The PCT in 51 Photos: What It's Like to Thru-Hike the Iconic Trail

Trends & Top 10Jonathon Frankson

PCT Pacific Crest Trail Photos Thru-Hiking

Editor’s Note: Many thru-hikers this year delayed or cancelled plans due to Covid-19. Additionally, many would-be thru-hikers find that taking several months off from daily life just isn’t possible because of work, family and other commitments. For everyone who fits into either or both camps, we asked Jonathon to help us experience the trail vicariously through his epic photos. These 51 images of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail are in chronological order, showing the terrain, people and emotions Jonathon encountered on his 2019 NOBO hike.  


I’m Jonathon Frankson, also known as Roadrunner on trail. I hiked the PCT in 2019, starting March 12. With such an early start date, I guess it was good that I was coming from Alaska, as 2019 ended up being an abnormally high snow year for the PCT, with some parts of the Sierra seeing more than 200% the average snowpack.

From retreating off the trail in the Jacinto mountains (to pick up snow gear in Idlewild) to getting altitude sickness from going straight up the snow-covered switchbacks on Whitney — not to mention the two separate ill-advised and failed attempts to get over Kearsarge Pass during a storm — the PCT taught me that Mother Nature doesn't care how tough you think you are. It's up to you to make good choices in the face of bad decisions.

Despite all the challenges, or maybe because of them, taking those first steps on the Pacific Crest Trail, with a backpack and a 350 dollar camera that I didn't even know how to use yet, will go down as one of my all time great choices.

 

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail PCT Photos Jonathon Frankson Thru-Hiking

To see more of Jonathon's amazing images from the PCT and other adventures, give him a follow @jonathonfrankson!

 

Trends & top 10

7 comments

Tahlia

Tahlia

Incredible photos!!!

Jonathon Frankson

Jonathon Frankson

Thank you everyone! To answer a few questions. The camera I used was a sony a6000. The first 520 miles or so I used the kit lens. Then I decided I liked the whole camera thing and bought a sigma 30mm lens, and sent the kit lens home. Someone mentioned that I was a quick study, thank you! But I attribute that to taking hundreds of photos a day, and spending every night going thru them and deciding what worked, and what didnt before I passed out for the night from exhaustion. It was basically a 5.5 month crash course on photography! I still have a lot to learn!

Paul Stephens

Paul Stephens

Your photos are beautiful. You create wonderful compositions and the value contrast is well done. What camera did you choose to carry and did you carry separate lenses?

Al Budris

Al Budris

Thank you. Makes me feel better having missed my section jaunt due to CV-19 this year.

Ben

Ben

Great pictures. Thank you for sharing. Would have enjoyed some narrative around some of them!

Mike

Mike

Wow, that’s a lot of snow in the jmt section. The pics are fabulous!

Jen

Jen

Holy cow! You were a quick study with that camera. Beautiful photos.

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