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Early on the PCT

Posted on January 01 2024

1. Poison Oak

Encountering poison oak or poison ivy is a possibility while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), as these plants can be found in certain areas along the trail. Here are some tips to help you minimize the risk of exposure and deal with it if you come into contact with these plants:

  1. Learn to Identify Poison Oak and Poison Ivy: Familiarize yourself with the appearance of poison oak and poison ivy. They typically have three leaflets, with poison oak often resembling oak leaves and poison ivy having pointed leaflets. Be cautious around plants with leaves of three.

  2. Stay on the Trail: Wherever possible, stick to established trails to minimize your chances of coming into contact with poison oak or poison ivy. These plants are more likely to be found in overgrown areas off the trail.

  3. Wear Protective Clothing: Consider wearing long pants, long sleeves, and closed-toe shoes or boots to provide a physical barrier between your skin and the plants. Tucking your pants into your socks or wearing gaiters can help prevent contact with the plants.

  4. Use Barrier Creams or Lotions: Applying a barrier cream or lotion, such as a product containing bentoquatam, can help provide an additional layer of protection against poison oak and poison ivy oils. Follow the instructions on the product and reapply as needed.

  5. Wash Your Skin and Gear: If you suspect you've come into contact with poison oak or poison ivy, wash the affected area with soap and water as soon as possible. Avoid touching other parts of your body after contact to prevent spreading the oils. It's also advisable to wash your clothes and gear to remove any residual oils that may have been transferred.

  6. Familiarize Yourself with Treatment Options: In the unfortunate event that you develop a rash from poison oak or poison ivy, it's helpful to know how to manage the symptoms. Over-the-counter remedies such as calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream, or antihistamines can help relieve itching and discomfort. If the rash is severe or you experience an allergic reaction, seek medical attention.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to avoiding poison oak or poison ivy. By staying informed, taking precautions, and being vigilant while hiking, you can minimize the risk of exposure and enjoy your PCT journey.

2. Blisters!!!!

adlib: At 2 Foot Adventures, we see a lot of feet. Why you may ask? Blisters. It is beyond comprehension, yet we fully understand why. When you start hiking the PCT, your feet will enlarge, and when this occurs, your hiking shoes become too small, and too small means your feet won't be happy. When you start to develop the hot spots, it is important to address the issue, and not let it get out of hand. We have a lot of experience when it comes to blisters, and will be happy to take care of you and get you back on trail, come see us in Julian.

Developing blisters is a common concern for hikers, especially in the early stages of a long-distance hike like the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Here are some tips to help reduce the incidence of blisters:

  1. Proper Footwear: Start by ensuring you have well-fitting, broken-in hiking boots or trail shoes. Ill-fitting footwear can cause friction and pressure points, leading to blisters. Take the time to find shoes that provide proper support, have enough room for your toes, and fit comfortably without being too loose or too tight.

  2. Socks: Invest in moisture-wicking and breathable hiking socks made of synthetic or merino wool materials. These types of socks help keep your feet dry and reduce friction. Avoid cotton socks, as they tend to retain moisture and can contribute to blisters.

  3. Foot Care: Take good care of your feet by keeping them clean, dry, and well-maintained. Wash your feet regularly and air them out whenever possible. Drying your feet thoroughly after stream crossings or sweaty hiking can help prevent excess moisture that can contribute to blister formation.

  4. Lubrication: Apply a lubricant or anti-friction product to areas prone to blistering. Common options include petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline), specialized blister prevention products (like Magoo's Magic or Trail Toes), or even using a thin layer of zinc oxide tape or moleskin on high-friction areas.

  5. Break-in Period: Gradually break in your footwear before starting the PCT. Wear them on shorter hikes or walks to allow your feet to adjust and identify any potential discomfort or hot spots. This can help prevent blisters from forming in the early stages of your thru-hike.

  6. Manage Hot Spots: If you feel a hot spot or irritation developing on your foot while hiking, address it promptly. Stop and take the necessary steps to reduce friction, such as adjusting your socks, loosening your laces, or applying moleskin or a blister prevention patch.

  7. Foot Care Kit: Carry a small foot care kit with items like moleskin, blister pads, athletic tape, and a small pair of scissors. These items can be helpful for addressing hot spots or blisters that do occur. Treating blisters early can prevent them from worsening or becoming infected.

Remember, everyone's feet are unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It's essential to experiment with different techniques and products during your training hikes to find what works best for you. Additionally, monitoring your feet regularly and taking proactive steps to prevent blisters can go a long way in ensuring a more comfortable and enjoyable hiking experience on the PCT.

3. The wrong gear / gear failure

At 2 Foot Adventures, we understand the importance of having the right gear for an enjoyable and hassle-free hike on the PCT. We've compiled a list of common gear issues that can turn your experience into a nightmare. Here are the items we often come across:

a) Footwear: Ill-fitting shoes can lead to discomfort, blisters, and foot pain, making your hike a real struggle.

b) Sleeping Pads: A malfunctioning or leaky sleeping pad can disrupt your sleep and leave you feeling unrested and fatigued.

c) Warm Layer (gloves, fleece): Inadequate insulation from gloves or fleece jackets can leave you feeling cold and uncomfortable, especially in colder temperatures.

d) Backpacks: Bulky and heavy backpacks can strain your back and shoulders, making your hike more arduous and tiring than it needs to be.

e) Tents: Issues with tents, such as poor construction or insufficient weather resistance, can leave you exposed to the elements and compromise your comfort and safety.

f) Sleeping bag / quilt: A sleeping bag or quilt that is not suitable for three-season use can leave you shivering in colder temperatures, leading to sleepless nights and decreased energy during the day.

Additionally, broken gear like trekking poles with worn-out tips or malfunctioning flip locks, tent poles that have snapped, and zippers that are dirty or no longer functioning can cause frustration and hinder your progress on the trail.

But worry not! At 2 Foot Adventures, we're here to assist you in getting back on the trail with the right gear. We'll help you find suitable replacements, offer advice on gear selection, and ensure you have everything you need for happy and successful trails.




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