Paperwork, Fires, and Transportation
Thursday, January 18, 2018 10:59 pm

In the last couple of weeks, I haven’t made significant progress on my hike planning, but, with just over two months to go, there are a few bits of news to report.


I got my new passport back last week, only two weeks after I sent it in. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it came back. (And also, that I got my old passport back; I wasn’t expecting that at all!) Next up is to send in my Canada entry permit application.

I also obtained my California Campfire Permit, so now I can legally start campfires in California (or, vastly more likely, use my campstove), subject to local restrictions. To obtain the permit, you have to read some material on the website, watch a short video, and answer a short quiz.

From prior experience with these sorts of tests, not surprisingly, the short quiz was the sort where, if you have even a tiny bit of common sense, you can get nearly every question correct by eliminating the obviously incorrect answers and selecting the safest possible answer from the remainder. (And, failing that, you can’t progress to the next question until you select the correct answer.) It’s the sort of useless cover-your-ass kind of exam I’d expect, but it’s so easy that you basically have no viable excuse for not obtaining a permit and following its rules.

And finally, I have received my approved PCT Long-distance Permit, so once my Canada entry permit is approved, I’m all done with my paperwork.

Fire Restrictions

Speaking of fire restrictions, the Angeles National Forest put out a set of extremely strict fire restrictions on January 3rd that caused a bit of a stir when, for the remainder of the year, it prohibited all fires of any sort, even with camp stoves, along roughly 140 miles of trail. Given the dry weather California’s had so far this winter, some form of fire restrictions was not unexpected, but this fire order was far beyond what anyone expected, so early in the year. (Oddly, the order permitted smoking at developed campgrounds, while banning camp stoves there.)

About a week later, a revised order was released, which slightly relaxed the restrictions, allowing camp stoves to be used at a campground, or with a California Campfire Permit, outside of a campground. (It also added a prohibition on explosives.)

So, for about a week there, it looked like I was going to need to go stoveless for about a week and a half, which would have been somewhat novel to me, as that was not something I had been planning for. Given the ongoing drought and the still exceptionally low snow cover in the Sierra — there’s less than a quarter of the average snowpack to date — it doesn’t seem unlikely that there may be further fire restrictions, and having a contingency in mind for that sort of thing is probably a very good idea.

Getting to the Trailhead

On my AT thru-hike, I was fortunate to have a friend in the Atlanta area who was able to pick me up from the train station and shuttle me over to Amicalola Falls. I’ll be starting off my PCT hike similarly: I have another friend in San Diego, coincidentally also named Michael, who has offered to put me up for a day or two and get me to the trailhead. (Thanks so much!)

I still have yet to get my plane tickets to SAN, but knowing how I’m getting to the trail from there makes planning that a lot easier.

Two Months to Go

The next 62 days are going to be somewhat of a whirlwind: I have a number of small gear purchases to make (including a bear canister), some test hikes to accomplish, and a lot of non-hiking work to do (those bills aren’t going to pay themselves)!

Words can not properly describe my excitement for this trip. And yet, to think that two years ago today, I was still three weeks away from deciding to hike the Appalachian Trail, which is entirely responsible for putting me on the path to the PCT. It’s amazing where life leads you sometimes…