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[pct-l] border troubles, north-south hike

FYI - last week my Dad was out riding the trail out of Cibbets (sp?) Flat
campground (between Boulder Oaks and Mt. Laguna).  He was approached by
illegals who asked him and his riding companion for water and directions to
San Diego, which he willingly gave.  They "thanked" him by breaking a window
of his pickup and stealing his cell phone.  (Sigh.)  Of course, not everyone
you meet will be like that, but like Charlie said, we're talking fairly
desperate people here.  Please exercise due caution out there... 'nuff said.

About doing the trail north to south, the biggest problem (as you probably
know) is that it can get tricky in the Sierra.  You usually have to wait
until at least mid-June but more usually late June or early July before you
can leave Manning Park, which gets you into the highest part of the trail in
September or October, which is a pretty "iffy" time up there.  An early
winter storm can put you in some serious trouble.  It really depends on the
year, how fast a hiker you are and how prepared you are for anything.  '95
was a good year for it because we had a very late winter.  Peter and Debbie
and Jane and Flicka were able to enjoy some pretty decent weather in the
Sierra and miss most of the snow that all the northbounders had struggled
through until August.  '96, however, had some pretty significant snowfall
early, which kept the guys who were attempting the yo-yo from being able to
finish, but some other folks did make it southbound.  There's also a good
chance that the desert will be drier in the fall than in the spring, but
again, there are no guarantees.  It's usually not quite as pretty, with less
desert flowers to perk up the landscape.  I've also heard that some places
just aren't as well marked for southbounders, although there are plenty of
confusing and poorly marked places no matter what direction you're headed.
 (I haven't done it myself, I just used to work at the PCTA office and heard
all the reports hikers called in.)  

No matter what direction you're going, please, please call in to the PCTA
office (it's a toll-free call) and report the trail conditions.  That way
they can pass on any important information to other trail users, and you can
get the reports they've made of what's ahead for you.  It can save you and
others a lot of trouble and it can help the PCTA and the Forest Service know
where trail work is most needed.  

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