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You’ll find those same services to be less stretched while traveling south.

Honestly, it’s often life circumstances that dictate the direction you’ll go. SOBO is short for southbound, as in, a southbound thru-hike.

Starting a southbound hike is a bit of a logistical problem as it’s illegal to enter the United States from Canada via the PCT. You’re likely going to start your hike in the United States from Hart’s Pass.

Entering the North Cascades early is quite risky, but being in the Sierra later in the year can work (unless a large storm comes through!

) All in all, we think that southbounders have a bit of a shorter window.

Substantial backcountry expertise, avalanche awareness, partners, good equipment, plans and physical fitness are necessary.

The PCT is generally routed along very steep slopes below jagged ridgelines.

Jumping around and piecing together sections as you desire, perhaps over several years, is an absolutely fantastic way to experience the PCT. The regular Sierra resupply points may already be closed, but the first significant snow storms usually start hitting the Sierra in early to mid-October. Being in the mountains during an early season snowstorm can kill you.

Very experienced hikers have learned this the hard way.

The question of when it will snow in the Sierra defines a southbound thru-hike. The first snow storm could drop a few inches, or it could drop feet.

It could happen in late September, or not until January.

If more hikers went southbound, the collective impact of thru-hikers on the trail could be reduced.

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