Yesterday the first round of PCT long-distance hiking permits were released on the PCTA website at 10:30 PST. I got a start date of April 22nd!!!
When I hiked the JMT last year, there were all kinds of articles on how to navigate the confusing NPS permit for the JMT. We ended up having to fax a permit in every day for two weeks straight until we got our permit in the lottery. Permit denial messages littered my email inbox. The difficult permit system was a bonding experience for everyone on the trail.
For the PCT, there was almost nothing online about what it would look like once it opened. Given my experience with the JMT, I was a little bit nervous as I set up my situation room (the kitchen counter) with my laptop to get ready.
When 10:30 hit, I refreshed the page, and the PCTA website crashed. It stayed crashed for an hour. Imagine: 2,000+ people sitting there refreshing their page at a single moment. Then refreshing, refreshing… I knew that everyone else was probably locked out too, but I couldn’t help but panic a little and think that it was working fine for everyone else and they were getting all of the permits.
Once you finally get in, the permit process is very easy and simple. It asks you to answer a few questions (are you starting Sobo or Nobo from near the Mexican border) then it gives you a calendar full of dates, showing how many permits are left. You pick a date and it reserves it for you for 5 minutes while you finish the application. It asks you whether you’re going to resupply through through Whitney Portal (if you say yes it’s 21$; you don’t need this to summit Whitney), and asks you to donate 35$ to the PCTA for a membership. Both are optional, but I think it’s as good a time as any to get your PCTA membership.