Learn to backpack, navigate, camp and plan food drops along the PCT as you travel through 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 closed for the season. 2018 courses coming soon.
No two Outward Bound expeditions are ever quite the same. Every crew is unique; every route is distinct; and every adventure is dynamic. But one thing remains the same. On each course, students rise to meet exhilarating natural challenges in some of the country’s wildest places – and find strength and determination along the way.
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 on the U.S.– Canada border on the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia. Its corridor through the U.S. is in the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. 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 Nevadas. The route passes through 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and seven national parks.
Thru hiking is a term used in referring 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 U.S. Successfully thru-hiking all three trails is known as the Triple Crown of Hiking. Thru-hiking is a four to six-month commitment that requires thorough preparation and dedication. Although the actual number is difficult to calculate, it is estimated that around 180 out of 300 people who attempt a thru-hike complete the entire trail each year. The Pacific Crest Trail Association estimates that it takes most hikers between six and eight months to plan their trip.
The backpacking section of this course focuses on moving lightly and efficiently along the PCT. Students learn skills such as lightweight backpacking gear, navigation, campcraft, 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 section, allowing for personal coaching along the trail, as well as catering the curriculum to the specific interests and aptitudes of individual course participants.
Solo is an important part of the Outward Bound experience and allows students time to rest, recharge and reflect on their own development towards the end of the course. Solos may vary from a few hours up to three days depending on the length of the course, age and maturity of the students and itinerary of the expedition. During Solo, students set up their own independent campsite near their instructors and spend their time resting, writing in their journal, enjoying the quiet of the wilderness and reflecting on their experience. Instructors will check on the students throughout their Solo. For many students, Solo is both a challenge and a respite and is often a highlight of their course.
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 perfect mountaineering objectives this course. 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.
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