Hiker: Scott Jurek, ultrarunning champion
executive summary by darmansjah
Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail has been a lifelong dream. The sheer beauty and variety of the great Pacific mountain ranges along with the journey of a long thru-hike traversing the U.S. north to south has been the main allure. While I have many trails on my list all over the world, exploring my own country ranks highest. In fact, I am heading off today with my wife for a weeklong section hike of the PCT! —Scott Jurek
Length: 2,650 miles
The Details: Alongside the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) anchors the trifecta of big daddy thru-hikes in the United States. Each claims a distinct history, beauty, and province over a chunk of North American geography, but the PCT may be the most grand, running across the country via the heights of the lordly Sierra and Cascade ranges.
It’s no easy accomplishment to tick off in one attempt, requiring savvy logistics and resupply (especially when it comes to long stretches sans civilization), good luck with the weather, and fleet feet. The reward is a grand tour of seven national parks and a continent’s worth of national forests, state parks, and wilderness areas. On the journey, hikers tromp through the Mojave Desert, summit 13,153-foot Forester Pass between Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, stride along in Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows, make their way into the volcanoes of the Cascades via Lassen Volcanic National Park, and end up in British Columbia’s E.C. Manning Provincial Park.
When to Go: Most hikers begin on the Mexican border in April and finish in October. The trick is to miss the spring snow in the Sierra and fall snow in the Cascades.
About Jurek: Scott Jurek is tough to beat. The ultrarunner has won most of the sport’s big events, including the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run (seven times in a row from 1999 to 2005), Badwater Ultramarathon (twice), the Hardrock 100-Mile Endurance Run, Spartathon, and the Ultramarathon Caballo Blanco. He once held the U.S. record for distance run in 24 hours (167.5 miles!) and held course records at Western States and Badwater. He’s also a passionate vegan, which he claims improves his performance, overall health, bank account, and sheer enjoyment of food. In the book Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012), he explains his plant-based philosophy and how it has made him a running machine.