The PCT in 2017: What Changed?
A lot changes along the 2650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail every year. Here are the updates I have come across.
Trail Reopenings, Closures, and Adjustments
Lake Fire and Powerhouse Fire Reopened
Some of the best news for the trail this year is that two of the closures from last year, the Lake Fire and Powerhouse Fire, have reopened. Yay! The caveat with the Lake fire is that camping is not allowed in the burn area which is approximately from mile 237.7 to mile 241.6. A small price for the open trail. The Powerhouse burn area from mile 478.2 to 493.4 is a full go. The PCTA wrote an interesting article on the work it took to reopen the trail.
Sand Fire Closure
With the good comes the bad. The Sand Fire South of Agua Dulce has the trail closed from Mount Gleason at 429.6 to Soledad Canyon Road at 444.3. HikerBot shows an alternative route going down The Moody Canyon Truck Trail at 431.9 to Soledad Canyon Road, but the map of the closure currently shows both the Moody Truck Trail and the segment of trail from 429.6 to 431.9 as closed. Use the alternate at your own risk. Guthooks does not show an alternate.
Mountain Fire Closure Shortened
Progress is being made. An additional four miles of the Mountain Fire closure from Cedar Spring Junction at 162.7 to Forbes Saddle at 166.6 has been reopened for 2017. Neither HikerBot or Guthooks show this update, though Halfmile have updated their unofficial alternate map.
Now required in Lassen Volcanic NP
Per the NPS “Overnight backcountry users must use a bear canister to store food and scented items. This regulation is in response to increased negative bear and human interactions in the park.” Lassen Volcanic National Park stretches from Mile 1343.8 just after Chester to 1363 before Old Station. This means spending $18 to send the bear cannister up to Chester or carrying the 2.5 pounds for another 326 miles after Sonora Pass. Personally, I would just carry the can as annoying as they are, but to each their own. Also, note that the Old Station Post Office is not open on weekends to send the bear cans home. There were reports on the PCT 2016 last year of a bear stealing packs at Lower Twin Lake, mile 1355.1 and this news article. Unfortunately, this is a necessary regulation.
Reservations are no longer needed in Jefferson Park
Camping is still limited to the designated campsites within 250 feet of any lakes and is limited to the non-vegetated ground outside 250 feet. But of course, following LNT principals you weren’t going to camp in the middle of a meadow anyway.
Camping Restrictions Updated for Lassen Volcanic NP
The restriction starts a 1/4 mile before Boiling Springs Lake and runs for 4 miles to approximately the Kelly Camp Trail and also includes restrictions on camping within a 1/4 mile of Terminal Geyser or Little Willow Lake. The Restrictions are no camping
- Within 1/2 mile of any developed area or park road open to vehicular traffic, except in designated campgrounds.
- Within 1/4 mile of any hydrothermal feature
Trail Angel information
Lake of the Sky Outfitters in South Lake Tahoe, the defacto hiker headquarters, is closed.
Ziggy and the Bear’s Whitewater Trail House has Closed.
I heard reports on PCT Facebook groups that Hikertown at 518.5 was shutting down as well, but the As the Crow Flies town guide has confirmed they will be open again in 2017.
Other trail tidbits
Road Damage in the Sierra
Horseshoe Meadow road damaged. The timetable for repair is unknown. Pay attention to this closure if you plan on exiting the trail via Trail Pass or Cottonwood Pass to Lone Pine as this is the road that goes into town.
Whitney Portal Road blocked by a rockfall. Appears all set to be cleaned up and open by May 1st. Well before the time hikers come thru.
ADZPCTKO the Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off which had run from 1999 to 2015 is no longer. The event was not held last year but had planned on coming back this year. Those plans changed. While the organizers and many others will make an appearance at Lake Morena this year the nature of the trail has changed since 1999. This year for two straight months from March 24th to May 24th at least 49 of the 50 permits have been issued. That doesn’t leave much room for a one-weekend event without people bubbling up.
In contrast, PCT Days in Cascade Locks is still going strong. It will be held from August 18-20 this year.
Other Information on the Trail Route
Endangered species closure is unchanged, but a study is in progress that may result in a bridge being built in the future and the trail reopened year round for PCT traffic.
Work is ongoing on realigning the trail through the Sierra Buttes just outside of Sierra City and it was just announced in the Spring Pacific Crest Trail Communicator that a realignment from Santiam Pass to Park Ridge in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness will begin this year. Presumably, the immense project to pull the trail off of the aqueduct and into the Tehachapi Mountains is still making progress but the latest news I could find of it was in 2014.
There have been reports that the “CopperTone is Here” plate “might” be visible along the trail around Snowy Creek, PCT mile 207 on Sunday afternoon, May 14th. Reports of previous sightings lead some to believe that it ‘could’ be visible until late afternoon on Saturday, but there are indications that it ‘may’ reappear again on Sunday afternoon the 21st, at Highway 173, mile 314. Supposedly this pattern repeats itself for a total of 4 or 5 weeks on odd numbered years, but strangely it can happen for months on even numbered years. Rumor has it that this is a sign worth watching for!
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