I am, by far, not the first person to want to use a hammock on the PCT. Most people will take a lightweight tent, or simply cowboy camp, but I believe that the better you sleep, the better you will recover from the days hiking, and the better you will perform the following day. I’ve slept on the ground for many years and have never really gotten very good sleep. Lately, since I started hammock camping, I’ve been getting some of the best sleep I’ve ever had, and this is why I want to take my hammock when I hike the PCT.
A question I see a lot is how do you hang your hammock when you’re in the desert, and the simple answer is this. Wherever you can. The desert section of the PCT isn’t exactly what most people envision when they think of the desert. Most people think endless sand dunes with not a tree in sight. I’ve watched many thru hikers trail videos and asked a lot of questions and the conclusion that I’ve come to is that the desert section of the PCT, while is in fact a desert, does still have plenty of spots to hang a hammock.
Over on hammockforums.net there is a thread about hiking the PCT with a hammock and several people have done it before. When asked, some people will suggest that you don’t take a hammock until you hit the Sierra mountains, while others insist that you’ll be fine with a hammock the entire way. I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to find spots to hang every night. However, just to cover my bases, I’m going to bring 7 or 8 sections of my Thermarest Z-Lite sleeping pad instead of my underquilt for the desert section. This will do a few things for me;
- I can use it as my bottom insulation in the hammock when I am hanging.
- I can use it to go to ground with when I have no place to put up my hammock.
- I can use it to lay/sit on during mid-day breaks.
To point #3, I bring 4 sections of the same pad as a sit pad every time I go out as it is, so this won’t be much different for me. I think this is probably the best set-up until I reach an area where finding a place to hang is no longer an issue.
Luke Sierrawalker, in 2012, posted some spots where you can hammock camp on his postholer.com blog…
The following is pulled from his post.
I tried to recall good hammock camping areas in southern SoCal, hoping this might help future hammock hikers (in a northbound order, with Halfmile’s mileage):
- 16 Hauser Canyon
- 20 Lake Morena Campground
- 24-27 Cottonwood Valley and Boulder Oak Campground
- 37-38 Long Canyon
- 40-49 Mount Laguna area
- 53 Pioneer Mail Picnic Area
- 77 Scissors Crossing
- 101 Barrel Spring
- 108-109 Canada Verde Canyon
- 111-113 Agua Calliente Creek Canyon
- 115-116 Agua Calliente Creek Canyon
- 120 Lost Valley Spring
- 126 some trees right next to trail
- 128.5 some trees
- 140 Nance Canyon
- 152 trees near hwy 74 and Paradise Valley Cafe
- 168-194 San Jacinto Mountains, on and off
- 219 Whitewater Canyon at the Preserve
- 226-308 Mission Creek Canyon pretty much to Deep Creek Hot Springs, on and off
- 314.5 Deep Creek Canyon
- 317 some trees
- 329 Cleghorn Picnic Area
- 335.5 some trees in Little Horsethief Canyon
- 342 Cajon Pass
- 362 northwards, with a few extended treeless areas around Agua Dulce, Antelope Valley and Tehachapi Pass to Kennedy Meadows.
This list is not complete and most likely contains some errors, but might give you an idea.
Resupply stops where I camped in the hammock as well were the following (southbound order):
- Elk Lake Resort (stealth camp)
- The Callahan’s Lodge (in their gazebo, very comfy!)
- Burney Falls Campground
- Drakesbad (stealth camp)
- Chester (stealth camp)
- Sierra City (in the backyard of the great Red Moose Inn)
- South Lake Tahoe (at the Campground by the Lake)
- Mammoth Lakes (at the campground in town)
- Kennedy Meadows (at Tom’s place)
- The Andersons (in the manzanita forest in their backyard)
- The Saufley’s (between two beams)
- Idyllwild (at the campground in town)