Out and Back

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Mac of Halfway Anywhere has been conducting surveys on the PCT for eight years, and on the CDT for four. In this episode of Out and Back, Mac (aka Tyler Fox) weaves his eight years of survey data together with his first hand observations to illuminate how the PCT and CDT have evolved over the past decade. Hint: he doesn’t think it’s all been for the better. Plus, get more inside scoops on thru-hiking, including what makes people quit the trail, why Mac dislikes trail magic, and why he swears he’ll never hike the AT.

Show Notes

Before Mac of Halfway Anywhere thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 2013, he struggled to find useful information about the trail. Sure, he read anecdotal thru-hiking accounts. But what worked for one person might not work for him. Mac wanted data. So after completing the trail that year, Mac started a PCT survey to gather that data for himself.

The results both somewhat dismayed him while at the same time, proved quite useful. For example, one of Mac’s many findings suggested that hikers wildly underestimate how much a thru-hike costs. In fact, underestimating thru-hike finances proves to be one of the primary reasons people abandon their hike.

After Mac thru-hiked the Continental Divide Trail in 2017, he started a survey for that trail as well. Surprising to many, the CDT mostly sticks to well-defined trail. But unlike other long trails, the CDT provides numerous “alternates” that hikers can take to supplement or supplant the official route. Mac was able to get surprising figures about these "alternates" as well as tons of other useful data for future CDT thru-hikers.

On today's episode of Out and Back, Mac weaves his eight years of survey data together with his first hand observations to illuminate how the PCT and CDT have evolved over the past decade. Hint: he doesn’t think it’s all been for the better. He also dishes out his controversial view of trail angels and trail magic. Plus, Mac explains why he hates the word “tramly” (aka “trail family). Finally, you may have noticed the elephant in the room: Mac has not thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and does not conduct an AT survey. In fact, Mac swears he will never hike the east’s longest trail. He explains why he feels this way...and of course...Shanty will try and change Mac's mind about it...

A self-proclaimed random guy on the internet, Mac has no proven validity to his findings. But he’s here to help prospective thru-hikers actually glean information that will be useful in their monumental undertaking. Mac may not be a scientist, but he thinks with the precision of one, constantly trying to refine and improve the surveys with each iteration.

If you’re planning on thru-hiking the PCT or the CDT next year, sign up to take the survey when it becomes available.

Comb through the vast PCT and CDT survey data on Mac’s website, Halfway Anywhere. You’ll also find all types of useful insight and analysis, including gear guides for both the PCT and CDT. Sign up for Mac’s newsletter, and follow Mac’s adventures on Instagram.

Make sure to check out the Out and Back podcast page on Instagram, too!

And remember, podcast listeners get a Discount on a Gaia GPS Membership!

What is Out and Back?

In the Out and Back Podcast presented by Gaia GPS, thru-hiker Andrew “Shanty” Baldwin, professional guide/outdoorswoman Mary "Hiker Midnight" Cochenour, and professional athlete Abby Levene dive deep into conversation with long-distance hikers, record-breaking athletes, offroad travelers who sold everything to live full-time on the dusty backroads, and other awesome guests who have mastered their backcountry craft.

In every show, Shanty, Mary, and Abby tap into each backcountry expert’s superpower so you can take their experience and knowledge with you on your next adventure.