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  1. #1
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    Default First 100-200 miles of trail in Dec/Jan?

    I am hoping to tackle the PCT in '21, but the conservation corps that I'm working for in COVID times has moved the end date of my term back from March 28th to April 17th and then to May 1st (due to a combination of logistical/scheduling mistakes and extending the winter furlough) so it's looking like my intended mid-April NOBO start might not be feasible.

    Butttt, with the extended winter furlough, I have three full weeks off over the holidays, so I'm considering doing the first 150ish miles of trail. Then, if I can't start until early May because of my work obligations, I can start where I leave off, and it will be as if I started in April instead of being forced to choose between the time pressure of a May NOBO start or else switching to SOBO. I'm already in Arizona, so it would be a fairly easy drive, no air travel needed, and I have an aunt in SoCal who can potentially help with shuttling. I have good gear for temperatures down to 15 degrees or so. But before I move forward with these plans, I have a few questions that y'all might be able to help with.

    1) Should I expect to see many other hikers on the trail at this time of year? I like a bit of company, but ideally not a lot with the pandemic going on. I'm confident in my ability to safely backpack alone, but it might be nice for mental health reasons to not be in total isolation.

    2) Your favorite guidebook? On the AT, I used both AWOL and Guthook. I plan to download Guthook for the PCT but I'd like something on paper too.

    3) Permit situation? Am I correct in assuming that for a section hike in this area outside of thru season, I don't need a permit? I know the PCTA hasn't made a decision regarding 2021 thru permits yet, and if they decide next month to recommend against thru-hiking, I will respect that decision, but my current understanding is that section hikes are permitted as long as you are self-supported. As a transplant patient, I am already extremely vigilant with my COVID precautions and I would obviously continue to follow all the guidelines. My plan would be to put together my resupply ahead of time and have it delivered to me near the trail by my aunt in the area so that I wouldn't have to go into town.

    4) Anything else I need to consider that make this plan a good/bad idea?

    Thanks for your advice!
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hiker
    Follow along at www.tefltrekker.com

  2. #2
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    I would call the PCTA. Get the straight scoop with the new Lockdown rules starting soon.
    I heard on the radio that Campgrounds, State & National Parks are either closed or severely restricted.
    Good luck.
    Wayne

  3. #3
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    I would call the PCTA. Get the straight scoop with the new Lockdown rules starting soon.
    I heard on the radio that Campgrounds, State & National Parks are either closed or severely restricted.
    Good luck.
    Wayne
    With due respect to the PCTA, they really have nothing to do with enforcing any regulations on the PCT. But yeah, CA is having some pretty strict Covid requirements starting now.

    Other than Covid restrictions, in the fist sections, it's the Cleveland NF that you should contact about permit requirements. One used to be able to hike the first 702 miles w/o any permits, with the restriction that you had to use developed campgrounds in a couple brief stretches, like the first 50 miles and I think one other area. That changed a couple years ago and now you DO need a permit, though who knows if that's true in the winter. Just call the Cleveland NF office.

    I think it would be a good time to hike the first 160-ish miles, basically the border to the Paradise cafe, I cannot remember the trail miles, somewhere near 160. Just past that is some tough snowy terrain. There would probably be some snow early around Mt. Laguna.

  4. #4
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    Good to hear from you again.

    Hike on, happy trails.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
    13 HF>CramptonsG
    14 LHHT
    15 Girard/Quebec/LostTurkey/Saylor/Tuscarora/BlackForest
    16 Kennerdell/Cranberry-Otter/DollyS/WRim-NCT
    17 BearR
    18-19 AT NOBO 1540.5

  5. #5

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    Both San Bernardino and Cleveland NF have a ban on dispersed (i.e. non campground) camping due to high fire danger, not covid related. We had numerous forest fires this year. Current ban is set to expire at the end of the year or early January, but they have extended the order before. You'll have to check in early January to see if they are going to open it up or not. Various NF have pretty much had similar bans since August which has ruined several of my Backpacking plans. This might not be the best winter to try this.

  6. #6

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    Complications may make it difficult to legally pursue the PCT in December and into January as regional ICU availability drops below 15%. Though some State, and National parks will be open for day hiking, campgrounds are closed, which exacerbates dispersed camping closures due to fire dangers in the San Bernardino and Cleveland National Forests as Miner points out (https://www.latimes.com/travel/story...e-order-starts). Currently, "Stay At Home" rules are in effect for the San Diego Region including, San Diego, Imperial, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties.

    It's unfortunate these closures have to happen, but waiting a few weeks to see if these counties are able to relax some of the prohibitions will probably prove worthwhile.

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