Back on November 1st the Pacific Crest Trail Association began accepting applications for 2018 Pacific Crest Tail permits. I was anxiously sat in front of my computer with multiple browsers open along with one on my phone. I watch the timer tick down towards 10AM when the permits would go live. I read comments on Facebook where others talked of server crashes as everyone floods the site, which apparently happened last year. I began to have flashbacks to trying to snag concert tickets as soon as they went on sale knowing they would sell out almost immediately.
When the timer hit 0 I refreshed everything and began filling out the same information in multiple windows as quickly as possible. Even though I was just attempting to submit an application it was first come first serve and they only accepted 35 applications per day, matching the number of permits made available. However, it wasn’t a complete dash for the finish line as once you selected your start date you had 13 minutes to complete your application. This seemed like plenty of time to fill things out, until I hit “Next” to move to the next page and nothing happened. After 2 minutes of waiting I got to the next screen and once again quickly filled out the required information in each browser before clicking “Next”… and waited. This happened on each page, with the little clock ticking down before my selected date would be released and I would have to start all over again. “Are you Traveling by foot or by Horse, mule or other equine animal?” Foot but a mule might come in handy. Next. “Do you have a child under the age of 18 joining you?” no.. no man. Next.”Do you want to purchase the extra permit to camp on Mt. Whitney?” Yes, but ain’t nobody got time for that, I guess I’m day hiking it. Next. This continued until I made my way to the final screen with 2 minutes left, the same amount time it had been taking to move from one page to the next. I clicked submit and anxiously waited to see if I made it through in time. After what seemed like an eternity the confirmation page loaded, I made it. I took a deep breath and thought “If just applying for a permit is this nerve wracking I’m going to be a mess when I’m about to start”
After a few weeks of obsessively checking the status of my permit application I received an email stating that my application had been reviewed and approved. I will be starting my journey on April 3rd 2018. With my start date finalized I submitted for my sabbatical from work, finalized my travel plans and began to second guess my start date. I wanted to start a bit earlier than the ideal mid to late April start date to avoid a large rush of hikers but after seeing how quickly permits were taken realized that with as popular as the trail is, and a limited number of permits, it’s going to be the same amount of people regardless of when I start. With starting early I run the risk of facing less than ideal snow conditions in the mountains, mainly the Sierra and the San Jacinto, here’s hoping it’s a mild winter in southern California.