Changes to PCT permit rules affect Sierra hiking

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Re: Changes to PCT permit rules affect Sierra hiking

Post by TurboHike » Thu Oct 31, 2019 8:58 am

I am not surprised that the rules are becoming more strict. I've been following a few PCT hikers this past year on instagram and youtube. Some of these folks treat the PCT permit like the golden ticket to come and go as they please. If someone is gonna stretch or break the rules, they shouldn't post a video of it on youtube or instagram! Rangers have internet access too, right? A few examples I noticed:

-- several hikers admitted to quitting the trail. The hikers went home, reconsidered, came back a week later, and started hiking again;
-- a hiker left the trail in Lone Pine, went to Las Vegas for the weekend to party with friends, then returned to the trail;
-- a hiker left the trail to travel home for a relative's birthday, then returned a few days later to continue hiking;
-- a hiker did a multi-flip-flop. Skipped the Sierra Nevada, hiked from Tahoe to Northern Terminus, then flipped and did Tahoe to Kennedy Mdws S;

These are the ones that come to mind, but there were others too. The PCTA could do a better job of outlining exactly what is and is not acceptable behavior. Or maybe it's just my (mis)-understanding of existing rules. I am not an expert, but IMO the above examples stretch the intent of the rules, as I understand things, and perhaps even break those rules. Enforcement appears to be non-existent too, as mentioned above.

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Re: Changes to PCT permit rules affect Sierra hiking

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:03 am

I do not think the PCT was ever envisioned to become this crowded. The social aspects; of blogging while on the trail, partying, and all our electronic devices, have quite suddenly taken over the more traditional intents of thru-hiking. Thankfully, by the time the PCT hikers go through southern California, many of the "wanna-be" and "party motivated" thru-hikers are weeded out.

Given the PCT permit is not part of the general Sierra trail quota system, it makes total sense, that the most impacted part of the PCT, the Sierra, should be done before or after the mid-season onslaught of users. The regulated section is about 300 miles. 35 days is about 9 miles per day; 20 miles days on the PCT are normal (when snow-free). Enough time even for those who choose to continue under snowy conditions. I do not see this as creating unsafe travel. Those who are not prepared for snow, quickly bail out at Cottonwood Pass. I do not think permit issues would make them continue; you can either handle the snow or not. A later season permit from Kennedy Meadows south should be easy to get; few but PCT hikers use that trailhead.

However, I do not like that I now will have to compete with PCT hikers who "bounce" to get a first-come permit. :( Especially bad for Kearsarge Pass/Onion Valley trailhead, which is one of the best ways to quickly get into the high country. On the other hand, this should reduce the crowds from Onion Valley to the PCT; a better experience IF one can get a permit.

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Re: Changes to PCT permit rules affect Sierra hiking

Post by Gazelle » Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:11 pm

I completely agree with turbohike, I think many pct hikers think they can do anything they want in any way, if that is the case everyone should just get a pct permit and do whatever they want. I think the resupply should be like for everyone else24 hours. I was only on the PCT/JMT twice this year both times by the Muir hut and in the 2 to 3 miles I saw/passed a minimum of 30 people the 1st time and about 20 the second, yes in only 2 to 3 miles..Thank god I am off trail most of the time. I think the PCT permit is very much in need of regulating and/or some serious revising! luckily almost all these people this year were polite unlike some other years.
The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before. Albert Einstein

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Re: Changes to PCT permit rules affect Sierra hiking

Post by rightstar76 » Fri Nov 01, 2019 7:32 am

Here is a more recent article (Oct 25) on the changes: ... it-changes
Of course, trekkers will still be allowed to exit the Sierra and travel to nearby towns for a quick resupply in Lone Pine, California, or a much needed zero day in Mammoth Lakes, for example, but any gap of more than seven days on a hiker’s itinerary will effectively void their permit. “If people want to skip a section of the southern Sierra and return when conditions are more favorable, they’re welcome to do it, but they will need a local-agency permit
Very confusing. The PCTA website doesn't mention seven days. It states once you leave Kennedy Meadows South is when the continuity rules kick in. However, the quotes from both the Outside and The Trek articles state you have to keep hiking on the PCT uninterrupted or you will need an additional permit.
Last edited by rightstar76 on Sun Nov 03, 2019 4:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Changes to PCT permit rules affect Sierra hiking

Post by oleander » Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:01 pm

Agreed that the PCT is crowded and we don't want to see any further abuse of the system.

However, what's wrong with taking a week off and then returning to the trail? Honestly, that is a time-honored PCT tradition. People have a wedding to go to. Or they're walking through Central Oregon and want to drop off to spend a few days with a friend there whom they hadn't seen in 10 years. Or they get an injury and they just have to go sit in a hot springs or put their feet up for a week. Or they go to Yosemite Valley for a few days, to allow for the notoriously torrential Northern Yosemite creeks to subside a bit. Sometimes, delays are driven by legit safety decisions.

Regardless, taking a week off and then returning to the trail does not somehow *add* to the number of people on the trail. Thus, IMO it makes absolutely no sense to make these people obtain a second permit just b/c they took a few days off. Not to mention, it is hardly enforceable. How does the ranger at Muir Pass possibly know you've taken a week to party in Bishop?

We have a lot of overcrowding problems and we should focus on those issues, rather than taking it out on PCTers who got off trail for a while.

- Oleander

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Re: Changes to PCT permit rules affect Sierra hiking

Post by Lumbergh21 » Sun Dec 01, 2019 8:23 pm

A much easier rule to enforce, and I'd be surprised if it isn't implemented, would be to eliminate people hiking to Yosemite Valley on their PCT permit. In 2020 Oregon will begin requiring PCT hikers to remain within 1/2 mile of the PCT through certain heavily impacted trails in that state.

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