The graph above represents the thru-hikers (people hiking 500 miles or more) who are now required to get a permit at the start of the PCT. The quota is fifty people per day; the total number of permits possible to give out is 4600. On our start date it looks like 18 people have already gotten a permit, and that doesn't include section hikers like ourselves. (My mileage may total 500 on the pct this year--besides this 110 mile section, I hope to hike 256 miles in the northern Sierras and possibly some Oregon September hiking).
Eighteen people?! I don't even like hiking around eight people. Yes, I am spoiled. But glad we are going early! Look at those late April dates! Where will everyone camp? Will there be enough water sources? Where will everyone poop? Is this many people in the desert even sustainable?
Most of our camps will be dry ones. There is one 30 mile water carry already that we have heard of. It will be hot. There is already a search underway for someone who is missing in the general vicinity of where our hike will be ending. It's easy to underestimate the desert.
Planning has been pretty minimal; it's only 110 miles. We're hiking to Warner Springs and getting a shuttle back to San Diego there. I know both of us will want to keep going but, well, jobs. We've mapped out a pretty sane schedule which includes a 20 mile day but some shorter ones, and if we get done early we'll just hang out on the beach in San Diego.
Flash has hiked in the California desert before; I haven't. My only experience with it was on a soul-destroying wildfire near Cabazon. Under lockdown because of gangs, we slept in a city park while locals slowly drove around the perimeter. An inmate crew got burned over. A helicopter crashed in power lines. My crew, out of shape and lazy, sat down on the hills. One guy had to be evacuated because he was stung by so many wasps. It, my friends, was not a good time.
But this will be. Flash and I have dealt with many things over our PCT tenure: golf-ball sized hail, torrential rains of the century, cutthroat campsite competition, river crossings, and a family playing a cello late into the night. We can do this!