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    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Default Pre-Planning a PCT LASH for 2020

    I'm thinking of doing the southern part of the PCT next year (2020). To that end I have a few questions with which I hope the community can help me.

    1. Apparently there is no hands down best guide for the PCT like AWOL's AT Guide, or at least that is what research has told me. Does anyone have a recommendation on what I should have for a guide? I'm looking for one mostly for pre-planning since I would take Guthook with me on the trail.
    2. What maps would be the best?
    3. It looks like two permits are necessary. One is the California Fire Permit and the other is the PCT Long Distance Permit (over 500 miles hiking). For the southern section (700 miles to Kennedy Meadows) are there any other permits required that I may have missed in my research?
    4. And here's a big question. When is the best time to start, considering I'm not thru-hiking and do not intend to go through the Sierra Mountains? I guess I'm trying to avoid the coldest weather and the hottest weather on the trail. It looks like mid-April might be the best with a finish in mid-June. Any thoughts? I carry a 30 degree sleeping bag. Would a March start get me colder weather than my sleeping bag could handle?

    Thanks for any input replies may offer.
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    FWIW, I did pretty much exactly what you are planning last year, Campo (southern terminus) to Kennedy Meadows. It was fantastic. Way better quality trail and hiking experience than I expected.

    I started March 29th, and the timing worked out perfectly to avoid the extreme heat, yet still get over the two potentially high, snowy spots in that first 700 miles. Be aware, this can vary a whole lot year to year. In a light snow year, you could probably start even earlier, in a heavy snow year, a bit late is probably better. The "choke" point for that first 700 miles for snow is San Jacinto mountain and Fuller Ridge, about mile 160-170, something like that.

    I used Postholer for pre-planning. lots and lots of info there. I could share my resupply points, they are fair standard for a lot of folks.

    Permits: The best thing to do to make things as easy as possible is to get that long distance permit (and fire permit, which is easy). BUT, you don't actually even need a permit to hike those first 700 miles of the PCT. IF you do not have a permit, however, there are camping restrictions in a couple places. Basically, there are a couple areas where you cannot camp EXCEPT in an established campground if you do not have a permit. Postholer has those details.

    But, just go ahead and try to get that permit. Just send the request as soon as is possible, I forget the dates when you can do so, it's detailed on pcta.org, or something like that.

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    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Rob, Thanks for the info on Postholer. I was not aware of this website. They have a lot of good information there. I especially like the data on weather. The info on permits and departure dates is also appreciated.

    If you have information on your resupply points and it's not too much trouble, I certainly would like to see it. On the Appalachian Trail, I depended on mail drops mostly. I thought the pickings in most small towns was not that good. Is it possible to do mail drops for resupply on the PCT? That's one thing AWOL's AT Guide really does a good job on - post office locations and businesses that will accept hiker resupply boxes. I didn't see that kind of information on Postholer, at least in the first 200 miles that I scanned. It's possible I did miss it though.
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    I'm heading out soon for a few days, I can complete this next week, but off the top of my head, I remember at least the first few 100 miles:

    1) I started from Campo with maybe 3-4 days of food, then I took 2+ days (camped a few miles just before) to get to the store at Mt. Laguna (mile 41), where I topped off with another 3 days or so. I normally mail resupply boxes, but in this case I did not, since I knew the store had a good supply of hiker food. It does indeed. Plus the ranger station has modest trail magic (cold beverages and snack bars for free).

    2) From Mt Laguna, my next resupply would be Warner Springs, at mile 107, basically 66 more miles, taking 4 days, meaning I left Mt. Laguna with 4 days of food. Lots of folks hitch into Julian at mile 76. I tried for about an hour, long story there, ultimately failed (I was a gentleman), shrugged my shoulder and hiked on. Warner Springs is a great first rest/resupply place. Don't skip this place. I mailed a box there, 2.5 days of food because next resupply is close. The PO is a mile walk, but it is right next to a great restaurant (golf course clubhouse), plus the WS folks give rides at least one way.

    3) From Warner springs, refreshed, clean body, clean clothes, my next stop was Idylwild, or more precisely, the Paradise Cafe at mile 149. Great place for a meal, plus there are ample opportunites for a ride into Idylwild for resupply. I stayed a night in Idylwild, resupplied via mailed box, got ride back to Paradise cafe and hiked on. In between Warner springs and Idylwild is Mike's place where you can tank up on water (just off trail) and he makes pizza most days if you time it right, plus has sodas, beer and you can sleep there. I stopped in, ate pizza, drank a soda and a beer, then hiked on.

    4) the next stop after the Paradise Cafe was Big Bear at mile 263. This was a long, hard stretch (114 miles, over San Jacinto). You can hitch in to Cabazon when you cross I10 about half way through this stretch. I chose not to. But this meant schlepping 6+ days of food over San Jacinto.... I'd probably do it differently if I went back, planning on stopping at Cabazon. There were multiple trail magic places on this stretch, namely at the I10 tunnel, then later on, but can't remember the name of the place. somewhere near the Grizzley bear in the cage. Weird to see a grizzley bear in So. California.... but it was there. In a cage. Kinda sad. Used for movies, turns out. I did my one and only zero in Big Bear.

    Very briefly, the rest of the trip, I can fill in details later, I used McDonalds (pig out breakfast) at Cajon pass, Wrightwood (full resupply), the KOA at Acton (meal, camped, mile 440), Aqua Dulce (full rest/resupply mile 450), Hikertown Hostel (rest, tank up, meal at nearby town, free hourly shuttle, mile 512), Tehachapi (full rest/resupply, mile 553) and Walker Pass (Lake Isabella town, mile 647), then ended at Kennedy Meadows.

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    Hello All,

    I plan on doing the same hike next year. Starting in early April and end in Kennedy Meadows. Colorado Rob, how long did it take you to get there? Avg mileage per day?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stroke1 View Post
    Hello All,

    I plan on doing the same hike next year. Starting in early April and end in Kennedy Meadows. Colorado Rob, how long did it take you to get there? Avg mileage per day?
    I'll look it up when we get home in few days. Probably 19-20 mpd, excluding the one zero and couple of neros. So maybe 36-37 days?

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    Aloha IDSailor.

    Resupply: https://www.pctmap.net/wp-content/up...s_resupply.pdf and https://www.pctmap.net/trail-notes/
    Maps: https://www.pctmap.net/maps/


    Halfmile does a decent job of updating and including trail notes similar to Jonathan Ley's CDT maps and map notes. FREE! Making a donation though would demonstrate support for these folk's hard work!

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    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Thanks, Dogwood. The trail notes and resupply list are awesome. It looks like those, some Nat Geo maps, info from colorado_rob and the Postholer website comprise pretty much all that is needed for pre-planning. This is just what I was looking for.
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    I am planning to hike the desert section Starting April 10.Should I end my hike at Kennedy Meadows or Lone Pine? I live in Alabama.What is the best way to get home from either of these places? Thanks...

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    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bamadog View Post
    I am planning to hike the desert section Starting April 10.Should I end my hike at Kennedy Meadows or Lone Pine? I live in Alabama.What is the best way to get home from either of these places? Thanks...
    Hey! I'll probably see you on the trail. My permit was approved for April 9. Too bad you're not going a day earlier. I've been obsessing about how to get to Campo. I know about the bus but ugh, two hours lost on the bus while a shared Uber would be better.

    Anyway, good questions. I'll be following since my goal is to finish at KM if I don't take a crack at the Sierra's.

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    Lone Pine. Kennedy meadows is a long way from any public transportation. Lone Pine used to have a grehound stop.

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    I appreciate the info Mountain Mike !

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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Eastern Sierra Transit north from Lone Pine.
    Bus service to Mammoth or Reno.
    Airports in both cities.
    https://www.estransit.com/
    Have fun!
    Wayne

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    Thanks Wayne !

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    FWIW, I did pretty much exactly what you are planning last year, Campo (southern terminus) to Kennedy Meadows. It was fantastic. Way better quality trail and hiking experience than I expected.

    I started March 29th, and the timing worked out perfectly to avoid the extreme heat, yet still get over the two potentially high, snowy spots in that first 700 miles. Be aware, this can vary a whole lot year to year. In a light snow year, you could probably start even earlier, in a heavy snow year, a bit late is probably better. The "choke" point for that first 700 miles for snow is San Jacinto mountain and Fuller Ridge, about mile 160-170, something like that.

    I used Postholer for pre-planning. lots and lots of info there. I could share my resupply points, they are fair standard for a lot of folks.

    Permits: The best thing to do to make things as easy as possible is to get that long distance permit (and fire permit, which is easy). BUT, you don't actually even need a permit to hike those first 700 miles of the PCT. IF you do not have a permit, however, there are camping restrictions in a couple places. Basically, there are a couple areas where you cannot camp EXCEPT in an established campground if you do not have a permit. Postholer has those details.

    But, just go ahead and try to get that permit. Just send the request as soon as is possible, I forget the dates when you can do so, it's detailed on pcta.org, or something like that.


    Just want to jump in here for a second. The bolded part of rob's post is not actually correct. You do need a long distance permit for any trip over 500 miles. If you are starting at Campo you need the permit from the PCTA (one from the 50/day limit). There are also other types of long distant permits available - say for starting at Kennedy and going south to Mexico, etc. Some think that since the PCTA is not the govt that they don't have authority on the permits but they do as there is a multiagency agreement between them and the Forest Service, The National Park Service, the State of CA, etc to issue the permits. You are required to have one, or separate permits issued by the specific agency controlling the specific park or whatever. Don't be one of the anarchists running around doing what ever and screw the pooch for the rest of the hikers. They are trying to save the Trail and the environment from overuse so we can all enjoy it. They could easily make this much more restrictive and hard to navigate if people abuse the setup. It is fair and we can live with it.

    There are also new rules for 2020 on flip flopping (it voids your permit) or taking more than 7 days off trail in a row (it voids your permit). People this year had permits cancelled, some got fined for not having what they needed, and some got escorted out to the highway. Rangers were checking permits and making notes on them of date/time they were checked and where.

    Here are some links to read about the rules:

    https://www.pcta.org/2019/continuous...the-pct-68106/

    https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-tr...stance-permit/

  17. #17
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyoming View Post
    Just want to jump in here for a second. The bolded part of rob's post is not actually correct. You do need a long distance permit for any trip over 500 miles. If you are starting at Campo you need the permit from the PCTA (one from the 50/day limit). There are also other types of long distant permits available - say for starting at Kennedy and going south to Mexico, etc. Some think that since the PCTA is not the govt that they don't have authority on the permits but they do as there is a multiagency agreement between them and the Forest Service, The National Park Service, the State of CA, etc to issue the permits. You are required to have one, or separate permits issued by the specific agency controlling the specific park or whatever. Don't be one of the anarchists running around doing what ever and screw the pooch for the rest of the hikers. They are trying to save the Trail and the environment from overuse so we can all enjoy it. They could easily make this much more restrictive and hard to navigate if people abuse the setup. It is fair and we can live with it.

    There are also new rules for 2020 on flip flopping (it voids your permit) or taking more than 7 days off trail in a row (it voids your permit). People this year had permits cancelled, some got fined for not having what they needed, and some got escorted out to the highway. Rangers were checking permits and making notes on them of date/time they were checked and where.
    Sorry, that first part simply is NOT true. The PCTA does great things, and I do subscribe to their philosophies, but by the letter of the law, you do NOT NEED A PERMIT for those first 700 miles. This has been debated endlessly elsewhere, please those reading this, do due diligence and find out for yourself. Call the PCTA and ask them directly. Don't let them beat around the bush with their answer, ask them if it is legal to hike the first 700 miles with NO permits. It is, with a few minor camping restrictions.

    Remember: the permit thing covers CAMPING, it has nothing directly to do with hiking, where all along the PCT, no permit is needed for hiking, I think, at least (I'm fuzzy further north). If you do NOT have a permit though, in say, Yosemite, and you have anything but a daypack, you'll get a citation. I've been checked there twice not, both times on the north side of Donahue pass. But it would be legal to, say, speed hike or run from Tuolumne to Donahue and back w/o a permit.

    There are only a couple places in that first 700 miles where you need a permit to disperse camp, and those places are easy to either hike through (one is 10 miles) or to camp in a developed site (in the 25 miles just before Mt. Laguna).

    That all being said, I do think it a good idea to follow along, play nice and get the permit, if you can. I wouldn't go so far as to say you're an Anarchist if you decide to start at Campo w/o a permit, but you are being at least recalcitrant....

    The last part, about the new rules does appear to be true, and I think this is a good thing.

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    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Sorry, that first part simply is NOT true. The PCTA does great things, and I do subscribe to their philosophies, but by the letter of the law, you do NOT NEED A PERMIT for those first 700 miles.
    I have been doing endless hours of research on this very topic just in case I couldn't get a permit (I got one!). Based on everything I have read, Rob is correct. The PCT forum on Reddit was a good source that led me to many other sources. One source is Postholer. While he has some detractors, his fact layout on his website is pretty good. Check it out at this link.
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Sorry, that first part simply is NOT true. The PCTA does great things, and I do subscribe to their philosophies, but by the letter of the law, you do NOT NEED A PERMIT for those first 700 miles. This has been debated endlessly elsewhere, please those reading this, do due diligence and find out for yourself. Call the PCTA and ask them directly. Don't let them beat around the bush with their answer, ask them if it is legal to hike the first 700 miles with NO permits. It is, with a few minor camping restrictions.

    Remember: the permit thing covers CAMPING, it has nothing directly to do with hiking, where all along the PCT, no permit is needed for hiking, I think, at least (I'm fuzzy further north). If you do NOT have a permit though, in say, Yosemite, and you have anything but a daypack, you'll get a citation. I've been checked there twice not, both times on the north side of Donahue pass. But it would be legal to, say, speed hike or run from Tuolumne to Donahue and back w/o a permit.

    There are only a couple places in that first 700 miles where you need a permit to disperse camp, and those places are easy to either hike through (one is 10 miles) or to camp in a developed site (in the 25 miles just before Mt. Laguna).

    That all being said, I do think it a good idea to follow along, play nice and get the permit, if you can. I wouldn't go so far as to say you're an Anarchist if you decide to start at Campo w/o a permit, but you are being at least recalcitrant....

    The last part, about the new rules does appear to be true, and I think this is a good thing.
    Ok I will concede that you don't (by the letter of the law) need a permit to hike. But to camp.

    But I am going to rant a bit now.

    But let's be a bit mature about this this problem of way too many hikers. The Federal/State agencies are working directly with the PCTA to manage this problem. They are doing a pretty good job. And there is always some anarchist (you may not want to call them that but I do) who jumps up and screams about his freedom to do what he wants and that attitude will (family blog) it up for everyone if it is encouraged. Screw those people as they only care about themselves and could care less about the mess they leave behind. Don't facilitate them.

    Do the right thing here. If you did not get the permit in the lottery then follow the rules and be flexible. There are fully legitimate always to still get a full hike in. Start north of the border and hike south to Campo. Then get another LD permit to hike north from where you started south. Do a SOBO, etc.

    Anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyoming View Post
    Ok I will concede that you don't (by the letter of the law) need a permit to hike. But to camp.

    But I am going to rant a bit now.

    But let's be a bit mature about this this problem of way too many hikers. The Federal/State agencies are working directly with the PCTA to manage this problem. They are doing a pretty good job. And there is always some anarchist (you may not want to call them that but I do) who jumps up and screams about his freedom to do what he wants and that attitude will (family blog) it up for everyone if it is encouraged. Screw those people as they only care about themselves and could care less about the mess they leave behind. Don't facilitate them.

    Do the right thing here. If you did not get the permit in the lottery then follow the rules and be flexible. There are fully legitimate always to still get a full hike in. Start north of the border and hike south to Campo. Then get another LD permit to hike north from where you started south. Do a SOBO, etc.

    Anyway.
    I don't disagree with what you are saying, but I was talking about legalities, not what the right thing to do is. Whether or not it is the right thing to do, it is LEGAL to hike those first 700 miles w/o a permit.

    I also will rant just a bit... When I hiked those first 700 miles last year (with permit, on my permit date FWIW) I was surprised on how relatively uncrowded the trail was. Sure, 30 of us (Scout/Frodo clients) all hit the trail that day simultaneously (and I'm sure a dozen or two at other times that day), but by the 3rd day, I was mostly hiking with only one other guy (we hiked first couple weeks together), and other than the occasional pass/be passed person, you only see groups at major stops and camps. And by week 2 or so, wow, you feel like you almost own the trail. Keep in mind I had just come off a big section of the AT, where crowding (with NO permit system) is degrading the trail. I also avoid most of the popular hostel stops.

    The story changes dramatically when you get into the sierra; THERE it seems there is a real issue with crowds and overuse. There, the permit system is in full force, as it should be.

    What I'm trying to say is that sure, by the letter of the desires of the good people at the PCTA, you should have their permit for hiking those first 700 miles, or at least get the local NF permits, though I don't think there is any quota on those, so what's the point there? But this is a subjective thing, and really, where it matters (IMHO) is further north. I honestly don't know what I'd do w/o a permit this coming March. But I do have one, so I'll never know if I'd actually do the right thing or not.

    Ldsailor: Are you going to try again in January to get a permit? Just curious. If so, you do know about the "multiple device" scheme for increasing your odds, right?

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