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  1. #1
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    Default Late winter PCT Section hike

    If you had 2 weeks in mid to late March, where would you suggest?

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    Someplace other than along the PCT.

    PCT is a great spring/summer/fall trail. The parts that are accessible in March/April are more of the lowlights than the highlights of the trail. Pick a trail that is awesome in the early spring instead.

    Good luck and have fun!
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  3. #3
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    Definitely something in SO Cal. the trouble with simply doing the first 250 miles or so (2 weeks-ish) is that you'll hit some high altitude in that first stretch, San Jacinto in particular, that on a "normal" snow year could be problematic. If a light snow year, you could get over it in late March.

    But perhaps the best plan would be to start at, say, Acton (mile 440) or Aqua Dulce (mile 450-ish) and hike to Kennedy (mile 702). Lots of hot dry areas in this section, but mid-late March would be a great time to get that done. I thoroughly enjoyed hiking this section last year in April. Late March would be even better.

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    Okay, that being said, if you are trying to section hike the whole of the PCT and want to start with this early spring section, that is a different matter and you would probably do well in several of the southern CA sections. Heck, start at the southern border and hike two weeks north. Then again, skiing the high Sierras might be nice if it's a good snow year. Snowshoeing the North Cascades might work well that time of year also on a good snow year.

    Try
    - The Oregon Desert Trail?
    - The Olympic Coast of Washington
    - Maybe the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island BC?
    - Maybe the Arizona Trail?
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  5. #5
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    As I just said, simply starting at the southern terminus in mid March and hiking north for 2 weeks would be problematic on a "normal" snow year, because you'll run smack into San Jacinto. Passable on a light snow year, maybe, in late March.

    Then there's the permit thing, though technically you don't need a permit, if you follow some camping restrictions. postholler.com has those details. It is very easy, however, to get a permit further along the trail. I got one instantly for my wife to join me at Acton, into Kennedy meadows last year (about 260 miles).

    Not sure why Nsherry is trying to steer you away from the PCT in SO California, I disagree with his poo-pooing of your potential plan, but of course that's just MHO. Fine hiking down there in late Winter/early spring. I was very pleasantly surprised at the quality of hiking.

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    I understand snow duration is variable from year to year. Would first part of April be “probable “ to be able to get through San Jacinto?

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    Buddy wants to do some PCT. not planning on doing it all. Dates are negotiable but must be back by June 1 or so. I live in Phoenix so it makes sense. AZT is out, he’s not a fan. Looking at Anza north. Looks like more scenic (though I don’t know), and quite a bit of diverse scenery.

  8. #8
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pyroman53 View Post
    I understand snow duration is variable from year to year. Would first part of April be “probable “ to be able to get through San Jacinto?
    Tough call.... I left Campo (the southern terminus) on March 29th of last year. By the time I got there (8 days or so later) San Jacinto was just then very doable, minimal snow traipsing/post holeing, though a week earlier was a lot tougher, so I heard. So an early April start is probably fine. It really all depends on the snow levels for that spring. I cannot remember is 2018 was a big year or not. I think it was slightly bigger than normal. postholer might have that historical snow level data.

    Those first few hundred miles of the PCT are very diverse and interesting. And beautiful. The only aspect that makes those miles tough is the heat, but that early, the heat is reasonable. Brilliant starry cool, clear nights. Most of the people I was hiking with hardly ever pitched their tents.
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