With the success of last year’s JMT trip – it’s time to plan this year’s major hike. I have two trails in mind – either the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier or a longer section of the PCT. Both of these will take a good deal of planning and have different challenges. Because both of these require limited availability permits, I always find it useful to have a plan A and a plan B. Additionally, natural challenges can cause a late change in plan as well. These two trips would be radically different and there are also some personal challenges that I’d need to work out. But let’s see what’s necessary for the basics of planning both these trips. So let’s see what the hiking plans for 2022 look like – Wonderland Trail or PCT?
A section hike on the PCT
The PCT is over 2600 miles. So there are plenty of opportunities to choose a section of the PCT and turn in a fairly long hike during the summer. Permits can be very hard to get – but typically these are harder from points south of the Sierra. Applying for a permit is actually very straightforward and there are two lottery periods one that starts in November and the other in January. It’s important to realize that the permit that the PCTA offer is a long-distance permit for hikes over 500 miles. It’s perfectly feasible to hike the PCT with local permits acquired from the local land management agencies. Indeed the most challenging permits for the PCT are in California and there are only a few quota permit areas outside of California.
To kick the hiking season off – I applied for a permit for Oregon and Washington. The process was simple and after a few weeks, this was approved. So at least from a permit perspective, this one is already in the bag!
From a planning, perspective resupply will be the big challenge with this hike – but as I live in Oregon the logistics are not that difficult. I might even consider taking Hunter along for a portion of the journey as there are no dog-prohibited areas and if necessary he can be picked up by my wife at some point along the trip.
The Wonderland Trail
The Wonderland Trail is a 93-mile trail around Mt. Rainier. I looked at doing this trail last year – but did not get a permit. This is a pretty competitive and a more complex permit process. Unlike the PCT process, which only required a start/end location and date, the Wonderland permit requires the full itinerary planned out. Of course, it’s a substantially shorter hike and I’d look at doing this in maybe 7-9 days. The advantage of this option is that Keenan could along as the last hike before he goes off to college.
For the Wonderland Trail there is an early access lottery. This is February 21 – March 7. Within this period you can just put your name into an early access lottery. This then just gives you a date and time that their individual access window opens, falling between March 21 and April 19. Within this second period is where you can actually make the reservation.
So this is the next step – apply for the early access lottery and depending on the result, I’ll be able to plan more.
While waiting for the lottery results – here is an excellent Wonderland Trail trip planner.