The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a federally designated National Scenic Trail, a title which is bestowed by Congress upon trails considered to be of particular natural beauty. While the PCT shares this designation with other well-known hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail, its route is generally considered to be unrivaled in its magnificence.

The superlative nature of the scenery along the PCT (as well as the physical challenge of hiking it) is made clear upon even a cursory glance at its route. From its southern terminus on the U.S.-Mexico border, the PCT follows 2,650 miles of desert, old-growth forest, and mountainous terrain before reaching its northernmost point in Manning Park, Canada. Any thru-hiker who successfully completes this odyssey will have ventured through 3 states, 7 national parks, 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas, and 6 out of 7 of North America’s terrestrial ecozones. Answering the call of this pristine strip of wilderness are the more than 300 individuals per year who set out on the trail with a continuous thru-hike in their sights. Yet, of this group of intrepid adventurers, only approximately 40% of them will attain this goal while the remainder leave the trail as a result of injuries, emotional distress, weather, and other reasons.