Author Topic: Thru-hike starting in Mid-May: Doable or Laughable?  (Read 680 times)

The Gatherer

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Thru-hike starting in Mid-May: Doable or Laughable?
« on: February 03, 2017, 10:51:40 PM »
Yo PNTers! Can I ask for your thoughts...

A friend and I are planning to hit the PNT this summer, and the current plan is to complete the thru-hike, one way or another.

I'm aware that July to Sept is generally seen as the season for doing a thru-hike. However - our schedules mean we are thinking of starting the hike in mid-May, and I guess therefore finishing mid-Julyish. I just wanted to ask whether anyone had any views on whether, given the conditions over this period, this was:

a) a realistic aim;
b) realistic but only if we do something different from the standard A -> B route (e.g. flip-flop or suchlike);
c) laughably unrealistic.

I ask this having done very little research myself as yet; I fully intend to. But I thought it was worth asking the question at the outset just in case this was a complete no-hoper! If so we'll perhaps have to scale down the plan.

Any advice much appreciated. And either way hope to see some of out there later this year!



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Re: Thru-hike starting in Mid-May: Doable or Laughable?
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2017, 05:14:06 AM »
I think that's probably too early unless you have experience with and are prepared for technical snow travel. The lowland sections in the Puget Sound and from the western terminus up the Bogachiel River can be hiked year-round but are relatively short, so starting in mid-May and hiking both of them would still leave you with significant snow on the rest of the trail. This kind of flip-flop could potentially be workable in a record-low snow year but this year is going to be normal if not well above average for snow.

If a thru-hike is your goal you'll probably have to adjust your schedules. If you can't get the full time off for a thru there are some spectacular sections you could consider hiking.

Dylan Carlson

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Re: Thru-hike starting in Mid-May: Doable or Laughable?
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2017, 12:38:58 AM »
Although anything is doable, a May trip would be exceptionally difficult, fairly dangerous, and definitely not fun. You'll be much happier if you wait until at least mid-June. From a weather perspective, it doesn't really matter which direction you go - Olympic Park and Glacier Park both remain snow covered until early July.

This graph shows that early May is the maximum snowpack for NW Montana. And by early July the snow is basically gone. You'll be much happier if you wait.