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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation

Environmental Studies

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Laninga, Tamara Jean

Second Advisor

Rossiter, David A.

Third Advisor

Vega, Sara Strickhouser, 1987-


The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile long trail that connects Mexico and Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. For thru-hikers, water is a priority on trail that requires prior research and daily planning. Water resources fluctuate between seasons and years, requiring thru-hikers to adapt to variable resources. This case study examines how thru-hikers prepare for and experience water resources on the Pacific Crest Trail. Relying on thru-hiker interviews, online survey data, and analysis of water reports, this research uses a mixed-methods approach to examine water resource accessibility and variability on the PCT. Using a variation of Affordance Theory, informed by the Nature-Based Recreation Experiences Model and the Ecological Perception Model, this case study analyzes factors of perception, experiences, recreation, and the environment. With the increased popularity of the Pacific Crest Trail and thru-hiking in general, the stress put on trails and water resources are also growing. Findings from this research can inform management of trail use and maintenance. This study is reported in two manuscripts. The first study examines overall water resource variability on the PCT in 2019. The second study evaluates alternate water sources and water caches on trail to provide recommendations for where alternate sources should be placed.




recreation, water resources, thru-hiking, water caches, environmental perception, mixed-methods, water resource management


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Water-supply--Pacific Crest Trail; Hiking--Pacific Crest Trail

Geographic Coverage

Pacific Crest Trail--Description and travel




masters theses




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