Today, at 10:27AM Pacific Time (UTC -8) I was sitting in front of three computers, with a total of 6 web browsers open, each logged into the Pacific Crest Trail Association website under a different email address. There I sat watching the countdown timer tick off the seconds until 10:30. It was at that time that the site began accepting applications for permits to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2022. The class of 2022 was about to be named.
It is essentially a lottery and you need to be logged into the site at exactly 10:30AM at which time you will be assigned a random position in the queue to submit your application. If you log in even 1 second after 10:30AM, you are placed at the bottom of the queue, and your chances of getting a permit go down considerably.
Once you get into the queue, you might have to wait hours for your turn to apply. They only allow a few to fill out applications at one time. And since they only issue 3220 permits (35 per day for March 1- May 31), being way down in the queue means there is a very good chance that you do not get the start date you prefer, and perhaps you don’t get a permit at all. With my 6 browsers open, I was lucky. Four of them showed a low position in the queue with a very long expected wait time. I eventually closed them because one of my browsers showed only about a 70 minute estimated wait time and I eventually got in at about 11:40AM. Even getting in so quickly, my preferred start date already had 25 of the 35 spots filled for that day. And the rules are clear. If you don’t start on the date shown on your permit, your permit is invalidated. But hey…I GOT MY DATE! So, at sunrise (my choice) on April 19th, I will be starting the 2660 mile (4281km) hike from the US-Mexico border to the US-Canada border.