We’ve Got a Date


It’s the morning of January 24. Nearly two thousand hikers are swarming the Pacific Crest Trail Association’s web site. At 10:30 a.m. PST every one of them starts clicking away in a hope of securing a permit for 2017 hiking season. At 10:31 a.m. the web site crashes and the next hour feels like a bushwhack through a virtual jungle of the nonfunctional web site.

Once in a while somebody reports a success on Facebook page dedicated to the PCT Class of 2017 or other social media, and every time this happens, the rest of us clicks even more frantically.

My breakthrough comes around 11:10. A simple click, just like the hundred or so I made so far, but this time the small loading circle brings up the application page, and I fill it quickly, before my luck runs out. Few minutes later a confirmation e-mail lands in my mailbox.

Only 35 people are allowed to apply for each day. The permits are vanishing fast, and our nervousness grows until Dave too secures his spot, one of the last 3 remaining for our day.

On April 24 we will touch the Southern Terminus of Pacific Trail in Campo, CA and we will start our long walk home. One hundred and fifty days, perhaps more. Not every one of them will be easy. There will be many days, I’m sure, just as frustrating and disheartening as today was but difficult trails often lead to beautiful destinations, and I think I’m ready to walk this one.