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  1. #1
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    Default Campsites during "the season"

    I'm thinking it might be difficult to find available space for camping when you start during the "season" -- when everybody else is starting at the rate of 50 / day. What's your experience on this? Thanks!

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    Day 1 logical campsites are: Hauser Creek, Lake Morena, and Boulder Oaks at rough miles 15, 20 and 26.

    This is one of the reasons they limit it to 50 a day. As Scout (former exec director of PCTA) said, it's the "pig moving though the python" effect, where without the limit you'll get > 300 people in a peak 3 day window. If 50 is bad, imagine 120 all trying to camp and poop in the same place.

    I was past the bubble last year, but crowding is something you have to put up with, until the random distribution sets in as people speed up, slow down, or quit. That said, I don't know if 50/day is really a legit number. IIRC my start date was "full" on the PCTA site, and I think it took me 180 miles before I even _met_ 49 other hikers.

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    Default Campsites during "the season"

    Thanks, ADH. Not really worried about hiking with a crowd, and only a little worried about available camping real estate in places like campgrounds. More concerned that it's gonna be late in the day after a long day hiking, I'm not gonna want to carry that load another step, and the only thing for the next 3 miles is a spot big enough for 2 people. Already taken. Did you run into much of that?

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    My PCT hike is now nearly 15 years ago and things have changed. But I suspect that after the first couple of days, hikers will start to figure out the dry camping routine and can walk a few steps off into the desert and lie down to sleep nearly anywhere. Water sources will be crowded, for sure. Learn to manage your water and lots of opportunities open up. It's a similar situation on the AT--there are plenty of pristine, quiet dispersed sites between the overcrowded shelters.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

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    Garlic
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    I ran into "the only spot for miles is taken" only once on a very long traversing descent near Mt Lassen. That was a long day.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

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    Quote Originally Posted by garlic08 View Post
    My PCT hike is now nearly 15 years ago and things have changed. But I suspect that after the first couple of days, hikers will start to figure out the dry camping routine and can walk a few steps off into the desert and lie down to sleep nearly anywhere. Water sources will be crowded, for sure. Learn to manage your water and lots of opportunities open up. It's a similar situation on the AT--there are plenty of pristine, quiet dispersed sites between the overcrowded shelters.
    I took a gander at the pcta website a couple days ago and came across the list of folks that thru-hiked last year. Looked to be maybe 7 or 800 names or more on that list. I bet it was much shorter 15 years ago! (I'm a little skeptical if all those folks really did the whole thing - but I don't know)

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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Garlic is right. Before you know it, a semi-level bit of ground large enough for your air mattress will be perfect. Youll be Cowboy camping like the rest of us.
    The important part: Just do it!
    Good luck.
    Ps: Dont think for a minute that every name on the PCTA starting calendar will show up. Or show up on the correct date. Stuff happens.
    Wayne

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    No issues at all in 2015 starting April 12. That was the first year of the 50/day quota system. I only had one time over the first week where my preferred location was full and I just hiked another mile or so. Many cowboy camp and if you're open yo that space is even more plentiful. I wouldn't worry about it.

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    Gotcha, things were really crowded at the Park in Idyllwild, but at the same time there were no specific campsites or limits on the campsites. Some people camped on a hill, but there was nobody turned away. We stayed at Lake Hemet (public campground) and nobody was turned away either.

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    Default Campsites during "the season"

    ok, Coffee and ADH, thanks for the insight. Maybe I'll wait. Was thinking about heading for Campo in early Feb, depending on weather. Figuring I might want to avoid the crowds - especially if the temp range is 40s - 70s. And REALLY if the Jacintos are mostly free of ice. Mainly considering early start for the stated concern - not wanting to hit unavailable tentsites. Sounds like it's not an issue..
    Still -- if the Jacintos ARE ice-free - especially places like Fuller Ridge - this might be a golden and rare opportunity for some early season hiking.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jefals View Post
    I'm thinking it might be difficult to find available space for camping when you start during the "season" -- when everybody else is starting at the rate of 50 / day. What's your experience on this? Thanks!
    This will not be an issue unless you really want to hit a specific spot early in the hike and get there late. If you are willing to camp anywhere there are thousands of places to camp. In between all of the named places there are large numbers of 1-2 tent locations all up the trail.

    The total starts are probably closer to 4000 per year but definitely above 3000.

    Re: the Feb start date. This is just too early. There will be bad conditions in several locations if you start that early. Even if you start as late as 1 Apr you will have to deal with snow/ice in the San Jacintos. People who start too early often end up routing around them and thus missing one of the great sections of the hike.

    If you hike normal speeds then the ideal time to start is more like 1 May. Otherwise you will have to slow down and take lots of zeros as you will hit Kennedy too early to get into the Sierra's (in an average year one enters the Sierras about mid-June). If you are average PCT fast then Kennedy Meadows is 5 weeks up trail (20+ per day starting out) then you can leave as late as mid-May (but you will have to deal with some really hot days of course). If you start too early and have to sit around a lot you will both burn lots of extra money and get out of shape.

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    In addition to what everyone has said, I would add that "there's always room for one more" in most locations because thru hikers on the PCT are almost all friendly and won't mind if you camp with them. Only one time did a jerk tell me not to camp in his location (not even really "his" location, I was pitching maybe 20 feet away). People are friendly. In that one case, I chose to avoid a confrontation and just backtracked a short distance to where I had seen another suitable site.

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    Unless you are following a contour around a mountain or in a narrow canyon, and even then options may be available, there are almost infinite possibilities for campsites. Most of the time I would have my camp set up and hikers would unknowingly pass right by me as they diligently marched on to the next half-mile app campsite...
    Lonehiker

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    Unless you are following a contour around a mountain or in a narrow canyon, and even then options may be available, there are almost infinite possibilities for campsites. Most of the time I would have my camp set up and hikers would unknowingly pass right by me as they diligently marched on to the next half-mile app campsite...
    As they should. The PCTA works with Halfmile and Guthook to limit the number of "known" campsites to avoid impacting more areas.

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    I have developed and formulated a few things over my hiking all "Three" of the trails. One is that I do not plan nor do I seek official camping spots unless I am required by regulation. I consider my sleeping location to be Just a longer break. I sleep away from things such as water, roads, food sources and animal trails. What I map out and plan for are drinkable water sources, re-supply gaps and crazy elevation changes. I often hike well after dark and find it fun to see where i "sleep-over" A "desert rat" long ago taught me to not Hike "To" a water source, but instead walk "Thru" a water source. If it works out I make my dinner at a water source some time between 4:00PM to 7:00PM. I then only carry enough water to safely get me to a dry camp and then to the next water source the next day. Works for me!!!

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    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllDownhillFromHere View Post
    As they should. The PCTA works with Halfmile and Guthook to limit the number of "known" campsites to avoid impacting more areas.
    I question the validity of this statement. The listed campsites are more than likely simply from observed impacted areas. The PCTA, half-mile, Erik the Black, Guthook, Postholer etc. don't sit down and go over any of this. This is quite obvious when you compare and find different sites referenced.
    Lonehiker

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    Re: the Feb start date. This is just too early. There will be bad conditions in several locations if you start that early. Even if you start as late as 1 Apr you will have to deal with snow/ice in the San Jacintos. People who start too early often end up routing around them and thus missing one of the great sections of the hike
    I'm not planning a thru-hike. Just gonna hike till I get tired of hiking, or hit conditions I don't want to deal with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jefals View Post
    I'm thinking it might be difficult to find available space for camping when you start during the "season" -- when everybody else is starting at the rate of 50 / day. What's your experience on this? Thanks!
    CA, OR, and WA are big places that aren't yet like rush hr in Atlanta on Hwy 400 with a dusting of OMG its snow. You'll find places to camp.

    People have their tendencies. Just like the tourons that thin out who are tethered on a short leash to their motor vehicles as you move away from roads so it is with hikers as you step off trail interstates such as the PCT.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G900A using Tapatalk

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by StarMan View Post
    I have developed and formulated a few things over my hiking all "Three" of the trails. One is that I do not plan nor do I seek official camping spots unless I am required by regulation. I consider my sleeping location to be Just a longer break. I sleep away from things such as water, roads, food sources and animal trails. What I map out and plan for are drinkable water sources, re-supply gaps and crazy elevation changes. I often hike well after dark and find it fun to see where i "sleep-over" A "desert rat" long ago taught me to not Hike "To" a water source, but instead walk "Thru" a water source. If it works out I make my dinner at a water source some time between 4:00PM to 7:00PM. I then only carry enough water to safely get me to a dry camp and then to the next water source the next day. Works for me!!!
    Ahh, you ah a learn ah well young Danielson.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    Unless you are following a contour around a mountain or in a narrow canyon, and even then options may be available, there are almost infinite possibilities for campsites. Most of the time I would have my camp set up and hikers would unknowingly pass right by me as they diligently marched on to the next half-mile app campsite...
    Spoken like a savvy lonehiker... stealthy lonecamper

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