In 2013, Andy Davidhazy made a spontaneous decision: in three weeks, he was going to hike all 2,660 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, a trek that winds through three different states. Another plot twist: he gave himself the Kim Kardashian-esque task of taking a selfie every mile of the hike. The result? This beautiful time-lapse of a five-month transformation, one that involved dropping 50 pounds and easing his self-proclaimed control freak nature with a heavy dose of uncontrollable wilds.
The Austin-based creative director/designer also learned how to pack light—really light. He went the distance with only the clothes on his back (he ditched his extra outfit 900 miles in) and a few survival essentials, like specifically shaped water bottles and socks. Looking to go on your own extreme excursion? Here, Davidhazy talks about his trip—including why he didn’t use his phone to take all those selfies.
Packing Only For Survival
“This was not a typical backpacking or camping trip—there is no real time spent in camp, per say. You’re not sitting around and roasting marshmallows and singing songs. You eat for functional purposes—not for the experience of eating. At the end of the day, all you want to do is set up camp and get to sleep so you wake up and do it all over again. So bringing books, Kindles, or other luxury/recreational items that have nothing to do with survival or with walking very clearly becomes superfluous.”
Wearing the Same Exact Same Thing Every Day
“I just had what I wore to hike in—running shorts, a T-shirt, and socks. I did have a very lightweight rain layer, which came in handy for cool weather. If I did hitchhike into town and had a chance to do some proper laundry, I would use that rain layer as a change of clothes while I was washing my other clothes.”
…Except for Socks
“The only thing I carried multiple pairs of were socks. I had these small, lightweight socks—I would carry three pairs. Any time I came across a creek or stream, I would rinse out a pair. The most important things are your feet, so taking care of them was really vital. Anytime you had a chance to take a short break, you’d always take off your shoes and put your feet up. It became a really important ritual.”
The Stove is Not Necessary
“I started the hike with a small stove, so I did cook some hot food—mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, etc. About halfway through, I ditched the stove. It required more effort than what I wanted to give it and I was quite comfortable with the cold food that I had adapted to. So I was able to drop some weight and make my life a bit simpler by doing so.”
With Water Bottles: Shopping for the Shape
“The Smart Water bottles are great because they are 1 liter, tall, and skinny. They’re also smooth, which makes pulling it out of a pocket really easy. I would replace them when I went into town. A lot of people focus on the Powerade bottle on the front of my pack, which was clearly visible throughout much of the time-lapse video. It wasn’t always Powerade in that. It was a different shaped bottle, which made getting water from very small, shallow streams a little bit easier because it had a wide mouth. There was a practical reason for every kind of bottle I had with me.”
Going for the Point-and-Shoot
“I carried a small point-and-shoot camera with me to take the selfies—not an iPhone. The battery life is better and I didn’t have to use the iPhone, which could be really important at other times. I also carried a notepad with a pen. I would write down key things—where I hiked from day-to-day, whether or not I met anyone, etc. Those types of notes helped me trigger all of the other memories that surrounded the trip. When I was going back through the hike and putting this video together, that’s what I looked to. I referenced my notes, my map, and the timestamps on the photos to make sure there was integrity to it. Each photo represented exactly one mile.”
Davidhazy is currently working on a documentary about his experiences called Lost or Found: Life after 2,600 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail set to be released this summer. For more information, head over to his website.
Erika Owen is the audience engagement editor at T+L.