Hiking the PCT: How climate change is ruining the Pacific Crest Trail

  • Thousands of people each year set off to hike from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail, popularized by Cheryl Strayed’s book “Wild.”
  • But most won’t make it. That’s because hiking more than 2,600 miles requires traversing deserts, mountain passes and snowstorms.
  • Increasingly there’s a new challenge: Portions of the storied Pacific Crest Trail keep getting closed due to wildfires.
  • The closures are raising questions about whether future generations will be able to complete the epic journey in a single year.

When Carolyn Burkhart walked from Mexico to Canada 46 years ago, she pieced together her route along remote trails and logging roads, navigating with torn paper maps and a 50-pound pack bouncing on her back.

Her hike along the vaguely defined Pacific Crest Trail took six months, as she trekked through forests and deserts, across snowy mountain passes, out of touch for weeks at a time. Occasionally crossing paths with hikers making the same epic journey, she’d compare notes about finding their way.

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