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[motivation/hosting fund]

new news: [September 10th, 2022]

I need to do some server upgrades, hence pctplanner will be offline at 1:30pm Saturday September 10th PDT. It shouldn't take long
About PCT Planner
About Craig's PCT Planner

History with useful and useless details:

For my 1996 PCT hike, I created a large Microsoft Excel spreadsheet file using the 1,938 datapoints from both volumes of the PCT guidebooks. This planning program utilizes these data points for trip calculation and graph plots.

Brick Robbins originally supplied me with the idea for a web-based PCT planning program in July of 1997. Since I had more time on my hands than he did, I decided writing a web-based PCT planning program would be a good way to get back into computer programming. The following month I wrote a large majority of the program at my Aunt and Uncle's remote cabin in Alaska. I didn't have a computer (or electricity), just 150 sheets of notebook paper and learning a "Learn Perl in 21 Days" programming book, so development was "slow" to say the least.

I spent the next six months (full of anti-social behavior and a playground load of potty-mouth language) working on the program and placed version 1.0 online on 12/16/97. This served as a historical day in that the world no longer had to rely on basic math and reading skills when planning a PCT hike. Now there was a web-based application that would do all of the dirty work with simple clicks of the mouse. Over the next few months I added a few new features, one of which was a cross section graph generator which nearly doubled the size of the codebase. For the next 2.5 years I put the program on the back burner while I finished up a computer science degree from Portland State University in sometimes cloudy Portland, OR.

I began work on version 3.0 of the PCT Planning Program in the summer of 2000 and it went online in April 2001. This version added user accounts to the system and hiking plans could now be saved. I started The Human Clock a few much later. This site ended becoming popular and thus the PCT Planning Program took a back burner.

In February 2002 I left the USA to go ride my bike around Australia. During the ride I sketched out Version 4.0 of the program. This would allow the user more control over each section and how the plan would look on the screen/etc. I completed about half of the program in 2004 but never got it finished due to the fact that all of my free programming time was wrapped up with the The Human Clock (and later The Human Calendar).

In early 2011, I went to upgrade to PHP version 5.3 and could not due to the fact that the then current (3.0) version of the program used a lot of deprecated function calls, etc. Even worse, the unreleased 4.0 version of the program wasn't worth continuing since many tools I wrote for it had been superseded by many open-source tools, such as the Smarty templating engine and jQuery. I took many ideas from the unreleased version and spent February 2011 rewriting the entire program.

In 2012 I added a lot of new places to start/stop/resupply your PCT hike with, along with the "Live Map", and several other improvements. Enjoy your hike!

Daniel Craig Giffen - April 2012

Nitpicky FAQ:
  • Where does the trail data come from that this program uses?
    The primary distance and elevation data comes from the 2005 edition of the PCT Data book, more information about the PCT data this program uses can be found on the Data Page.

    PCT Guidebook Vol. 2PCT Guidebook Vol. 1 Along with the guidebooks "The Pacific Crest Trail", other datapoints can also be found in "The PCT Data Book", you can purchase them via these money-grubbing referral links. Note the PCT Guidebooks are currently out of print hence their exponential pricing scheme. I would suggest Halfmile's website as an alternative.

  • What routes does the trail data use?
    The data follows the standard PCT route as listed in the guidebooks. The only exceptions are at Crater Lake and Eagle Creek in Oregon which are "official alternate routes". Most PCT hikers take this route because of its scenic beauty and it adds another resupply option. I left out many alternate routes mentioned in the guidebook, such as the sidetrip to Mt. Whitney in California and Diamond Lake Resort in Oregon due to usability concerns. However, the planner allows you to manually add (or subtract) distance and/or elevation gain to each section if you choose one of these alternate routes.

  • Your trail distance is off, why?
    The length of the PCT is one of great debate and mystery. It was listed as 2,638 miles for a long time. Along the PCT, the total distance listed on signs can be up to 300 miles off. Using the 2005 PCT Data book the trail is listed as being 2663.5 miles. Other sites such as postholer.com or Halfmile's Halfmile's PCT Notes list it diffently (and more up to date). Regardless, I have yet to see the trail listed as being longer than 2,680 miles.

    Regardless, the mileages on the PCT generally have stablized in recent years without any signficant changes. The next significant change will most likely be the proposed route through the Tejon ranch.

    Regardless even more, over-analyzing a few miles of discrepancy can be moot since there can be temporary length changes to the trail that you can't plan for. Forest fires can break out and there can sometimes be 1-2 extra days added to a section that can't be planned for until a week or two prior.

  • I have a bunch of questions about the trail, who can I talk to about them? One of the best places to get the most up to date information is to sign up for the PCT Mailing List. Here you can post questions and receive answers on many trail-related questions you might have.

Other stuff:

  • The Pacific Crest Trailway
    This is an online version of a PCT guidebook from 1946. I found it at a library, scanned it, then placed the whole works online during the summer of 2000.

  • The Pacific Crest Trail Association

  • Walking the West
    A documentary about walking the PCT.

  • Paul's Husker Du Pages
    Doesn't really have anything to do with PCT hiking, but I thought I'd at least plug my favorite band here.

  • Human Clock
    Doesn't really have anything to do with PCT hiking either, but I do have photos of a couple PCT hikers on there. I built this site after writing the current version of the PCT program, which explains the lack of updates here. Wait, there are a few clock pictures taken on the PCT and I have clock pictures of a few thru-hikers...so I guess this site is somewhat related to this one!

  • Human Calendar
    A calendar made up of people that changes every day.

  • Lunky.com
    Between February 2002 and March 2003 I rode my bicycle about 13,000 miles around the Australian continent. This is a day by day account of the trip with journal entries and about 12,000 photos for your viewing pleasure.

Disclaimer: all calculations and data are believed to be correct but are not guaranteed.
Please double check the calculations and trail/resupply data before starting a hike.