This backpacking course is designed to prepare and train you to tackle the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and other long distance hiking trails on your own. It is also designed so that if you desire, after course you can continue North on the PCT all the way to Canada.
Learn ultra-light philosophies, navigation, resupply, budgeting, and logistical strategies that will prepare you for your future hike while traveling through some of Oregon’s most stunning and varied landscapes. At various points along the trail, learn more about trail maintenance, land stewardship and the PCT itself as you participate in a variety of service projects in coordination with the Pacific Crest Trail Association. Although there are plenty of opportunities for rest and reflection during the course, this is the challenge of a lifetime, with four weeks of skill development, backcountry living and physical and mental demands. Depending on the group fitness level, your crew could complete close to 300 miles of the PCT. This course is designed to accommodate all skill levels but is geared toward those who are interested in building skill sets for a section hike or thru-hike of any long distance hiking trail.
This course is closed for the season. 2020 courses coming soon.
Do you ever want to unplug, step away from the daily grind to take on new challenges? Are you ready to conquer harder skills and remind your senses (or discover for the first time) what it’s like to crest a mountain peak, hear the echoes at the edge of a vast canyon or feel the rush of white water spray on your face? Take a break from your routine, radically change your surroundings and test your tenacity. Put some “firsts” in front of you and find moments of unexpected discovery along the way. Experience Outward Bound as an adult and prepare for an injection of adventure, awareness and adaptability that sticks with you long after you unpack your backpack.
Return home with newly expanded wilderness abilities, an energized outlook, a rekindled allowance of empathy into situations and relationships and an eye toward the future.
The Pacific Crest Trail (commonly abbreviated as the PCT, and officially designated as the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail) is a long-distance hiking and equestrian trail closely aligned with the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges, which lie 100 to 150 miles east of the U.S. Pacific coast. The trail's southern terminus is on the U.S. border with Mexico and its northern terminus is at the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia. The PCT corridor heads through the states of California, Oregon and Washington in the United States. The Pacific Crest Trail is 2,663 miles long and ranges in elevation from just above sea level at the Oregon–Washington border to 13,153 feet at Forester Pass in the Sierra Nevada. The route passes through 25 national forests and 7 national parks.
Thru-hiking is a term used in reference to hikers who complete long distance trails from end-to-end in a single trip. The Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail and Continental Divide Trail were the first three long-distance trails in the United States. Successfully thru-hiking all three trails is known as the Triple Crown of Hiking. Thru-hiking the PCT is a four to six-month commitment that requires thorough preparation and dedication. The Pacific Crest Trail Association estimates that it takes most hikers between six and eight months to plan their trip beforehand. One of the goals of this course is to give those who are interested in taking on this challenge (whether section-hiking or thru-hiking) the skills and confidence they need to safely succeed.
We will focus on moving lightly and efficiently along the PCT. Students learn skills such as using lightweight backpacking gear, navigation, camp-craft, Leave No Trace and hiker etiquette, diet and trail safety. Each day presents a different focus, with ample time for experiential learning. The Instructor-to-student ratio is never more than 1:5 during this course, allowing for personal coaching along the trail, as well as catering the curriculum to the specific interests and aptitudes of individual course participants. During three days of preparation at the Outward Bound base camp you will get to work with guest speakers who have each logged thousands of individual trail miles.
Service to others and to the environment is a core value of Outward Bound and is integrated into each course. Groups follow Leave No Trace ethics as part of their service to the environment and engage in acts of service while leading and supporting fellow participants. Seeing the impact of their actions firsthand, students develop an ingrained appreciation of service and transfer this desire to serve their communities back home.
In order for profound learning to take place, students need time to reflect on their experience, and Solo is that opportunity. The Solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition and gives students the opportunity to reflect on their Outward Bound experience. With sufficient food and equipment, students will set up camp at sites of their own choosing, using the wilderness skills learned during the first portions of the course. The amount of time students spend on Solo is based on length of course, weather, student condition, age, and Instructor preference. Solo campsites are chosen to offer as much solitude as possible (yet be within emergency whistle-signaling distance of other group members). Most students spend their Solo time journaling, drawing, reflecting, thinking and resting as they process lessons of the course to focus on their goals for the future. Instructors check on each participant at regular intervals, as safety is always the top priority.
This course provides an opportunity for students to learn and practice the ideas of leadership, character development, and service that are integral to Outward Bound. Students will develop and apply these skills in an expedition setting so that they can continue to grow once they return home. As a team, each group will work together to complete difficult tasks necessary for backcountry travel and expedition living. Instructors will work to challenge each student to try new things and step outside their comfort zones, as well as provide feedback that can be acted upon before course end. On this PCT journey, students will also learn the philosophies of lightweight backpacking and long distance hiking. This course provides ample solitude for reflection and integration of skills learned.
Central Cascades, Oregon
Volcanoes dot the spine of the Cascade Mountains, rising over 10,000 feet above the forests, lakes, and rivers of the surrounding region. These glaciated peaks run North and South and create the crest along which you travel. The Central Cascade range is home to the Three Sisters, Broken Top, Mt. Washington, three Fingered Jack and Mt. Jefferson. Four 10,000 foot glaciated volcanoes are present in this course area, with a total of nine major volcanoes. One can find a unique blend of dry east side and moist west side weather conditions, which allow diverse types of vegetation to flourish. The area has a complex geologic history that continues today. Active glaciers methodically carve away the mountains and the dramatic traces of avalanches that altered the landscape can be found throughout.
The Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,660-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North America’s eco-zones and offers one of the longest most rugged and challenging hikes in the world. The trail's southern terminus is on the U.S. border with Mexico and its northern terminus is on the U.S.– Canada border on the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia. Long-distance backpacking and the Pacific Crest Trail itself are notably rising in popularity, quickly becoming an icon for those seeking a challenging and transformative adventure of a lifetime.
If you are ready to enroll on a course click the enroll button next to the course you wish to select or you can enroll over the phone by speaking with one of our Admissions Advisors (toll-free) at 866-467-7651.