Megan Apple accomplished an amazing fete last summer…she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in its entirety. The trail gained notoriety in the 2014 film “Wild” starring Reese Witherspoon. The PCT’s southern terminus is just south of Campo, California (about an hour south of San Diego on the US-Mexican border) and ends 2,653 miles later in Manning Park, British Columbia (on the US-Canada border). Apple started in April and traversed California, Oregon, and Washington State on her adventure. She turned 28 years old just before she reached the end of the PCT in September.
I’ve known Megan her entire life and although very impressed, I’m not surprised that this determined young woman did exactly what she planned and set out to do.
Her parents, Holly & Andy Apple, have always supported Megan and her adventurous ways. She graduated from Whitefish High School then attended Idaho State University and earned her degree in Outdoor Education. As a youngster, she spent many weekends with her family at their cabin north of Polebridge, MT just a few miles from the Canada border. She was always venturing off into the woods there exploring nature. She recalls, “When I was in 5th grade I had the thought to do a Maine to Washington border walk.”
When asked what her motivation was for wanting to hike the PCT she said, “It is just a cool adventure. One of the biggest that you can do in the U.S.”
Megan hiked for a month on the PCT two years before her 2019 completion. She had the time off work and thought it would be fun, so she wanted to try it out. She really enjoyed her time on the trail and decided to do the whole PCT in the future.
She started preparations months before she took her first step. She gathered gear from her previous trip and did an inventory of what might be needed for her voyage.
Megan said, “I did some hikes, but you can’t really prepare for hiking 20 miles a day for days on end.”
It wasn’t just the supplies she’d need on the journey as there is no way she could start out with the full load. She had to coordinate the delivery of supplies at trail angel houses and post offices along the way. It was just Megan and her pack, so she had to meticulously plan her entire trip.
“Finding the right shoes was my biggest issue,” she said. She explained that trail runners are great, but they rip up easily. Hiking boots are good, but they are heavy. Ultimately, she used five pair of trail runners plus a sturdier boot that she ended up getting rid of on the trail.
When she arrived at the start, she overnighted with a trail angel where she was fed and spent the night.
Trail angels are a significant part of the PCT. They provide numerous forms of assistance to hikers including offering their yards and homes for camping or bunking, rides to and from the trailhead, food, shelter, receiving resupply boxes, stocking water caches in the desert, allowing you to fill up on water at their homes, and so much more.
“The Trail angel community is amazing,” said Megan. She continued, “They take you in, provide food and shelter, and so much more to help you achieve your goal. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
The first 300 miles through the California desert is “really easy” according to Megan. That jaunt took 15 days. The mind-boggling part is that at this point she still has 2,353 miles to go. For the entire PCF, it took Megan 5 months and 3 days. I should also note that although she certainly wasn’t trying, she lost 22 pounds in that period of time.
She has so many incredible memories that she’ll be able to share for a lifetime. She recalled a time in the Sierras at Muir Pass (11,969 feet) with a friend, Lefty. It was a long tough trail in the snow, but the sun was shining, and they ran into some fellow hikers and found a hut to hang out in together.
Like Lefty, Megan received a trail nickname as well…she became known as Sprout. I’m guessing in this circle she will always be known as Sprout.
As you can imagine, Megan said that there was a lot more traffic on the south part of the trail. At that time, she’d pass a couple people each day. As she ventured north there would be longer gaps of seeing civilization, but typically, there would be a town every 3 or 4 days.
Climbing Mather Pass (12,100 feet) was the scariest part of the PCT for Megan. “It was very challenging with a heavy pack,” she said. Then she encountered a stream and added, “I was scooting across a log to cross the stream and if I slipped, I’d be swept up by the current,” she said.
In addition to the trail angels, Megan said she couldn’t have done it without her family including her parents, grandparents, and her aunt. They supplied both moral and supply support throughout the journey.
When asked if she had any advice to pass along to someone considering hiking the PCT, she said, “You don’t have to do the whole thing to experience the PCT. Just a week is enough to experience the culture. Doing any section is totally worth it.”
Is there another hike like the PCT in her future? She said that she is interested in the more remote trails that require more planning like the Idaho Centennial Trail at 900 miles. “If I do 5 months again, I would go to another country that isn’t necessarily in a place that is so familiar,” she added.
How did Megan follow up her PCT fete? This winter the adventures continued when she managed a Heli-ski lodge about 2 ½ hours from Anchorage, AK. She’ll be back in Whitefish for a bit then this summer she’s planning to work at an organic vegetable farm outside of Seattle.
I personally love hearing about her travels and realize she just may be someone that has figured out the key to happiness is living life to its fullest.
Interested in learning more about the Pacific Crest Trail, visit pcta.org.