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[CDT-L] CDT: Universal Permit

For those unfamiliar with the PCT, the PCTA issues a universal permit valid 
for the duration of a thru-hike or section hike. This permit is free to PCTA 
memebers (last I heard). What's great about it is that it eliminates the 
hassle of writing countless letters to the various National Parks and other 
agencies that require a permit to travel in certain areas (I had to do this 
in 96 before the system was complete). Also, since you're on foot and can't 
predict exactly when you'll reach Mt. Whitney or Lassen Park etc. from the 
Mexican Border it eliminates the hassle of making deadlines or attempting to 
predict when you'll be there. In my oppinion it's a wonderful system and an 
excelent service the PCTA offers to distance hikers.

Last month I addressed this issue with the National Parks along the CDT. 
Unanimously they all declined to participate for various reasons inluding: 
"it's been our experience that not all CDT "through-hikers" have paid 
adequate attention to low impact camping practices and therefore, may 
benefit from the information provided as part of our permit process." 
Clearly this is an unsubstantiated claim. Also, based on some information I 
read recently regarding their low-impact camping practices, I find it 
disturbing that they advocate the use of soap in the backcountry. In all my 
years of hiking I've never met a thru-hiker who uses soap. It's extra 
weight, not to mention contaminates water sources - biodegradable or not.

Another response I received stated their permit system has been in place for 
over 30 years in addition to claiming it is recognized as one of the best in 
the country. Says who?

The friendlies response I received was from Yellowstone NP. While still a 
National Park, the rangers there have addressed the reality of long-distance 
hikers and typically go out of their way to accomodate us - even issuing 
permits over the phone and encouraging hikers to call from Macks Inn or 
Togwotee Lodge. Despite the flexibility they've exhibited towards 
thru-hikers, I was surprised they declined to participate in a univeral 
permit system.

Now, what I want to know is this: Why do the National Parks on the AT, the 
Smokies (the most visited NP in the US) and Shenandoah for instance, have 
self registration permits that are free and easy to obtain. No phone calls, 
no letters, no hassles. Also, what about all the NP's that participate in 
the universal permit system established by PCTA? Why should the NP's along 
the CDT be any different, afterall it's a reality they'll have to face 
sooner or later?
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