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Excerpted from Yogi's PCT Handbook. For more information, visit www.pcthandbook.com

ADZPCTKO - "The Kick Off"

I recommend attending the ADZPCTKO: Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off. This is a hiker gathering at Lake Morena Campground, which is on the PCT at mile 20.6. The Kick Off usually happens the last weekend of April. Check the website [http://pct77.org/adz/] for the official dates. If for some reason that website changes, either do a web search for ADZPCTKO or watch PCT-L [http://mailman.backcountry.net/pipermail/pct-l] for information on the Kick Off.

The Kick Off is GREAT! It was organized in 1999 by a few 1977 PCT thru-hikers who wanted to help out current hikers. By 2004, the Kick Off had grown to attract over 400 people. Youíll meet former, current, and future PCT hikers, trail angels, trail groupies, and lightweight gear reps. Youíll get to know your fellow hikers, and if for no other reason, go just to get Meadow Edís water information. Oh, and they feed you. Check out the website for more information.

Gottago (2002): Even though itís not easy for me to be around large groups of people for extended periods of time, I loved the adrenaline rush I got from being around other excited, nervous hikers who didnít think I was crazy for wanting to do a long hike. I enjoyed starting off with the large group of hikers. Right away, bonds developed. Immediately, I felt like I belonged. Like I fit in.

Mags (2002): It should be noted that if you attend the Kick Off party, it will mean that you will be hiking with a large group of hikers from Mexico up until Kennedy Meadows. For those who want somewhat of an AT experience to ease them into the PCT environment, it may be good to attend this weekend. If you want more of a solo experience, plan on starting before or after the Kick Off. Think of the Kick Off as the PCTís very low-key version of the ATís Trail Days.

d-low (2002): A great party, but I hated the crowds on the trail leaving the Kick Off. Consider starting a week before the ADZ and hitching back for it.

Garlic Man (2003): I enjoyed it. The biggest benefit for me was that it gave me a starting time to focus on that I could not change. Does that say anything about my self-discipline?

Tin Cup (2003): Excellent! Valuable water information, good time to meet fellow hikers, and great entertainment.

Gnome (2003): The Kick Off was not necessary. It was a nice opportunity to meet other hikers past, present, and future. Also a good source of gear, trail, and water info. But nothing you wouldnít probably learn on the trail anyway.

Special Agent (2003): Go to the Kick Off, have lots of fun, just donít try to sleep next to someone who is playing Skynyrd all night long.

Cupcake (2002): Go the year before your hike to pick up tips, scope out the scene, and bring some reality to your dreams and planning. I found that it made my Ďrealí Kick Off a lot easier. I knew the format and some of the faces, so the Kick Off didnít add to the anxiety of starting my thru-hike.

Free Radical (2003): I thought the Kick Off was great and will try to attend in again in the future.

Teatree (2003): I donít think it needs to be 2 days long. I also think it could be later. If you truly believe that thru-hikers shouldnít leave Kennedy Meadows before June 15, then I think the Kick Off should be later. We had to take like a thousand zeros and we still left KM on June 14. I think otherwise though, the Kick Off is a totally awesome idea. I love Bob Riess!

Belcher (2003): The Kick Off was great. I thought the information obtained there was invaluable for the hike.

Bandana (2003): It was such a high. I had never been in an environment before where people I didnít know would just start talking to me. There was so much encouragement and I loved it.


Copyright 2005 Jackie McDonnell. Used by permission.