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PCT to Everest and Back Again, with Derek Wood

PCT to Everest and Back Again, with Derek Wood


Our Path Projects customers and community have shared many outdoor adventures with us, from short runs and hikes, to ultra endurance races and thru hikes. 

Derek Wood has had two big dreams: summiting Mt Everest, the highest mountain above sea level, and thru hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), all the way from the border of Mexico to Canada, a staggering 2,653 miles.

2021 would be his year of going after these two big dreams, using the first month on the PCT as a final specific training block before leaving for Nepal. With a plan to finish the PCT after Mt Everest...  Below is a guest post by Derek Wood. 

Derek: I’ve been planning to attempt a summit of Mt. Everest for the last 5 years, a lifelong dream that at the time seemed ever so far away. I would build my mountaineering resume over time until I felt comfortable and skilled enough to go for it. In between those years, I had heard stories of thru hiking, in particular the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and was fascinated that someone could actually walk all the way from the border of Mexico to Canada, a staggering 2,653 miles. I became enamored with the idea of completing a thru hike one day.

Pacific Crest Trail

mountain view pct


beautiful pct views

The more I thought about Everest, the less crazy it seemed that I could make the PCT happen in the same year, as time off like this is hard to come by. I could use my first month on the PCT as a final specific training block before leaving for Nepal. You see, the desert sections of the PCT are high desert, meaning I would be getting plenty of elevation gain and decline.

I would be hiking and living at relatively high altitude as well, sometimes hiking above 9,000’ and getting around 6,000’+ of elevation change a day. I would also be hiking with a weighty backpack and it wasn’t rare for me to cover a marathon or 50k of distance in a day. I could train in a way that would let me accomplish another life goal. I finally decided 2021 would be my year of two big dreams. 

sleeping on the trail


pacific crest trail

I hiked 400 miles of high desert before heading off to Everest, dealing with everything from post-holing through waist-deep snow to waking up to frozen shoes and socks.. not the stereotypical desert you might imagine but these experiences hardened me for my summit attempt. I hiked along the PCT from sun up to sundown, 6 days a week and felt myself grow strong. I won’t go into all the details of Everest here other than to say my journey was cut short and ended at Camp 3, 23,500’. So close to the summit yet so far, my spirits were down when I found myself back on the PCT in June at mile 400.

However, coming back to finish the trail was just what I needed. The beautiful, ever-changing views and the overflowing generosity of people along the way lifted my spirits to the point where the bitterness of my unsuccessful attempt of Everest faded into the background and I was left with only my fondness of Nepal. As is often said during a thru hike, the trail provides.

climbing mt. everest

Mount Everest

On September 6th, I walked into Canada! 6 months and 6 days from the day when I first started. 2,653 miles of terrain, 120 total days, 420,000 ft of elevation change, 7 National Parks, 25 National Forests, a summit of Mt. Whitney (the highest mountain in the contiguous US) and in between it all a 2-month hiatus hiking in the Himalayas for a shot at Everest. All in all a dream come true and some of the best months of my life!

Path Project Gear I wore:
Skyes PX - 5” Short
Torch FX - 5” Base Liner
Pyrenees T19 Hooded Long Sleeve Shirt
Badlands Cap and Muir Cap

Find Derek Wood HERE on Instagram.


Congrats Derek! Huge accomplishment and a lifetime of stories to tell. Great photos by the way!


What an accomplishment ! It sounds like a life changing experience. You should be extremely proud Derek.

Thomas Grimshaw,

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