I went to FedEx Office the other day during my lunch break and scanned the required documents (ID, Passport, and 2 pages of application) for my permit to enter Canada at the Northern Terminus of the PCT.
The terminus and Monument 77 are pretty much in the middle of nowhere, so there’s not a manned border crossing. It is illegal to enter Canada from the US via the PCT without this permit. Canadian Government doesn’t mess around, as I learned back in my tour management days, when I almost got denied entry at Niagara Falls going to Toronto. I was 27 or so at the time and had an incident of youthful indiscretion way back when I was 17, but they were well aware and took me back into the back office to question me. Luckily I didn’t lie to them and they decided to let me in.
This permit had some very specific rules (ALL CAPS ONLY, for example) and the word is if you make one mistake they reject it and you have to start all over. Pretty sure I did everything right. I’ll find out in 8 weeks or so apparently.
I think it’s kinda nuts that you have to apply to cross the border 8-10 weeks before the START of your hike, even though you won’t be crossing for another 7 months or so.
Anyway, one more step accomplished for my pre-hike prep. I’m a little over 3 months out from my start date. Still a bit terrified.
March 23, 2020. That’s my start date from Campo, California on the US-Mexico border. This blog will serve as my journal and a way for friends and family to track my progress and join in the adventure.
A quick note on how I got here. I started hiking regularly in 2013 and have been following PCT hiker blogs (and other trails – AT, CDT, Te Araroa, etc) ever since. However, the PCT has always been the trail that has captured my imagination.
I don’t know exactly when I finally decided I was going to seriously attempt a thru-hike, but I’m going to say it was somewhere around 2016 or 2017. Since then I’ve been gathering gear, going on hikes, and mentally preparing for this epic adventure and now that I have my permit, it’s starting to get real.
I applied for my permit from a small lodge on the outskirts of Yosemite National Park on October 29th. That was the first day the permit application portal was open for 2020 and I happened to be in Yosemite for the wedding of two of my best friends.
It was a nerve-wracking morning, as I was placed in a virtual queue on the website with several thousand people (it ended up being far fewer) all vying to get permits themselves. I was logged in on three different browsers, giving myself three virtual spots in line. My best spot was 3,264. Didn’t seem like great odds, considering there are only 50 spots per day available (35 until January) on each day. However, when my turn finally came up 2.5 hours later, the day I was planning on, March 23, still had 6 spots available.
I filled out my info, submitted, and received confirmation a couple of weeks later that I was good to go.
The blog right now is in it’s infant stages, so the layout and content will evolve in the next few months. I will include posts on my training, any additional gear purchases and testing I do, and anything else leading up to my start date that seems interesting. Once on trail, I don’t intend to blog every single day, as some of the blogs I’ve followed in the past have tried to do. I feel that’s a way to get burned out. Indeed, many of those blogs started strong and then somewhere around Northern California or Oregon they started to fade out and the updates were less frequent, if not altogether absent. I will certainly try to blog as often as possible in order to maintain a good record of my trek and also to keep friends and loved ones apprised of where I am and what I’m doing.
Finally, I want to give a big shout out to Rozanne, aka MukMuk (PCT 2013), for being one of my main inspirations. Her blog was (and still is) a great source of information, wisdom, entertainment, and just an overall wonderful expression of life on the trail. I gave a wink and a nod to her blog with the title of this site. Thanks Muk!