Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off

Since 1999

Like a thru hiker, time marches on...


They say all good things must come to an end, and so it is with Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off. This year, as we have for the past 17 years, the ADZPCTKO organizers will gather at Lake Morena County Park to greet hikers passing through, offer them a cold (or hot, depending on the weather) beverage, and some advice from those who have been there before.

But we won't have the trappings that have come to define kick off in recent years: hot meals served to hundreds, a vendor fair of items uniquely suited to long-distance hiking, a full schedule of informative seminars, nightly film presentations, and reunions of previous PCT thru-hiker classes. Also missing: overcrowded campsites, overflowing septic tanks, long lines for registration and meals, and loud late-night parties.

So why end this tradition that is loved by many and reviled by a few? 

From the beginning, our sole purpose has been to help current-year aspiring thru hikers. Calming the butterflies. Educating about effective equipment, techniques, leave no trace ethics, and how to be an ambassador for the Pacific Crest Trail. Providing information about current trail, snow, and water conditions. Showing the geology, flora, and fauna to be encountered along the way. Even supporting and maintaining water caches. We've never wavered from that core mission; as the event grew larger and new features were added, we tried to ensure that they served that core mission.

But a lot has changed since the first ADZPCTKO in 1999. 

Information resources for PCT hikers were sparse then. PCTA had only a basic (and mostly static) website hosted on PCT-L was in its infancy. Facebook didn't even exist until five years later. There were no Halfmile maps and no Yogi's PCT Handbook. No map apps existed, which isn't surprising because no smartphones existed. Hikers who wanted ultralight gear had to make their own; a few became so good at it that they turned their efforts into small businesses that later displayed their wares at ADZPCTKO. With only analog film equipment and limited web tools, it was much easier to share your experience with other hikers by gathering in small groups.

Small groups? When ADZPCTKO began, a few hundred hikers would attempt a thru hike each year, and a sizable portion of them started in the several days before or after KO, as that was generally considered to be the optimal start date. The number grew slowly but steadily, and KO grew with it. And then there was Wild. Trail popularity skyrocketed, so that now PCTA issues several thousand permits for hikers starting throughout the spring. We have always been cognizant of the bump in daily trail use coinciding with KO, but the biggest herd ever out of KO's early days was no match for the size of current daily quotas. We don't want to create a bigger wave than the one that already exists. An event held on a single weekend can do one of two things: reach only a small fraction of this year's hikers, or skew the starting dates in a way that creates a huge herd (assuming we had the ability to accommodate an ever larger crowd, which we don't). 

The explosion of alternative information resources and the explosion in the number of hikers have simultaneously reduced the need for an event like ours and made it less effective -- leaving us to wonder how ADZPCTKO 2017 can fulfill that core mission of assisting current-year thru hikers.

So that's where we are. Lots of good memories, lots of enduring friendships. And the realization that an event that was an essential trail stop a few years ago is not right for the PCT of 2017. 

As our founder and dear friend Greg "Strider" Hummel said: "No regrets! No fears! No worries! No tears!" We hope to see you all out on the trail. Have a great hike!

Check out the ADZPCTKO online store

Did you pick up a T-shirt at KO? No? Well it's not too late...because we just opened our online store! You'll not only find our latest T-shirt, featuring words of wisdom from PCT legend Billy Goat, but also T-shirts from previous years, in men's and women's styles. Oh yeah: insulated travel mugs and travel wallets too. Remember our motto: All shirts guaranteed to be as wrinkled as shown in the photos.

2014 2012 2011 2013 Mug

For great gear, check out our vendor supporters

Yogi's Guides  Trail Logistics
Yogi's PCT Handbook  Hyperlite
Gossamer Gear Guthook's Guides
A16 LightHeart Gear
Klymit   Zpacks