I did this ama a few weeks ago but it got deleted due to lack of proof.

I spent four years in the Marines and when I got out I had nothing to do so I decided to hike the AT. After the AT I just worked odd jobs with still no real clue of what I wanted to do. Soon after I decided to hike the PCT. Now that I have 2/3 I figured I'd might as well do the last one

Here is a picture of the three trails if you don't know what they are


Completing all three is called the Triple Crown. Only a few hundred people have ever done it.

Here's a quick video I made of the PCT hike


My blog where I detailed every day of the PCT




Comments: 200 • Responses: 89  • Date: 

jdb88821 karma

What's your trail name?

What creeped you more, the threat of bears or other hikers?

sohikes22 karma

Trail name on the AT was 0311 (my MOS in the Marines). No trail name on the PCT.

People weirded me out more. There will be a bigger threat of bears on the CDT. Not looking forward to that

jdb88818 karma

What's the weirdest encounter you'd had?

A few years ago in the Adirondacks, my SO and I had this odd encounter with a sole, male hiker who was wearing out his welcome. He stopped to chat with us at our campsite and just wouldn't leave. It was getting odder and odder and we kept dropping accepted social cues that it was time to go. It took him way too long to catch on and move on. That night we didn't sleep well wondering if he was creeping around. Fortunately, we never saw him again.

sohikes17 karma

Met a couple weird people on the AT, that's it. I started the AT very early so I didn't run into many people. And I was going to fast on the PCT that I just didn't see and speak with many people. Once I got past the bubble I was pretty much alone most of the day.

If you're hiking during prime time season then you're more likely to have a strange encounter, especially if you're close to town or a road. On the long trails you can go days without being near civilization depending on your pace. So the only people you'll see are other thru hikers who are pretty much no threat.

I've been to the Adirondack's a couple times. Did Marcy in Feb a couple years ago. Cold as hell

enlguy3 karma

You probably won't see that many bears, and most will be far more scared of you than the other way around. Have you been briefed in bear safety? Happy to share if not. I've lived in the Colorado mountains for years and have only seen one bear. More moose, deer, and the like.

sohikes9 karma

I've read up on bear safety. But you can post yours, knowledge is power

nypvtt-3 karma

Coloradan here. I suggest arming yourself for your CDT trek. You're heading into grizzly country in MT and WY. Not to mention wolves and cougars. My weapon of choice is a Taurus .4510. Never needed it but always glad I had it.

sohikes10 karma

Not sure how I'd be able to get a firearm over there. Not sure on the laws and I'm also low on funds. Probably just gonna carry bear spray

mrramblinrose-12 karma

You should get a firearm. Bear spray isn't going to be enough.

sohikes7 karma

Bear spray has been proven to be more effective than a gun.

mrramblinrose1 karma

Hope there isn't any wind when you discharge the bear spray. Then the effective bear spray turns into a detriment. Guns are a sure thing, I recommend getting one.

sohikes2 karma

Guns are a sure thing

Not really. You could miss or even if you hit it could just piss the bear off. I'm definitely pro gun, I own a few firearms but nothing big enough to take down a bear with one shot.

ActuallyImAnActuary10 karma

What type of bear is best?

sohikes10 karma

I ain't fucking with any bears. Saw a small black bear on the AT. Grizzly bears will be a problem on the CDT

spooder_mang17 karma

False. Black Bear

sohikes5 karma

There are grizzly bears on the CDT. Yellowstone is infested with them. A man in Montana was mauled by one earlier this month, he lived.


gonrada3 karma

Holy crap dude... I know a lot of that was shock ... but he was pretty flipping calm for just getting f'cked up by a bear.

sohikes3 karma

He got attacked twice by the same bear. That's some shitty luck. But yeah, he's pretty calm for having his face hanging off his head

2baldguys10 karma

First let me say I'm impressed! Now to my question. What equipment do you carry now while hiking that youd didn't when you were a newly and what equipment do you realize now you can do without?

sohikes17 karma

lol my baseweight for the AT was almost 30lbs, my baseweight for the PCT was less than 15lbs. I had no clue what I was doing when I hopped on the AT. I carried everything.

I can do without all the extra clothing I brought on the AT. I can do without heavy boots and just use trail runners. I can do without a stove and just rehydrate food. I can do without my huge SOG knife I kept on my backpack strap. I can do without a gun (inb4 debate)

moutonbleu3 karma

What kind of food do you bring if you don't have a stove?

sohikes3 karma

A shit ton of meal bars (like Pro Bars), candy bars, protein bars, PB, tuna, idahoan mashed potatoes, pop tarts, etc etc

adismail9 karma

What are some good backpacking underwear? My normal day to day ones can chafe on long trails.

sohikes10 karma

Exofficio Give-n-Go boxer briefs. Almost every thru hikers wheres them. I now wear them to run and lift weights in. They're awesome. Just look at the reviews on Amazon


I use the 9" version

Toad320 karma

I prefer addidas sport boxer briefs. 6 inch inseem 9 is too long and iches

sohikes2 karma

Anything less than 9" just feels uncomfortable to me and always rides up. To each his own though

Wishyouamerry8 karma

After hiking the Appalachian and Pacific Coast trails, what is a food you hope you never have to eat again?

sohikes11 karma

Cliff bars are pretty boring, same with Luna bars. I got pretty tired of Idahoan Mashed Potatoes that I ate almost every night on the PCT.

Frentis7 karma

That's a hell of a lot of walking. What kinds shoes would you use for something like that?

Also you must have experienced some weird stuff during all that walking, what was some of the stuff you experienced?

sohikes7 karma

Most thru hikers use trail runners now. I used boots for the AT and trail runners for the PCT so I got to experience both. For the AT/PCT/CDT you don't need hiking boots.

As I mentioned in another post, met a couple weird people on the AT. That was about it. There's weirder shit going on in town/city than on trail due to the higher amount of people. Everybody thinks its dangerous out there but it's really the opposite. Statistics show most criminals commit crimes within 3 miles of their home. Nobody is going to hike into the woods in hopes of finding a hiker who is probably not alone, rob him/her and then hike all the way back to town when they could just walk down the street and do the same.

That being said, crimes and murders have been committed on trails. It's just insanely unlikely to happen.

Phoencopterus7 karma

Congrats on finishing the PCT!

Any advice for future thru hikers? My husband and I are planning to hike the PCT this spring.

sohikes12 karma

Nice! It will be the adventure of a lifetime. I'm kind of jealous, the PCT is a nice trail. Very easy terrain and the views are awesome.

Just save as much money as possible. Do as much research as possible. Since there will be two of you, you could save weight by splitting gear.

Just don't quit. So many people quit in the beginning. The desert sucks, I aint gonna lie, I hated it. The first few weeks will suck because you're adjusting to life on trail. Your body will be hurting, shin splints, blisters, plantar fasciitis, you name it. Just push through it. Every thru hiker deals with that stuff.


That website has a ton of info

blueish_night6 karma

What is the weirdest experience you have had hiking? Any dangerous or scary situations?

sohikes6 karma

Met some weird people on the AT. I think they were mentally just not there. I never thought my life was in danger.

I remember one night in a shelter in VT, I was alone which didn't happen much. Middle of the night I hear some kind of groaning noise. I thought it was one of my buddies but then I soon realized I am alone. I immediately shot up and looked around with my headlamp. Didn't see anything. It didn't help that it was raining and thundering either

blueish_night2 karma

Oh man, that would creep me out too. Did you carry any weapons or protection of any kind?

sohikes2 karma

I did have some weapons with me. I'll leave it at that.

blueish_night1 karma

Yeah, I think that I would as well. Someday I will do the AT. Ive done some light hiking there over the years and it is on my bucket list to do the whole thing.

Would a concealed carry permit from one state translate to the next? Or would you have to get one for every state that you walk through?

sohikes6 karma

It's illegal to carry a firearm in many parts of the AT. Not to mention you're going through states like NJ/NY/CT/MA

scottasonicdvx6 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA,

I would like to complete a through-hike of the AT in the near future. I have limited experience with distance hiking. I have done some day hikes and a long distance bike trip, but nothings as enduring as a through hike of the AT.

What sort of physical/mental preparation would you recommend before attempting a through hike?

sohikes8 karma

Almost everyone that does the AT has zero long distance hiking experience. There have been teenagers that have done it as well as retired overweight people. It's all mental believe it or not.

It's really not as difficult as people make it out to be.

I exercise 6x a week so I'm always in shape. I would recommend just getting your legs and feet used to the abuse. The people that I saw who had the easiest transition to thru hiking were runners. Their legs were just used to the beating so they could do big miles right off the bat.

Many people do training hikes when they have free time. I never did that though. But I was in the Marines so that helped.

Just don't quit. You will regret it. Many people only have one chance to find the time and money to hike a long trail.

scottasonicdvx3 karma

Thanks for the reply.

I'm a chef so I'm regularly running around a kitchen for 12+ hours a day, so my legs are fairly used to a heavy workload.

As a chef something that interests me is eating while on the trail. I sort of had a dream of prepping for my hike by preserving lots of food in the months prior and only eating food I had preserved myself while on the trail. Possibly mailing myself packages to pick up along the way to resupply.

How reasonable of a goal is this? Did you have reliable enough access to the post office as you progressed for this to be an option?

Follow up, did you do any foraging for food while on the trail?

sohikes3 karma

A lot of people do what you said. I met a guy who's brother was a chef and he would send him nice healthy food when needed. You'll need a person back home to send your boxes for you.

There will be POs in almost every town you cross. However, you're better off sending them to business' because they have better hours. The last thing you want is to get into town at 5PM on a Saturday. Now you have to wait the rest of the day, all day Sunday and then finally get your box on Monday. That will cost a lot of money.

Follow up, did you do any foraging for food while on the trail?

No. But there are hiker boxes where other hikers leave food and gear they dont want. Every trail town is going have a bunch of hiker boxes. There have been hikers that just resupply straight out of these boxes to save money.

scottasonicdvx2 karma

Good to know.

Last question. I have heard people say that doing a distance hike was a formative experience and that they came out a slightly different person after having had the experience.

Did you feel that your hikes changes you in any way? What sort of lasting impact have your hikes had on you?

sohikes2 karma

Eh, I don't know if it changed me that much. I've always been into the outdoors and I'm very active as it was. I definitely enjoy hiking a lot more after the AT/PCT and I have a bunch of trails I want to do in the future.

It's for sure a one of a kind experience and a adventure of a lifetime. One of the best decisions I ever made was doing a thru hike.

Puggly89106 karma

What animals have you had close encounters with?

What resources do you suggest for someone looking to get into shorter hiking (like 2 to 3 day trips)?

sohikes9 karma

Never had any close encounters with animals. Saw some big rattle snakes, that's it.

Save money and get a membership at REI. Their return policy it sweet. The internet will be your best resource for anything

roberttadina5 karma

get ready for a paragraph awnser... what is your full gear setup, weight, and how does it change through your hike?

sohikes7 karma

I have my full gear list posted on my blog as well as a post thru hike update.

Bogarter1 karma

Looked to be deleted from the blog. Mind giving us a copy pasta?

sohikes9 karma

Thynome2 karma

You have got a phone with yourself. How do you charge it? Or do you keep it completely off and only use it for emergencies?

sohikes5 karma

Airplane mode saves a lot of battery. I got a brand new iPhone 6s a few months before the hike so the battery was fresh.

I had an external battery but I never used it. I ended up going fast enough to where I could recharge in town before it died

Thynome3 karma

Do you listen to music while walking?

sohikes3 karma

I did towards the end of my hike. I prefer to hear what's around me. A bear could charge me and I wouldn't hear it.

Thynome1 karma

I see, that makes sense.

I'm planning to do a half year of work and travel in Australia. Can you recommend just walking into the nature until I find people I can work for? Or should I hitchhike to a pre defined destination?

sohikes2 karma

I don't know anything about Australia aside from the giant mutated spiders and snakes they have. So I don't think I could give you advice there.

You're trying to hike and then find a job? It would help to have a back up plan or some sorts.

cellardoor035 karma

What did you do in the Marines? Do you think your time in helped prepare you for long-distance hiking?

sohikes21 karma

I was in the infantry. Being a grunt definitely helped. I got used to walking long distances with heavy thick clothing as well as over 100lbs of gear on my body.

Going from that to hiking with thin and moister wicking clothes on, shoes instead of boots and a pack that weighs less than half of that was amazing.

Also zero chance of stepping on a bomb

cellardoor036 karma


sohikes14 karma

Does the hate keep you warm?

onlytech_nofashion1 karma

Also zero chance of stepping on a bomb

been deployed ?

sohikes1 karma


onlytech_nofashion1 karma

Where to?

sohikes1 karma


nypvtt0 karma

You'll need the ankle support of boots for the CDT.

sohikes4 karma

A lot of thru hikers still use trail runners. I'll probably still stick with the Lone Peaks. They recently came out with a mid version of them so I could switch to those if needed

BigDMcQ5 karma

I'm a janitor who's fitness tracker says he walks 10mi a day on average and I fantasize about doing the PCT, how delusional am I?

sohikes6 karma

Do it

somuchfeels4 karma

What if any luxury items do you bring hiking (a book, notepad, etc.)?

Favourite backcountry meal or snack?

sohikes7 karma

Only luxury items for me is camp shoes. For thru hikes you want to go as light as possible.

I crave any kind of junk food. I have already reached a lifetime amount of candy consumed. Hiker hunger is crazy, you only know what it's like on a long backing trip. You will eat anything, even if you are allergic.

TheRealBitBass1 karma

Are you allergic to something? I'm not, but my son is. I've thought this would be a problem for finding food at towns.

sohikes1 karma

I'm only allergic to some nuts like walnuts and cashews but thankfully not peanuts. So grocery shopping wasn't an issue for me

ftrotter3 karma

How was Internet/cell phone access on the trail? DID you carry a cell phone, or books to read at night? Would it be realistic to take a Kindle or something like? Did you ever consider mucking about with solar chargers? Just wondering if I could do this and sustain my Internet addiction?

Semper Fi.


sohikes3 karma

Had decent reception in some spots on trail. Usually you'll have nothing. Books are the #1 thing people send home. They think they'll read but they end up too tired after a full day of hiking and just want to sleep.

Most solar chargers suck. Never heard anything good about them. When we did training in the Mojave desert, every Marine had some kind of solar charger and none of them worked well. Keep in mind, this is the desert so there was powerful sunlight every day.

yourmomwenttocollege3 karma

Hey man! Just finished my AT thru in September and I'm looking to do the PCT as soon as I save enough cash! What were the biggest differences/similarities you found between the two? Is the party crowd less prevalent on the PCT? (please) Congrats and happy trails brotha!

sohikes2 karma

Thanks and congrats on the AT!

I started the AT Feb 8th so there was never a crowd. I was one of the first five to sign in at Harpers Ferry and Katahdin.

The PCT is FAR easier to hike. You should be able to tell if you watch my video. Almost everything is switchbacks, you don't need your hands like on some parts of the AT. Whatever you averaged on the AT you can probably add 5-10 more miles to that.

The views are WAY better on the PCT and it's not even close. You should be able to see this on the video as well. You'll take a picture of something and then take the same picture a few minutes later from a different angle.

You for sure have to pay attention to water in the desert as well as the snow level in the Sierra. Most thru hikers want to arrive at Kennedy Meadows around 6/15. Any earlier in a normal snow year will be very hard to hike, but not impossible. If it's a low snow year and can get there earlier and not have much issue.

You'll probably finish the PCT in the same amount of time (if not faster) than the AT. Even though the PCT is 500 miles longer. It's just easier to do big days. My biggest day on the AT was 33 miles, on the PCT is was 43 and I knew a few people that did 50s.

It hardly ever rains on the PCT. You can expect sunny clear skies almost every day until Washington. From Cali through Oregon it rained on me less than 5 times. In Washington I had some crappy weather. That being said, still carry your rain gear.

If you didn't use the Guthook app on the AT I definitely recommend it on the PCT. I used it every day. It's pretty much the AWOL guide but on your phone.

There are definitely big crowds on the PCT but I passed the big bubble by Kennedy Meadow's.

lf_araujo3 karma

How do you deal with plantar fasciitis?

sohikes3 karma

Never had it.

I stretched every day so that probably helped.

Rusbekistan3 karma

What, from all your travelling, has been the most important lesson you've learnt? Also where's the most beautiful place you found but didn't expect?

Also you're like a god to some of us ngl. Long distance walking has always been a dream, a little different over the pond though...

sohikes9 karma

Hmm. I think the most important thing I learned is to get out travel as much as possible, to experience something. Get away from the cubicle, get away from the internet, the media that tries to brainwash you, all that crap.

Being on trail cut off from society made me realize how fucked up the world was. I'm assuming you're not in the US so you might not understand it. I remember on the AT I took a couple days in town and when I turned on the TV all I heard about was people debating over the color of a dress. Seriously, I couldn't believe it. Every news channel was talking about this as if it really mattered. I couldn't wait to leave the hotel.

On the PCT every time I got into town something terrible happened in the real world. First the shootings in Orlando, the next time in town it was the shootings in Dallas, then when I got into Oregon it was the shootings in LA.

It's much more peaceful and easy on the trail.

gonrada2 karma

Hey so I have hiked on the AT a few times.
Last time I went my pack was close to 45 lb which was just way to much.

Would you mind giving a list of gear/food you carried on both hikes and what you plan to carry on the CDT?

sohikes2 karma

45lbs fully loaded? That's not that bad. My pack got around 50lbs for the AT. You want to keep your baseweight (everything minus food, water and fuel) to 15lbs or less. If you can do that your pack should never be heavier than 35lbs or so.

My PCT gear list is here


I'm still prepping for the CDT. It's still far off so I haven't bought any gear yet.

calebburnett2 karma

What do you do about water?

sohikes2 karma

I had the PCT water report on me at all times in the desert. Always had at least 3L of water with me, 6.5L max but never needed that much. A lot of people need to get rescued in the desert because they didn't carry enough water.

I'm kind of like a camel. I don't need much water to hike. I went up and down Mount Whitney in the snow with only a liter of water consumed.

Every_Name_Is_Tak3n1 karma

I'm jealous, I go through water like out of shape people suck oxygen. Are there a lot of spots to fill up or would you just end up hauling a lot?

sohikes1 karma

In the desert you have to carry a lot of water. Sources can and will go dry and you can't count on water caches. After the desert you can carry less. In the Sierra there were days I would only carry .75L because you crossed a water source every hour and I would just top off

ThirdProcess1 karma

Is there anything you do to increase you body's water efficiency, or is it just natural?

sohikes2 karma

I think it's just natural. I should note that I'm not a sweater, so I retain more water that way. I remember working out with my friends in a gym that had no AC, they would all be dripping sweat but I'd just get a little sticky with sweat and it wouldn't even show through my shirt. I guess Im just lucky in that regard.

In the cold, I know you're suppose to drink more water but I never do. I could hike hours in the cold without needing a sip of water. It got to the point where I realized I was halfway through the day and only drank less than a liter. So I would sit down and chug some just to stay safe

ThirdProcess1 karma

Hmm do you ever have overheating problems? How high is your sodium intake?

sohikes2 karma

Never overheated before. Not sure about sodium intake. Probably an average level.

Jtothep252 karma

How do you afford to?

sohikes3 karma

Saved a lot of money when I was in the Marines. I worked dead end jobs that really sucked but I just pushed through it.

elendil212 karma

Did you stop at Homeplace when you hiked the AT?

sohikes2 karma

Never heard of it

elendil212 karma

The buffet restaurant right by Macafees Knob

sohikes4 karma

I see, maybe next time. I went to the Chinese buffet before going into the Shenandoah NP, forgot what town it was. I had seven plates there. Couldn't walk afterwards and had to call a trail angel

ericwiz79233 karma

Mings Garden! Wiz Nobo 2013, love the Trail talk!

sohikes2 karma

By far the best buffet I have ever been to. It was amazing. The only one that kind of compares was Timberline on the PCT

Yooooomama2 karma

Which was your favorite trail and why?

sohikes2 karma

If I had to do one again it would be the AT because I live on the east coast. That being said, I still wouldn't mind doing the PCT again.

I had the most memories on the AT. I dealt with more weather, had more memorable days and nights. I liked the challenging terrain (most people hate it). Finishing on Katahdin is amazing.

So I'd probably say I favor the AT 60/40 so not much

SansBeanieBoulderer2 karma

Did you use any type of SPOT device or GPS tracker while you were out on any of your hikes? I don't think I saw one on your pack list. If not, how come?

sohikes3 karma

Nope. Didn't feel like I needed it. It's almost impossible to get lost on the PCT or AT. Both trails are very well marked and you see people every day so if something did happen you could get help almost immediately.

If I was bushwacking through the jungles of South America then I probably would carry one. Not the spot though. I'd go with the Delorme InReach. The spot doesn't work well if something bad happens, many people have said this and I had experience with it. Don't depend on that SOS button.

hitchhiketoantarctic2 karma

Very nice.

Are you planning on doing the CDT North to South, or South to North?

sohikes2 karma

Haven't decided yet. Depends on the Colorado winter

hitchhiketoantarctic2 karma


Well it's late October and the Divide is bone dry near Loveland. I know it won't last, but I'm happy that it isn't snowing yet because I've still got stuff to do before the winter sets in!

I've backpacked most of the CDT in the state, and the most snowpacked section was always in the south for me--near the NM border actually. It was often late June before we could get through that.

sohikes2 karma

You live in CO? I always wanted to move there. Maybe after the CDT

hitchhiketoantarctic2 karma


Maybe 13 miles from the divide. I was looking at it when I typed that it was dry, as the sun slipped down below it.

When you do the CDT, send me a DM. If I'm around, I'll get you some pizza or something.

sohikes2 karma

inb4 I'm never seen again, j/k

What is the cost of living over there?

hitchhiketoantarctic2 karma

I'm far enough from the Denver metro area that it's not too bad. Real estate and rent prices aren't astronomical, and I don't notice anything being crazy expensive.

sohikes1 karma

Nice. Maybe I'll just hike back to CO and stay there after the CDT. You guys expecting a crazy snow year at all? Any good resources to keep track of that stuff?

bunnyclam2 karma

Why aren't you answering any questions?

sohikes9 karma

Sorry, took a longer lunch than expected. Also watching the Mich/Mich St game

Cheefo2 karma

Just finished the book "The Lost Mountain" and wanted to know if you have seen the effects of mountaintop removal and if it has affected your trips?

sohikes2 karma

Had to google mountaintop removal. Never had to deal with it.

ericwiz79232 karma

Planning a Nobo or SoBo of the CDT? Also did you get to meet Baltimore Jack while on the AT? Spent quite a bit of time with him in 2013 and I know he passed away in this pass spring. Solid dude and had great stories.

sohikes2 karma

NOBO/SOBO depends on the Colorado winter so I'll have to wait to make that decision. I prefer to go NOBO since that's how I've done the last two trails.

Never met Baltimore Jack. Heard a lot about him though

barenakedecade2 karma

What would you say was the largest problem you encountered without planning for?

sohikes2 karma

On the AT I didn't really plan for anything. I decided a few months prior to do the trail. I had no idea the south got as cold as it did. So that caught me off guard when I got there Feb 8th.

I didn't know you needed a permit for the Smokies until another hiker told me.

PraiseKluex2 karma

What kinds of weather have you had to deal with? Any weather-related tips for future hikers?

sohikes5 karma

Pretty much everything imaginable. Water was freezing within an hour on the AT because I started so early. If you're doing winter hiking, don't carry a sawyer filter, use bleach or aquamira drops instead. The filters will freeze and no longer work. Use widemouth nalgene bottles or else you wont be able to drink due to ice. Obviously, pack warm. I would recommend the thermarest neoair or xtherm for better insulation. Some people will bring that and a regular foam mat. You may or may not need micro spikes.

In the SoCal desert your main concern is water. It's gonna get hot, I remember one day it was 90 by 9AM. A lot of hikers used umbrellas for shade but I didn't like it. Be prepared to wake up early and hike late

Rain sucks. I hate it more than anything when it comes to hiking but you have to prep for it. NEVER omit rain gear. Even in the desert. Just not worth it. A rain jacket and pants don't weigh that much. I have used both a pack cover and a pack liner. I prefer the pack cover. It will keep everything dry whereas a liner will just keep what's inside the liner dry. Your pack will get wet and get heavier.

enlguy2 karma

What do you keep your pack weight to? Water purification system preference? Mail drop or town stop?

sohikes2 karma

I try to keep my baseweight under 15lbs.

Sawyer Squeeze

I prefer in town resupply instead of mail drops if I can. Timing a package can be a bitch.

enlguy1 karma

Yeah, I've always wondered how people effectively manage those. I've always done town stops on my long trips, too.

I'll have to check out the Sawyer Squeeze. Not familiar.

That's LIGHT. And secrets to your gear? Actually, thinking now, my gear is super light, it tends to be food and extras that weigh me down more.

sohikes1 karma

Try and keep your shelter, pack and sleeping bag to around 5lbs. If you can do that your baseweight shouldn't be more than 15. Look at your gear and ask yourself if you NEED it or WANT it. Take what you need, only allow yourself a couple luxury items

enlguy1 karma

My tent and sleeping bag are ultra light, my pack is pretty light. My last trip, I didn't have time to buy a filtration system, and it was only going to be a few days, so I packed all my water, and that's what weighed me down. I'm generally pretty good with this stuff. I just figured with your through-hiking... I mean, I don't even bring a stove or anything, when I do short excursions, I'm living off bars and burritos.

sohikes2 karma

A liter of water weighs a bit over 2lbs so it definitely weighs you down. There's an ultralight subreddit here that can help with your gear

johnnynoname122 karma

I'm black

can you explain "hiking" to me?

I ask that seriously btw..........I don't get hiking......it's like legit "white people stuff" to me lol

sohikes2 karma

You go into the woods and walk with everything you need to sustain yourself on your back.

NoImaginationNicknam1 karma

Did you meet any dangerous animals on the way?

sohikes1 karma

Rattle snakes

onlytech_nofashion1 karma

So, before your trips you have been in the Marines..inbetween dead-end jobs..and afterwards/now ?

sohikes1 karma

Now: Saving for CDT

After: No clue. Kinda sucks. Might have to slave away like most Americans with the 9-5 grind...

sodo_san1 karma

hello and thank you for doing this AMA,my questions are the following: how much did you walk daily? what did you carry with you and what were your brand of shoes? during you hiking journey have you felt a sense of spirituality? do you have any tips for anyone who is planning to hike?

sohikes3 karma

how much did you walk daily?

On the AT is was twenty something a day on a normal day. PCT is much easier to hike so I was going thirties most of the time after the Sierra Nevada

what did you carry with you and what were your brand of shoes?

My gear list is on my blog. On the PCT I wore the Altra Lone Peak 2.5s, four pairs. On the AT I wore Salomon Quest 4D GTX boots.


The top rated review was written my me

stickylava1 karma

I'm a little surprised by the footwear mostly because of water. I can't stand wet feet and squishy socks. I think trail runners would be awful in a rainstorm.

sohikes1 karma

Everything can eventually get wet. If you walk all day in rain or snow your feet will eventually get wet no matter what you're wearing.

In the Sierra Nevada your feet will be wet 24/7. You get used to it. The Altra's I wore breathed VERY well and dried very quickly

sohikes2 karma

during you hiking journey have you felt a sense of spirituality?


do you have any tips for anyone who is planning to hike?

Save money. Research. Go as light as possible but not stupid light. You don't even need to be in shape, anyone can hike depending on terrain. Research where you're hiking

decentwriter1 karma

Do you think it is possible for someone to safely complete one of these thru hikes as a raw vegan, or has anyone you met along the way done this? That would consist of entirely dehydrated fruits and vegetables. I work for REI and hear about people trying this semi-regularly, but they never come back into the store later on, so I'm always curious to know if they dropped off the trail soon after they began or were actually able to finish.

sohikes1 karma

I actually started the PCT with a vegan. He finished in 99 days so yes it's possible. He's done the AT as well

paulthefonz1 karma

Would you walk 500 miles and then would you walk 500 more just to be the man who walks a thousand miles to fall down at your door?

sohikes1 karma

The Proclaimers?

HendrixThePigoo1 karma

How long does this kinda thing take? Like how long did the first two take and about how long will the last one take?

sohikes1 karma

The AT took 129 days, PCT 93 days. I'm not sure about the CDT, probably around 100.

If I did the AT or PCT again it would probably be around 3 months. That's faster than normal though. I believe the average for a thru hike takes 5.5 months or so

paradisevalley101 karma

I know I'm late to the party, but do you have any books (or resources) for someone who is interested in this?

sohikes1 karma

Most people buy Yogis PCT guide. On the AT the AWOL guide it popular.

The best info you'll find is online

Scoogen1 karma

How much does each hike cost you on average?

sohikes2 karma

A hike normally costs 1000 a month. But I splurged a lot on the AT

Scoogen1 karma

Interesting. That cover everything like food and additional supplies when things wear out?

sohikes2 karma

If you buy quality gear nothing is going to wear out on you. The only thing that wore out on me was a Patagonia shirt I wore on the PCT.

But yeah, buying food and lodging on the trail will be your biggest expense. Things add up very quickly. All those 5-10 dollar purchases on junk food will soon turn into hundreds out of your pocket

sgtpandybear1 karma

I am intending on hiking from Kentucky to Iowa, then to California in the spring to see family I haven't seen in over a decade. Any advice you can give?

sohikes1 karma

That seems like a really long hike. Is there a trail that connects those states?

Do as much research as possible. Go as light as possible. It would help that you step off in good shape but not required.

sgtpandybear1 karma

I'm still looking into the route to get there. This is something I've been thinking about in the past couple weeks and I cannot seem to get the idea out of my head. I have been walking 10-15 miles a day, and been sticking to a diet of things I could take with me on my hike.

In the past 3 months I had to break up with my husband due to him abusing me, and then a month later my best friend died from brain cancer. Family seems to be the only thing I've got left and I hardly know anyone in my family because I haven't seen anyone since I was a kid. I figured what better way to get there than to walk this country and try to find the beauty in things. I also want to meet other musicians on the road, learn from them, and busk around where I can.

Any advice on what I should be doing for training and diet?

sohikes1 karma

Damn, sounds like you're going through a lot. Going on a long hike can definitely help.

As far as training goes just get your legs ready for the abuse of walking every day. Go on long runs and practice hikes. I honestly wouldn't worry too much about diet, you're going to lose a ton of weight walking everyday

sgtpandybear1 karma

Any necessary items you suggest taking along? I've read that a lot of people who do these types of long hikes eventually find themselves getting a cart. I was considering going that route to store my musical instruments and also to keep the load off my back. Is this something you might suggest to someone who is in it for the long haul?

sohikes1 karma

A cart? Like a grocery cart? That seems like a pain in the ass to be pushing something along. I would prefer to have it on my back.

What you bring depends on the terrain and weather. Like I said, I don't know anything about Australia so you'll have to research that. Definitely bring some kind of water treatment. I'm assuming it's really sunny over there so maybe an umbrella. The EuroSchirm Swing Liteflex Umbrella is less than 8oz.

sgtpandybear1 karma

I've no clue where you got Australia unless I accidentally said that (late nights at work screw me up sometimes). I'm walking from Kentucky to California. The cart I'm thinking of would be more like a wagon that you pull. I'm going to talk to a friend of mine to see if she can fabricate one to my specifications. It's just something I've been thinking about, I'm not entirely certain if it's a viable option yet.

sohikes1 karma

My bad, thought you were a different redditor who was down under.

I think the wagon would still be a pain in the ass. I would personally just get a bigger pack. I can't imagine pulling a wagon from Kentucky to CA. If you can, go to a gym where they have a sled, add some weight to it and start pulling it around. I doubt you'll want to do that for thousands of miles.

sgtpandybear1 karma

Very valid reasoning. I appreciate your responses. I might be in touch later on. Also, thank you very much for serving your country. My father I am going to go see in California is a marine, I have a lot of respect for you guys.

sohikes1 karma

No problem, man. PM or post here if you have questions

Keyallis1 karma

How much planning goes into an average long distance trip?

sohikes1 karma

A pretty good amount. I didn't do any prep for the AT but a ton for the PCT. There are books you can buy and obviously the internet is very helpful. There are good subreddits here that can help

syldavian_GI1 karma

What are the subreddits you are talking about? I want to do Santiago de Compostella this summer and I am looking for infos.


Ever meet a guy named Red Hawk on the ATT or PCT?

sohikes1 karma


sdonaghy1 karma

Your awesome. All of these are on my bucket list.

Aside from gear how much does it cost to thru hike? I have heard anywhere from 500-3000.

Do you eat dehydrated food or do you have a better cooking system?

How did you work out where to mail stuff? Did you ever miss a package because you were late?

sohikes2 karma

$500? I don't think anyone has done a $500 thru hike. Money spent depends on the person. I spent a shit ton of money on the AT. I started and ended with different sets of gear. I also spent $8,000 in the four months I was on trail. Which is WAY more than the average. It's usually $1,000 a month on trail.

A lot of people do thru hikes with only a few thousand in the bank. You just have to go faster and take fewer days in town.

I ate dehydrated food on the PCT. It was a lot easier and lighter than the Jetboil I used on the AT

I didn't do that many mail drops. I prefer to resupply in town so I get exactly what I need. I used the Guthook app on my iPhone where it lists places for you to mail stuff.

I missed a package one time because I was early by a day.

BabiesLOVEclowns1 karma

What's your secret? Acid?

sohikes3 karma

Not quitting

doubleucubed11 karma

Did you meet or know Yogi? She is a triple crowner. Have you attended zero day for the PCT at Lake Moreno in San Diego?

sohikes1 karma

I bought the Yogi guide, never met her.

I don't believe they had the kick off this year. I wouldnt go to it anyways. Way too crowded and I started after it.

AcrimoniousSear1 karma

As someone who hikes a lot, where would you suggest a beginner start? I've long wished I had the fitness for the AT, but I'm just not there yet. Hopefully one day!

sohikes1 karma

There are a lot of overweight and unfit people that set off on the AT and go the distance. It's all mental. Obviously, being in shape helps but it's not required.

I would suggest just doing weekend hikes, one or two nights. Buy gear at REI and test it on those hikes, if you dont like it, return it and get a full refund for something else.

severs19661 karma

What was the mainstay of what you were eating, and what did you use to cook it before you gave up?

Or: what's the direct link to this info in your blog?

sohikes5 karma

I used the Jetboil SOL on the AT. Stoveless on the PCT

I normal day of eating on the PCT would be...

Breakfast: Mealbar/poptart with energy bar

"Lunch": A energy/protein bar every two hours after breakfast

Dinner: Idahoan mashed potatoes with a packet of tuna

I usually got moving by 6AM for snacks would be at 8/10/12/2/4/6 and dinner around 8ish. If I went late I would have another snack at 8PM and dinner later when I got to camp

FanOfGoodMovies1 karma

Do you need to use sunblock every day?

sohikes2 karma

I never did