo, pretty healthy stuff.

minteale2 karma

What do you guys like on your pizza??

PapiHikes2 karma

CARLY: On the AT, my go-to toppings were pineapple and bacon. I haven't eaten that since. On the PCT, believe it or not, but I don't recall eating any pizza.

ZACH: I ate an entire XL meat lovers pizza in one sitting in Erwin, TN. Chased with a 6-pack of Blue Moon. Let me answer your next question for you. NO, I am not 300 lbs. Someday.

eudamme2 karma

What's your favourite flavour ice cream?

PapiHikes7 karma

Carly: I'm vegan- so I jam on some Coconut Bliss.

Zach: Great, very important question. Mint chocolate chip used to be my favorite, until I ate that during the half gallon challenge on the AT. Haven't touched the stuff since. Phish Food by Ben and Jerry's is my goto now.

AltairEgos1 karma

Have you ever seen the movie Wild? If so, what is your favorite burger joint in the Northwest part of the United States. Thanks.

PapiHikes2 karma

CARLY: I haven't seen the movie, but I met Cheryl Strayed in Chicago a few months before my AT hike. She's incredible, I love her. I give her serious props for what she accomplished.

I'm a vegan (apparently a bad one), but I did eat one burger on the trail in Stehekin. I got incredibly sick. Not pointing fingers at the burger joint, that's what happens when you go a few years without eating meat. I've heard really good things about the Eastwind Drive-In in Cascade Locks in Oregon.

[deleted]1 karma


PapiHikes1 karma

CARLY: The PCT doesn't overlap the Lost Coast Trail, although it sounds like a cool trail!

garmachi1 karma

Congratulations on your hike and on the book!

How much outdoors experience did you have before you hit the PCT, and what did you do to train and prepare?

PapiHikes4 karma

CARLY: Thanks! I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2013, but before that I had almost zero-outdoor experience aside from running. I went on trial hikes wearing my pack with all of my gear, going up and down the same mountain for ten hours per day, two to three days per week. Although it was a bit tedious, I'm really glad I trained this way as I was able to hit the ground running in SoCal. I did no training for the AT and sustained a lot of injuries because of it. I was injury-free on the PCT.

[deleted]1 karma


PapiHikes2 karma

ZACH: I meant stands for as in acronym. It was intended to be a joke, apparently a not good one.

NRod19981 karma

Hi, thanks for doing an AMA, my friend (she's 16) is thinking of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail after graduating from high school; any solid advice you can offer her?

PapiHikes2 karma

CARLY: First and foremost, that's awesome! She totally should. What an incredible opportunity to thru-hike at that age. The advice for someone coming out of high school isn't all that different than what I'd recommend to anyone. Have her do the research- read books, talk to thru-hikers, and again, have a strong understanding for why she's hiking (another shameless book plug). Also, I'd advise her to go on several shorter section hikes so she can become familiar with hiking, her gear, and being alone outdoors.

jesern1 karma

Congrats on the thru-hike! It's been on my list after doing some long-distance cycling in the past (it is not the same thing at all, and I know that!)

Did you ever 'miss' your electronics, or were you good out there? How often were you totally "out of touch" and/or off the grid fully? Were there places you could pick up power along the way, or did you bring charging gear with you?

PapiHikes3 karma

CARLY: I never missed my electronics. It was actually a relief to know that I didn't have cell service, and thus the opportunity to be on my phone (to this day, I don't have a Facebook account.) There's definitely long stretches of the trail where you won't have any service, the same goes for many of the small towns near the trail. Overall though, you can typically check in with friends and family every few days.

I brought a backup charger, which I highly recommend if you're using one of the popular PCT map apps (Guthook or Halfmile). Most people recharge their electronics while in town.

ParagonalDuck1 karma

What was the hardest thing for you across your adventure?

PapiHikes1 karma

CARLY: I struggled emotionally in Oregon, which I'm still trying to pinpoint why exactly. I suspect that being separated from my trail family was a big part of it, but thru-hiking is an emotional journey that doesn't always have clear or immediate explanations or answers.

ZACH: The bugs.

nighterrors_1 karma

What was your motivation for doing this hike? Personal accomplishment or something else?

PapiHikes2 karma

CARLY: Well if you wanna get philosophical...I've felt really pulled to the PCT for a few years. I first learned of the PCT during my hike of the AT, somewhere in Massachusetts. At that moment, I decided I would hike it someday. The idea of hiking from the Mexican to Canadian border appealed to me. I HAD to know what it felt like to touch the northern terminus.

RedLionEngineer1 karma

Did you take advice from Cheryl Strayed's "Wild" on this trip?

PapiHikes1 karma

CARLY: I take advice from Cheryl on how to live life in general. One that stands out to me is, "You don't have a career, you have a life."