I typically jump at the chance to share cool things happening around Portland and the greater region—and Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Days certainly qualifies. What first caught my attention about this event was the Packing it Out guys are making an appearance. As someone who is a tad neurotic about picking up trail trash, I knew the three-day festival August 19-21, to inspire outdoor recreation was for me, and I wanted to let more people know about it.
PCT Days is a free event (though there is a small fee for overnight camping) and will be packed with activities, live music, and opportunities to learn about the latest outdoor products from exhibiting sponsors. The incredible raffle benefits the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) and the American Long Distance Hiking Association-West (ALDHA).
Jason Waicunas, PCT Days Event Director, was kind enough to take a break from organizing the festival, which is expected to draw a record attendance of over 2,500 participants, to chat with me about its history and schedule for the weekend.
What’s your elevator pitch—why should people come?
The location for PCT Days is incredible and offers beautiful vistas. The event is set at Marine Park in Cascade Locks, Oregon—visually you can’t beat it and it’s a great place to spend the weekend.
PCT Days is unique—there’s no other event quite like it for the outdoor industry. It’s an opportunity for the industry to showcase its products while inspiring the community to get outside and enjoy our beautiful trails. The weekend is packed and will cater to all: experienced hikers, those who are curious about the PCT, and those who have limited knowledge of hiking, but are hungry to learn more. For outdoor enthusiasts the event delivers—it’s a great way to learn about specialized products and gear, while participating in fun activities. It’s not a retail show, but some of the vendors will offer a few things for sale.
What was the inspiration for PCT Days?
The original idea came from my friend, Nick. Before PCT Days had any structure or even an official name, it was a cookout for thru-hikers of the PCT—10 people showed up that first year. The following year my friend asked me to get involved but then he went off to grad school so I took the reigns and the result was a bigger cookout. It expanded when sponsors were added and with more official coordination. As the sophistication increased so did the crowds. Once the event got to over 250 people, I partnered with an event planner and created a marketing structure for sponsors and activities for attendees.
Early on I knew I wanted PCT Days to support nonprofits dedicated to preserving our trail systems, and so in 2009, I created a beneficiary program. Revenue from raffle ticket sales go directly to the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) and the American Long Distance Hiking Association-West (ALDHA). Since implementing the program over $30,000 has been given back to these nonprofits. Last year an impressive $6,000 was raised—an incredible amount in 24 hours!
Do you have anything special planned for the 10th anniversary?
Absolutely. The highlight is live music by Aan, a regional band from Portland. They’ll perform Saturday night starting at 8:30 pm. They are well-known and will be a huge draw for the event. Friday night is the welcome party hosted by the beneficiaries of PCT Days (PCTA and the ALDHA-West). Snacks will be provided and there will be games, prizes, a raffle, and a membership drive to support these two nonprofits.
What kind of sponsored activities can attendees expect?
There’s a lot planned for Saturday, featuring many fun 30-minute activities. I encourage everyone to check out the PCT Days website for all of the details. But I will share many of the activities may take you back to your youth, but with a fun outdoorsy twist. Think potato sack races with sleeping bags (Big Agnes), scavenger hunt (Osprey Packs), and trail trivia (Vasque), just to name a few. There’s also a Backpacking 101 class taught by Backpacker Magazine, the title sponsor (12pm-1 pm on Saturday).
Can you hint at the types of products and gear that will be raffled off?
There will be a LOT of great products to win, ranging from tents to backpacks to clothing—thousands of dollars of products and gear are up for grabs. Raffle tickets are $2.00 each and it’s not uncommon for people to buy as many as 30 tickets, so be sure to bring plenty of cash to increase your chances of winning. As mentioned, proceeds from ticket sales go directly to the PCTA and the ALDHA-West.
What can you share about the PCT work party?
The work party is scheduled from 10 am- 4 pm on Friday and will focus on erosion repair and brush-clearing. No experience is required and gloves and tools are provided (just be sure to wear sturdy shoes). The PCT is maintained by volunteers, so putting a little sweat equity and getting dirty is a great way to give back and support the trail. Space is limited so sign up soon by emailing Roberta Cobb at the PCTA.
Anything else you want to share?
I encourage everyone to come out to the Gorge and check it out. It’s going to be a lot of fun and I guarantee attendees will leave with a new appreciation for the PCT and an increased desire to preserve and protect it (and probably even, hike it). Visit the event’s website for the full schedule, additional details, camping information (online reservations for camping is closed but you can pay at the park). It’s going to be hot this weekend—water will be available onsite, and as an added bonus, we’ll be giving away 500 BPA-free water bottles at the Information booth.