INSPIRING PACIFIC CREST TRAIL PHOTOGRAPHY
1000 MILES ON THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL SHOWN IN PICTURES.
The Pacific Crest Trail is one of the most amazing and extraordinary things we at Perusing The Planet have ever done. Let our pictures inspire you to embark on the same journey we did back in 2018.
Here are some of our most inspiring photos from our 3 month adventure.
We spontaneously decided to we would like to hike for 3 months on the Pacific Crest Trail when we were in Mongolia. We were enjoying the adventurous feel of the country, and spontaneously booked flights to LA. We had minimal experience on long distance hikes, and no idea what to expect, but we liked the sound of it, so committed.
Our hike began in May 2018, and we flew home at the beginning of August the same year. The 3 months in between were some of the hardest, most rewarding and totally incredible of our lives. We started in Big Bear Lake and ended in Lake Tahoe.
We moved slow. Really slow. When we were walking, we were moving a normal pace, but when we got to town, we had a bad habit of staying there for a little too long (we stayed in the town of Bishop for a whole week… not because we were injured or stuck there, we just didn’t want to leave our comfy motel bed and fast food).
Although the entire trail was beautiful, the section that stands out in our minds is the John Muir Trail, from Kennedy Meadows South, to Tuolumne Meadows. The scenery in this section is some of the most outstanding that we have ever seen (comparable to that on our Everest Base Camp trek in December 2019).
When we first set off from Big Bear, our backpacks weighed so much we could barely lift them. We were carrying almost 8 days worth of food, and around 4 litres of water each. Those first few day were such a struggle, I worried we would never make it past Big Bear. Luckily, we found a way to carry only what we needed and save weight on food and water. Our shoulders and backs got much, much stronger, and by the end of our 1000 mile journey, we were powering up mountains with our giant backpacks.
We are great believers that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on gear in order to have an adventure, and this was no exception. The most we spent on any one piece of gear was just $120, and that was our REI tent (which is still going strong to this day, even after another 3 month trip across the West Coast of the US). We took the backpacks we had as we backpacked across Asia, and bought only what we genuinely needed.
What did we eat? Well, being true budget backpackers at heart, we just couldn’t see how people could live on Mountain House meals for the whole trek ($5-8 per meal!). We did once end up acquiring a “biscuits and gravy” by Mountain House. It was the most disgusting thing we had ever eaten. We really didn’t see the hype on these freeze dried packs of slop. Instead, we were cheap and stuck to the classics: mash, ramen, tortilla wraps, rice sides and oatmeal. Saving us a BOMB (cost: $1 a meal)!
Some of our campsites were totally unreal. We would set up camp on any flat patch of ground big enough for our 2-man tent. Sometimes, these sites would be overlooking lakes, rivers or incredible vistas. Truly better than any paid campground we have ever stayed in!
There’s a lot of awesome people on the trail. There’s a strange ritual of re-naming people on the trail with “trail names”. These names are usually loosely linked to something they have/ have done/ said etc., and bear no resemblance to their actual names. It’s strange, but sometimes, you will hike for months alongside someone, and never actually know their real name, only their trail name.
Our favourite person (and trail name) on the hike was a guy called “Metric Ton”, who adopted the name because his backpack was so big and heavy.
A ‘thru hike’ is a hike that begins and ends at the official start and finish of the trail. The people that thru hike start at the Mexican border in Southern California, and walk all the way up to the Canadian border in Washington state. It generally takes around 4 – 5 months to complete the whole trail.
Some of these bodies of water became our drinking water sources. In the desert, water was so scarce that we were forced to drink from old water tanks with dead animals in them. In the Sierras, however, water was abundant and delicious. We used a Sawyer Filter for our water purification. This meant that we could just take any water we found: lakes, rivers etc.. It was by far the tastiest water we’ve ever drank. I’m not sure if we were just grossly dehydrated, but it tasted as good as the finest bottled water.
Out of all of our 20 favourite Pacific Crest Trail pictures, every single one is from the 500 mile section in the Sierras. That’s not because the desert wasn’t beautiful (quite the opposite – we thought the desert was an incredible, mysterious place), but because the Sierras were just SO picturesque. I filled 3 memory cards with over 3000 photos from the Sierras! I could’ve probably taken more!
Although I love my camera, carrying a DSLR for 1000 miles would have been too heavy. Instead, I opted to bring my mirrorless Olympus OMD EM10 Mark iii with an 18 – 50mm and a 50mm – 200mm lens. When wearing a large backpack, my preferred method for carrying this camera is usually in a bumbag (fanny pack). This means it is always within reach, but I can be handsfree! That’s how I got my Pacific Crest Trail pictures.
If you’re feeling inspired, check out our 10 must-know facts before hiking the PCT. If you’re looking for a little more inspiration for your next adventure, check out our photography post on the Everest Base Camp trek.
For how to hike the PCT on a budget, click here.
OUR PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR
LAPTOP – Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch
SMALL CAMERA – Olympus OMD- E-M10 Mark II
ZOOM LENS – Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm Lens
DSLR BODY – Canon 60D
WIDE ANGLE LENS – Sigma 10-20mm Lens
DRONE – DJI Mavic Pro
ACTION CAMERA – GoPro Hero 7 Black Edition
MICROPHONE – Rode VideoMicro
CAMERA BAG – Lowepro Fastpack 250 AW II