PCT – Permits

Hello everyone.  It has been a while.  My semi-regular posting schedule has been much more semi than regular lately.

Things are rolling quickly.  In just over a month we hand the keys to the house back and we’re effectively homeless.

Not long after that, we’re walking.

Did you catch that? In just over a month…

I’ll let that sink in.

Mostly for us.


A trek like this isn’t possible without permits.  We cross a lot of public land that is protected for one reason or another, not to mention several National Forests and National Parks.  Each requires a permit.

PCT:  For the purposes of a long-distance hike on the PCT that is longer than 500 miles, the PCTA manages an interagency permit system that covers the myriad permits along the way.  That’s much easier and more efficient than  trying to coordinate with all of the different agencies.

Especially to summit Mount Whitney.

Due to the increasing popularity of the trail, they’ve had to institute a 50-hiker/day start schedule.  That move caused a lot of consternation amongst many hikers, folks who by their very nature are easy-going and just go with the flow.  The new quota meant that we hikers had to pick a date and stick to it.  For those that didn’t jump on the registration site right after it opened, their preferred date might not have been available.

That’s a bit problematic for folks that had already bought airline tickets.  The system is even getting press in The Smithsonian.

But it’s working out.  After the initial consternation, most folks are realizing that the system is the only way to minimize impact on the trail.  Our start date is already full, at the beginning of a stretch of two weeks where every day is fully permitted.  So we’ll see a lot of folks on the trail in those first few weeks.

Campfire: Since we’ll be camping mostly outside of established campgrounds in California, we are required to obtain a campfire permit.  It’s a simple system consisting of watching/reading a short fire prevention presentation, then taking a test.  A successful test completion means a permit.  Done.

Canada: Yep, we need a permit for Canada.  Why?  The final 9-mile stretch of the trail is in British Columbia, finishing in Manning Park.  But there isn’t an official border crossing there, so they need to know we are coming.  Plus, we need the official stamps to show that we aren’t in Canada illegally.

That makes sense.  Otherwise, I might take away someone else’s job at a Tim Hortons.*

Mind you, we don’t have to go into Canada to complete the PCT.  We could stop at the monument right at the US/Canadian border, take our pics and not enter Canada.  But that means a 30-mile hike back to the first US town south.

Since we don’t have anything keeping us from entering Canada (e.g., criminal record), we’re going to keep walking.

The added advantage of going into Canada is that a very good friend lives nearby.  It will be good to finally meet him on his home turf, as we’ve only been able to get together in Germany and here in the US.

That’s it for permits.  It doesn’t seem like much, but the PCT and Canada permits add a bit of stress to the process, as they don’t open for application until so late in the planning.  But it has worked out.  We’re fully permitted.

*Tim Hortons – my only experience with a Tim Hortons has been their furthest east franchise, a lovely garden spot known as Kandahar, Afghanistan.  I must say that they make a fine doughnut.  Hopefully I can get another one at the end of the hike and see if it tastes just as good.



It has been quiet around these parts for the past week or so.

Usually I apologize for that, but this time I don’t think that I will, even though I do appreciate my loyal readers.

I really do.

So where was the focus?  My new web site, of which this blog is a part.  Some of you might have even noticed some changes here.

It’s all part of taking my photography a bit more seriously, including delving more into portraiture.

Photo Logo

So please click on the image above (which takes you to http://billandersphoto.com), take a look around, kick the tires and leave a comment.  Perhaps buy a print or three.

I even dropped the prices 25% to mark the occasion.


Just click on that coupon and a new window will open.  Browse and pick to your heart’s content, then enter that code upon checkout.  And you’ll be in like Flynn.

If you had browsed my galleries before and think you have seen it all, please look again, especially in the Travel section of my Portfolio.  There are new photos in there.  And quite a few images that I have reworked for one reason or another.

So you might find something different.

As always, thank you for taking the time to stop by my littler corner of the sphere.


Just a random image.

Actually, one that has bugged me for the 18 months since I took it.  Mainly because the processing never got the colors right.

And I did not want to take the “easy” way out and go B&W.  Even though making it right in B&W would take a significant amount of time; not exactly easy.  But with the help of the new processing available in Lightroom 4 (and Photoshop CS 6), I was able to keep it looking natural while giving it the detail it deserved.

This is a dust devil crossing through an Afghani village south of Kabul.  North of Ghazni.

Although it could be Ghazni.

Viewed from 18,000′ (5,500m) above sea level, or about 6,000′ (2,000m) above ground level, from the cockpit of a C-130.


For those of you wondering, PO (click the link, then search for Table 4678) is the World Meteorological Organization code for dust devil.


Bellagio Point

Just two minutes later, as the ferry approached the dock, here’s the view towards the north, opposite yesterday’s post.

This one has perhaps a bit more depth.

OK, actually a lot more, extending all the way to the snow-blanketed mountains in the distance.

That makes it Goddess’ favorite of the two.

Bellagio Point

Bellagio Point

Which one is yours?


Curtain Call

Time to blow the dust off this joint.  Time to pull back the curtain and expose some light.

Lots of photos in the queue from the past six months.  Not as many as I had originally hoped from my tour in Afghanistan, but a few will find there way here from time to time.

I’ve been home with Goddess for the past three weeks.  Almost all of that time has been focused on her, as it should be.  I did take a week to head off for a professional development course in the Alps, but otherwise it’s been all her.  As it should be.

Slowly you’ll be able to figure out at least some of our travels together as we continue our quest to eat and drink our way across Europe.

Arena di Verona.  Verona, Italy.


All Better

Simple things can give the perfect lift.

BooBooMmmm, lasagna.


Thumb Loops

When you’ve got large over the shoulder harnesses, sometimes it’s easier to grab with your thumbs…

Thumb Loops


Negative Ghostrider

the pattern is full.

Negative Ghostrider

Some days you’ve got to wait.



Yep, I’ve been bad here.  Been busy though.

Here’s a common view for me, although it’s not my office. 

Nose Up

Nope, I’m not flying.  Although I’ve been doing a lot of flying.  Typically in the cockpit of a C-130 (pictured here), looking over the pilot’s shoulder.

Enjoying all of the scenery that Afghanistan has to offer.  And there is plenty!

It’s certainly interesting to be flying along at 18,000’ and having to look up at mountain peaks.

I’ll work on getting more pics out here, but hopefully you’ll understand.

I’ve been busy.