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owmyknees
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owmyknees
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PostMon Jan 01, 2018 12:02 pm 
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I'm thinking about hiking the Washington sections of the PCT this summer.

I'm trying to decide which dates I would like to do it.  I would prefer not to hit the thru hiking rush which seems to happen towards the end of August through late Sept.  I was along the PCT in the GPW this Sept and saw dozens of people walk by.  Not my ideal, really.

Therefore, I was thinking of starting in early July.  However, I would also like to do some other traveling this summer and July/August would seem ideal for that.

If anyone has any advice on dates or plans, or how to make this the most enjoyable, I could use some inspiration!
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RandyHiker
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PostMon Jan 01, 2018 12:45 pm 
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You'll encounter snow on the route in July.   The "knife edge" in the Goat Rocks is the highest elevation section in WA,  approx 7000ft elevation.

Heading north of Snoqualmie there may also be steep snow sections in July.
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RumiDude
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RumiDude
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PostMon Jan 01, 2018 2:14 pm 
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I have hiked Section J, Stevens to Snoqualmie, in the first part of July and there wasn't too much snow, but the snow pack of the previous winter was not excessive. It just depends on snow pack and spring temperatures/weather which determines how late significant snow remains on the trail.

If you want to avoid the herd of PCT thru-hikers, you are going to need to start the first week of August. Even then some of the fast thru-hikers will there as well as plenty of section hikers.

Rumi

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Adohrn
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Adohrn
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PostTue Jan 02, 2018 2:27 am 
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July=snow most years in section H between the Columbia and white pass.  The 2 specific problem areas will be Indian Heaven area near trout lake and the Knifes edge in goat rocks.  With snow both areas have significant exposure, and should be considered dangerous. You will need an ice axe and some form of traction with the ability to use them.  I had to skip the Indian heaven area last year ,because a fire started basically right on the Pct.  Hit it early and theres a good chance nothing will have been cleared. 

Section I between white pass and Stevens.  Of all the Wa sections this one should melt out first.  There was a major fire just north of Chinock pass last year (Chinock is located 30 miles north of white pass).  At one point they closed the entire 100 mile section because of the fire. Again hit it early and nothing will be cleared.

The Pct is a great trail and a social experience.  If you want solitude look elsewhere.   Depending on your mileage per day you potentially will need a large head start to beat the herd.  The idea of an early July start with lots of post holeing/route finding and a heavy pack resulting from the slower pace, non trail hardened legs, with distances of 70-100 miles between resupply doesn’t appeal to me though.
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Token Civilian
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PostTue Jan 02, 2018 6:55 am 
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To meet your criteria of a lesser crowded trail, I'd suggest a late July / early August start (assuming normal snow & spring melt) down at the Bridge of the Gods.  That will put you ahead of much of the thru hiker crowd.  That would allow a finish in the late August / early September time frame up in Manning Park.

Note that you WILL have thrus, even at that time....just less than otherwise.

Note that at any time the PCT is hikable, there are lots of day and section hikers.  Snoqualmie to Stevens is justifiably popular throughout the summer and expect insane crowds of overnighters up to Ridge and Gravel Lake on any sunny weekend.

As for the Chinook to Snoqualmie Section - the Norse Peak Fire has that part (strictly, from a point north of Chinook to Govt Meadows) currently closed.  Its unknown when it will reopen since that depends on what Winter does to the area.  Note that it will be a focus area of the trail crews, but you should tentatively plan to hitch around from Chinook to Snoqualmie or to Govt Meadows.
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InFlight
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InFlight
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PostTue Jan 02, 2018 10:31 am 
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The PCT can be quite crowded on August weekends, and desirable lake/river campsites doubly so.  You will run into other hikers and horses during the week, but it's not stupid busy.

If your prepared to dry-camp, and even use a hammock (& rain fly), you will have many more uncrowded overnight options available to you.  It will also allow you to hike as far as you want on any given day without worrying about reaching or stopping early at particular certain campsite.

Others have pointed out last years Norse Creek fire.

If you start south at Cascade Locks, think about adding the Eagle creek section in Oregon.

Finally we normally have all sorts of fire restrictions by August, so I'd suggest using a canister stove.

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olderthanIusedtobe
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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostTue Jan 02, 2018 1:17 pm 
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Per the above suggestion, Eagle Creek is beautiful, but it also suffered a major wildfire last year and the status for it reopening is unknown at this time.
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owmyknees
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owmyknees
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PostTue Jan 02, 2018 2:12 pm 
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Thanks for the tips, folks.

I suppose I will plan to start in early August and keep an eye on the melt off for a possible earlier start.

Hadn't thought that maybe the Norse Peak fire area would be closed next summer but I guess it is a possibility.

People on the trail don't bother me and I don't need solitude, it's just this summer I saw dozens of people (no exaggeration) the weekend I was up in the GPW!   But I understand that it cannot be avoided entirely.
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texasbb
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texasbb
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PostTue Jan 02, 2018 2:49 pm 
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olderthanIusedtobe wrote:
Per the above suggestion, Eagle Creek is beautiful, but it also suffered a major wildfire last year and the status for it reopening is unknown at this time.

Mostly unknown, but maybe not completely.  There's a current closure order that extends through September 25, 2018, "or until rescinded."  Since the Eagle Creek area was hit hard and opening it would put a LOT of unskilled hikers into the potential slide areas, I'm not holding any hope for an early opening.  Hopefully I'll be wrong.
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Token Civilian
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Token Civilian
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PostWed Jan 03, 2018 1:01 pm 
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owmyknees wrote:
it's just this summer I saw dozens of people (no exaggeration) the weekend I was up in the GPW!

Expect that near about any weekend with half way decent weather within 10 miles of a decent access point.

You will get a lot more solitude once you're more than 10 miles in, regardless of weekend status.
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HikerchickRN
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HikerchickRN
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PostSat Jan 06, 2018 3:43 am 
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I have done it at the end of July and end of Aug. End of July was much better. More water, more flowers, less people. Have fun it's amazing
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