The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is my dream hike, it has a variety of climates, good elevation, and it passes through my home state of Washington plus two states I love – Oregon and California. I’ve watched a film about the Appalachian Trail, which is a classic trail, but until the other day I’d never watched a film about the PCT. So, of course, I jumped at the chance to check it out.
From the border with Mexico to the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia, the PCT stretches over 2,600 miles.
“It’s spring time again, yahoo!” – Billygoat
Tell It On The Mountain is a documentary film with real people, real hiking, and real struggles. Seeing the joys and hurdles of the hikers as they happened is both inspiring and informative.
Tell It On The Mountain
Tell It On The Mountain follows eight hikers as they make their way along the trail and explore the beauty of the West Coast. There are two couples – Eagle Eye & Jackalope and Alina & Carsten – and four solo hikers – Scott Williamson, Billygoat, Iñaki, and Dona (see below for pictures).
It was really fun to watch these folks tackle the trail, most of them for their first time. Their enthusiasm is contagious and the wonderful scenery fuels the desire to get out and hike it.
Jackalope and Eagle Eye learn that peanut butter, chocolate, and cheese aren’t the best choices for the desert. Billygoat shares his thoughts on water caches and we find out that both Billygoat and Scott don’t filter their water. They’re part of the dip and sip group, like John Muir. Just take it as you find it. This was kind of a new thing for me, I’ve never heard of anyone drinking water straight from the source without any filtering or treating as a general strategy. I think I’ll stick with my Sawyer.
Two of the hikers – Billygoat and Scott – are serious veterans of the trail. Scott has thru-hiked the PCT 13 times including the first ever yo-yo of the trail, which is Mexico-to-Canada and back in one attempt. Scott first accomplished this in 2004, racking up a whopping “5,300 miles (8,500 km) in 205 days” (Wikipedia). Scott has also held various speed records on the PCT.
Billygoat is a legend in the hiking community. He earned his Triple-Crown and spends the majority of each year hiking. He’s experienced more than 32,000 trail miles with an aim at 50,000 by age 80.
“I know there will be good moments and bad moments, as in life.” – Iñaki
I really like the mix of documentary filming with the candid stuff filmed by the hikers. It makes the film more interesting than just documentary style. It’s personal, making you almost feel like you’re on the trail with them sharing touching moments.
Tell It On The Mountain (TIOTM) wonderfully showcases the amazing sights along the PCT. The film is a beautiful tribute to both the trail and the hikers that enjoy it, with a story that is a sweeping tale of tragedy, triumph, and the love of the outdoors.
If you love hiking and backpacking, you’ll love this film.
Alina – After spending a year apart from her husband working in the Canary Islands, Alina joins her Carsten for the PCT. This is her first ever thru-hike attempt. It must have been stressful being apart for that long but they made it work which is cool. She’s cheerful and energetic and looks like a fast hiker. Alina has a close encounter with a beautiful brown bear.
Carsten – Having thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, Carsten had the idea of him and his wife thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail together. He’s a cheerful guy who unfortunately meets with some back luck on the trail. They make the best of it though and enjoy their time in the States.
“If you’ve done something like this and you liked it, you have to come back.” – Carsten
Jackalope – Two and half decades of school definitely earns you an adventure. After completing graduate work, Jackalope and her husband (Eagle-eye) decide to do a thru-hike of the PCT. On their way north, Jackalope and Eagle-eye stop off for their wedding! Sweet way to kick things off.
Eagle Eye – Eagle Eye is impressed by his fiance/wife’s pain tolerance. His feet get tore up! But he does a good job toughing it out with damaged toenails and severe chaffing. The couple suffers a loss at home which causes them to detour for a while. But they eventually make it back on trail and Eagle Eye says, “I do.” with Jackalope on their way north.
Billygoat – This guy has been on the PCT every year for 20 years! That’s pretty awesome. Personally, I think his trail name should be Gandalf because he’s wise, bearded, and well-traveled. Throughout the film we get a nice glimpse at some of his stories. All his experience and his easygoing demeanor makes Billygoat a really interesting guy to follow throughout the film.
“It doesn’t matter where I am on the trail, it’s all my home.” – Billygoat
Scott – Scott’s pretty hardcore. He hikes lightweight and fast – regularly getting up to 40 miles per day! He’s thru-hiked the PCT 7 times and has even yo-yo’d the trail, which is thru-hiking South-to-North then turning around and walking back to the Southern Terminus. We never do find out if Scott glows-in-the-dark after drinking that water…
Iñaki – Iñaki hails from Spain, where he says many people don’t understand the lure of long-distance hiking. He had to leave his wife at home in Spain while he pursued his dream of thru-hiking the PCT. This takes a toll on him, which comes through in his conversations. Iñaki seems like the chill kind of guy that would make a good hiking buddy.
“Being indoors all the time is quite oppressive to me. I need fresh air.” – Iñaki
Dona – Dona and her husband have been Trail Angels, hosting thousands of hikers at their home, for over a decade. We get to see her cut away from the home life for a while to tackle a section of the trail. To help celebrate the occasion, Dona sports a sweet new hairstyle.
More TIOTM Quotables
“I’m pretty sure I’m a real wuss.” – Eagle-eye
“Don’t waste your money on the gym, just come out here and hike it.” – Alina
“Someone asked me, ‘How do you filter your water?’ I say I do it the same way John Muir did it. I just drink it.” – Billygoat
“I think I’ll just leave with a couple bottles of uranium tainted water. Maybe the glow-in-the-dark effect will help me for night hiking.” – Scott
“The trail is a great equalizer.” – Dona
“You can walk for 200 miles without hearing an outboard motor, or a chainsaw, or a motorcycle, anything like that – for 200 miles.” – Billygoat
Duration: 119 minutes
Director: Lisa Denier
Producer: Shaun Carrigan
Note: A copy of the film was made available to me at no cost but, as always, all opinions are my own.