Today we enjoyed a day off in Idyllwild. Tomorrow we start a five day stretch into Big Bear. I had some questions regarding differences between the AT and the PCT.
Thus far here are my impressions:
The AT tends to summit as many peaks as possible on steep terrain designed for foot traffic only. Many times it feels like pointless ups and downs. The PCT follows a smoothly graded trail that zigs and zags gradually uphill or downhill all day long. The miles are much easier and our bodies in general feel much less beat up. While we have already reached higher elevations than the highest point on the AT, the total change in elevation from day to day is much less. The weather on the other hand is more extreme. Although there is less rain and humidity, we’ve already had more snow and more variations in temperature.
Gear is holding up well. We have the same tent which is still performing well, new sleeping pad and quilt which we are loving, and so far no major issues gear wise.
I planned most of our food boxes, and our new menu items this year are dehydrated refried beans with rice, powdered cheese, and tortilla chips; ramen noodles with powdered coconut milk and peanut butter; and for breakfast Carnation instant breakfast with powdered whole milk and instant coffee. The heat so far has been suppressing the appetites a little.
No major wildlife yet, but my bird list is about 20 species so far. I almost brought a monocular and ditched it at the last minute and sometimes wish I had it. Much wider views on this trail allow for more birding than the tree covered AT.
There last major difference in the trails is that the AT has shelters and the PCT does not. The crowds are also slightly smaller. This makes for smaller groups at campsites, which has also been nice. We’re only 180 miles in so I’m sure my impressions will change somewhat.