It’s permit day! This is when getting out on the trail and embarking on this momentous adventure becomes real. Up until now, you know it’s coming, but it doesn’t feel real. You’re talking about it and probably have been talking about it for quite a long time, and even longer, you’ve been thinking about it. But it doesn’t feel real until you receive your time slot (more to come) to apply for the permit.
The Pacific Crest Trail Association issues the long-distance permit which is considered a convenience permit. Obtaining this permit means you don’t need local permits as you travel up or down the trail.
Yesterday, I received the email containing my time slot at 1:51 pm. It was for 2:02:50 PM on the 14th. I didn’t think much of it other than, “Meh, not great, but it’ll be fine.” I had spent the last several years going through this process and had never had an issue getting a permit. But this year was different; I do have an exact date that I need. This is because I can maximize my insurance coverage before I need to cough up an incredible amount of money for COBRA. Anyway, no need to go into details on that. I need May 7th!
The clock turns to 2 PM; I log into the website, which displays the current and allotted times. I impatiently refresh the page and see the current time increasing by milliseconds. Soon, the website allowed me to proceed. It was precisely 2:02:50 PM. Adrenaline courses through my veins; I quickly navigate through the page and select the starting point. Then, I try selecting the exit point; I’m working fast and aggressively using the mouse scroll wheel. I’m too fast, the website glitches, and I must scroll through the list again. Urgh! This time, my selection holds, and I press Continue.
March displays with its plethora of available permits. I don’t want March, so I quickly press the right arrow. April now reveals all permits are taken. The red numbers glared in my face as if to say keep moving along. May finally displays, and much to my dismay, the earliest date I could get was May 17th. A full ten days AFTER I wanted to start. I quickly select it and move on.
I’m finished. My application is done, and I’m greeted with a friendly note from the PCTA telling me I should receive an email within 2-3 weeks.
I didn’t get the date I wanted, so I can’t put this particular task to bed until January or later. In January, another round of permits will be released. This time, only 15, compared to the 35 available today, will be up for grabs. If I cannot get my desired date after the January lottery, I will need to monitor the permit portal for cancellations and hope to get one.
So, the only thing left now is to continue training and work out my meal plan. Oh, and enjoy the holidays, of course.