As I’ve previously blogged, my friend Sam Haraldson thru-hiked the Pacific Northwest Trail in July and August of this year. The 1,100 mile hike took him from the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park to the Pacific coast in Olympic National Park.
Sam will be giving a presentation on his hike, titled “Ultralight Thru-Hike of the Pacific Northwest Trail,” at the Midwest Mountaineering Outdoor Adventure Expo in Minneapolis this Saturday at 11 a.m. I’ll be attending and I’d encourage anyone who can to come hear what he has to say about long-distance hiking, ultralight backpacking, and the experience of such a great trek.
As his occasional e-mail dispatches and batches of photos filtered in this summer, I found myself with lots of questions I wanted to ask Sam about his trip. When he returned, we commenced an e-mail interview, which I thought you all might enjoy. I had lots of questions and he had lots of answers, so I’ll split it up into a few parts this week.
“I originally began planning for the Pacific Crest Trail which would have been a five or six month hike and I didn’t feel I could successfully generate enough income for a five or six month hiatus. Also, the PCT would have been a far different social experience as I would have been hiking alongside a few hundred other thru hikers. [Sam told me that there were six other thru-hikers of the PNT this year, none of which he ran into on trail.] The PNT begins in Montana – particularly in Glacier National Park, a place I called lived and worked for a number of years and this personal connection played a big part in my decision.”
The hike was 1136.30 miles by Sam’s apparently very exact records. His total elevation gain was 157,000 feet. He was on trail for 61 days, of which he hiked 57. Those numbers combine to figure that he averaged 19.64 miles/day, not counting days off. He had one epic day in which he hiked 37.90 miles. Yes, I know. That’s crazy.
Over the course of the trek, Sam crossed Glacier, North Cascades and Olympic National Parks. The trail also passed through Flathead, Kootenai, Kaniksu, Colville, Okanogan, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie and Olympic National Forests and the Salmo-Priest, Paysaten, Mt. Baker and Buckhorn Wilderness Areas. He hiked over four mountain ranges, the Rocky, Selkirk, North Cascade and Olympics.
Coming up: Sam’s best and worst days on trail, notes on the ultralight gear he used, and some thoughts on what it all meant.