Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is a must for serious hikers on the west coast and through much of the world. While it can be great, you need to keep an eye out for potential critter problems.
The Pacific Crest Trail stretches from the Mexican border to Canada. It contains some of the most beautiful scenery you will see anywhere. The trail is set up in such a way that as much as 80 percent of it can be done with day hikes, which makes it a very attractive option for long weekends.
Since the Pacific Crest Trail is so easy to day hike, many hikers fail to take into account the animals that cross the trail on a daily basis. Of course, this can lead to small inconveniences or horrendous disasters you read about in the newspaper. Here's a list of critters you should keep in mind.
1. Mosquitoes – Where there is water, there seems to be mosquitoes. The sections of the trail in Southern California aren't too bad, but northern areas can be horrendous. As spring comes on, the snow in the mountains starts to melt and you get standing water. During these periods, there can be absolute clouds of mosquitoes in some areas. The area around Klamath should be avoided at all costs in June. Just don't go.
2. Snakes – Most snakes are not confrontational. On the southern sections of the Pacific Crest Trail, you are definitely going to see rattlesnakes. When you do, just calmly walk away from them.
3. Mountain Lions – Mountain lions can be a bit troubling. They are much bigger than you think, weighing as much as a couple hundred pounds. They are also known to track humans on the trail, but attacks are extremely rare. If you do happen upon one, do not run away or start screaming. Mountain lions are predators, so don't act like prey. Just stand there or calmly back away. Try to grab a stick or even a can of mace if you have one.
4. Bears – Black bears can be found in mountain areas, but are fairly harmless. Unlike what you see in movies, these bears tend to eat plants and you don't look appetizing. If you see cubs, absolutely leave the area as calmly, but quickly as possible. Mother bears are very aggressive if they think cubs are in trouble. You don't want to face off with an angry bear.
5. Humans – As with all aspects of society, there are scumbags on trails. If you objectively feel you can handle yourself, don't worry about it. If not, it is best to travel with another hiker you know well on the odd chance you run across a jerk.
In retrospect, that may all sound rather horrific. In truth, those hiking the Pacific Crest Trail rarely run into problems. Just make sure you keep in mind you are in the wild, not your local canyon.