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PCT long distance permit questions

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PCT long distance permit questions

Postby Jimmy2.0 » Sun Nov 29, 2015 11:06 pm

Looking to enjoy about 700 miles of California this summer, Walker Pass to Chester CA. My son and I are competent backpackers.

My first question is if we want to do a flip flop of this run (we have connections in Mammoth Lake) do we need to get 2 permits, which would make each under 500 miles, thus negating the long distance PCT permit?

Secondly, what is the rule concerning leaving the trail. When long distance backpacking, I find it nice to occasionally zero at a hotel to rest my bones, eat, laundry, eat, resupply, and sleep. Also while long hiking, a rigid schedule/route is sometimes difficult to keep (getting off trail and back on the same day), does this present problems. Am I worrying about "rules" that are not enforced?

Are thru hikers just allowed to pass relatively unmolested, would like to do the entire PCT over the next couple of years, but the California section seems to require a personal bureaucrat.

Thanks in advance
Jimmy



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Re: PCT long distance permit questions

Postby dave54 » Mon Nov 30, 2015 4:15 pm

How many thru hikers actually bother to get a permit? I am sure some do, however at least half of the thru hikers I encounter locally admit they never bothered to get one. Some could be pulling my leg, that still leaves a sizable number without one.

In over 40 years of backpacking I can count one hand with fingers left over the number of times some ranger type has stopped me on a trail to check my paperwork.

One of the purposes of a permit is tracking use data. This helps managers set policy and suggest regulation, and to a lesser degree trail maintenance funding allocations. You may not always agree with agency policy and regulations, but they should be based on accurate data and not guesses and suppositions.
Last edited by dave54 on Mon Nov 30, 2015 5:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PCT long distance permit questions

Postby maverick » Mon Nov 30, 2015 4:50 pm

Hi Jimmy,

Have you checked out this website, you will find a lot of information there: http://www.pcta.org/
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: PCT long distance permit questions

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Nov 30, 2015 5:40 pm

In the event that you did not qualify for a PCT permit you would likely stop somewhere like the station in Lake Isabella to issue a permit for entering at Walker Pass. It would be a basic permit and they likely would only write down your plans for being in their wilderness and beyond that you just have a blank ticket. I did this in 2011 when I started a 95 day hike out of Golden Trout Wilderness. Then you would get a new permit when you enter your next section.

When it comes to regulations the enforcement of long distance hikers is mostly non existent. There are plenty of areas where you will certainly be violating one condition of your permit or another but it's highly unlikely to become a problem. The only issues I have ever had is being told in Yosemite that my Golden Trout Wilderness permit was no good now that I was in the park and I needed a new one in which I was told by the permit office that I did not need a new one. In 2013 I was told in Kings Canyon that because my Yosemite Wilderness permit had no information at all on it about being in SEKI I needed a new one. An order I simply ignored and kept hiking. And White Mountain Ranger station in Bishop gave me problems because my itinerary included camping outside the wilderness so they would not issue beyond that point. I should have lied and said I would camp in the wilderness like someone else I know did but it wouldn't have completely helped anyway because they have their own policy of not issuing a permit beyond 30 days which if your not remaining in a single federal land I don't believe is even legal to not issue one.
Last edited by RoguePhotonic on Tue Dec 01, 2015 5:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PCT long distance permit questions

Postby markskor » Mon Nov 30, 2015 6:08 pm

The PCT has its own rules...confusing? Yes. Making any sense? Not Really.

My understanding is that you will need 2 different permits, as you are going in two different directions. The good news though, is that getting a permit at/starting out from Walker Ranch (Cow-pie central), mile 617, one going NOBO - from there should be relatively easy, and will enable you to get through to Mammoth legally on a single permit. Then you would need another, starting at Chester going South. Not familiar with the permit quotas that far northern Ca, but thinking it shouldn't be that hard either. The main problem is that 500 mile thing, especially going south, and the Yosemite bottleneck. The rules: "Anyone hiking 500 miles or more on a single trip of the PCT can get a permit for the PCT. This permit eliminates the need to get separate permits for all the national parks, wilderness areas, etc. you will be passing through. For PCTA members, the permit is free."

I would lie, ask for the first one starting out Walker Ranch, mile 627, (and even though only going to Mammoth, mile 880, but) - saying you are going to Sierra City, mile 1171. The second one, starting at Chester - mile 1320, and saying going way past Mammoth, (alas only mile 880,)...(instead you are exiting at Kearsarge/ Bishop - mile 760?), thus slightly exaggerating/ circumventing the 500 mile rule...enabling you then to pass through Donahue legally - the bottleneck. (The only place where you may be asked/checked for anything - permit and/or bear can - will be in Yosemite.)

You then can always exit at Mammoth early, for any number of valid reasons.

RE, leaving the trail...It is my understanding that legally you can always temporarily "exit" anywhere for 24 hours and rejoin the trail again...hotel, restock, re-gear...but, as you put it so succinctly, you are worrying about "rules" that are not enforced, nobody checks. Many PCT hikers nowadays, skip whole sections, hitchhike a few hundred miles, and continue merrily on their way un-contested. Maybe it the fact that their permit says they started at Campo (yeah right!), but they hop-scotch along NOBO, hit and miss, all on one PCT permit. Many leave the trail for weeks, and who is to know?
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Re: PCT long distance permit questions

Postby RoguePhotonic » Tue Dec 01, 2015 5:08 pm

The leaving the wilderness and re-entering within 24 hours applies to certain areas like SEKI but Yosemite says you have to get a new permit if you exit the wilderness at all.
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Re: PCT long distance permit questions

Postby Jimmy2.0 » Fri Dec 04, 2015 5:55 am

Thanks for the replies. I also spoke to a forest service employee, who was very helpful. It's always an issue when there are many agencies to deal with. We are going to get an online permit(s) thru forestry. This will allow the freedom to explore and zero, as well as take a lower trail if weather warrants. While out there I would hate to miss the HST due to paperwork. On my side of the country, we just go backpacking and occasionally stick a couple bucks in an envelope.

Thanks,
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