On Thursday night I got a message from a fellow PCT hiker telling me that the long-distance permit was now available online (PCTA.org), but with a few changes for 2015…
Since the book, ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed, and subsequent movie starring Reese Witherspoon, there’s been an increase in people hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. In 2013, the PCTA issued a total of 1,879 long-distance permits (section and thru hiker). In 2014, there were a total of 2,655 permits issued. In 2015 there will be??
So for 2015, the PCTA has decided to limit the number of daily permits to 50, hoping to spread out the number of hikers starting on any one day. Sounds fair enough.
It wasn’t the news of this that sent me into a mad panic at 10pm on Thursday night. It was the fact that in order to limit the number of permits per day, you now had to choose a starting day when submitting your application… This might seem like no big deal and you might assume that considering I had already decided to hike the PCT that I had already chosen a starting date… But I hadn’t! (Other than “sometime” in late April!) My ever-growing to-do list for this hike currently has 28 things on it, and choosing an exact starting date was at the bottom of the list! (Or to be more honest, it wasn’t actually written on my list, but had it been, it would have been on the bottom!)
I didn’t know what date to pick, but I had to pick it right then. Panic, stress and anxiety all set in and usually I’m such a calm and collected person! There were so many things to take into consideration – do I start earlier than the “usual recommended” date around the 25th April, do I start around this time, or do I start later?
Yogi’s handbook suggests starting around the 25th April so you make it to the Sierra Mountains (~700 miles from the start point) by mid-June. It’s around this time that the snowfall should have melted enough making for an easier crossing, but this all depends on the year and the amount of snowfall.
The other reason for starting around this date (~25 April) is because there is an annual event called the ADZPCTKO – Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off – held on a weekend in late April. It’s a weekend where past and future hikers come together to share advice, learn some trail lessons, have a pack shake-down (where past hikers access your gear and tell you what you should leave behind), meet your hiker family who you’ll be seeing along the trail and a chance to buy some last minute gear.
I had always thought that I would like to attend the ADZPCTKO, if nothing else than to meet some fellow hikers. But if I was going to start “early” I would be at least 150 miles further up the trail, so how would I get back to it? Or would I just keep walking, knowing that I’d meet other hikers along the trail? … More about the ADZPCTKO later in a separate post.
Sometimes things just fall into place (or as I like to think of it “Everything happens for a reason” – but I usually get a few groans from people when I say this!) I belong to a PCT forum on Facebook → someone posted a thread about international hikers → I met a girl also from London → she messaged me telling me the permits were now available → I chose the same starting date she had → (it just seemed so much easier than choosing a date myself!)
Who knows if we’ll walk together but if walking has taught me anything, it’s that I can walk alone and sometimes you meet someone you walk with for a day or a week or even longer and then you say goodbye, and you meet someone else. I wonder if the PCT will be similar?
And now my flight is booked, I’ve met some Trail Angels called Scout & Frodo who I’m going to stay with on arrival in San Diego and everything really seems to be falling into place…
So, one permit down and two to go:
PCT Long Distance Permit – If hiking or horseback riding 500 or more contiguous miles along the PCT, in a single trip
* Always check the PCTA for updated information regarding permits