A Warning To Southbound PCT Hikers

I received a letter yesterday from the Forest Service asking me to consider including the following notice on my PCT maps:

“Notice to Hikers and Equestrians traveling southbound from Manning Provincial Park Canada:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) determined that there is no legal southbound entry into the United States at the northern terminus of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. The Pacific Crest Trail Association and United States Forest Service have requested CBP to review the feasibility of providing a legal entry that ensures border security and facilitates travel. Visit the CBP website for more information on the requirements to legally enter the United States.”

The letter goes on to explain all the penalties for hiking south from Manning Park Canada into the US, which could include a year in jail and $5,000 fine.

Halfmile’s PCT Maps must have made the big time, for a government agency to recognize a lot of hikers are using them. I will be adding this information as I update my maps for 2011, because I want PCT hikers to have the best possible information. I just updated my California PCT maps for 2011, look for Oregon and Washington updates to be ready in January.

None of this is really new, although the growing number of warnings to southbound PCT hikers seems to suggest that the CBP may not ignore PCT hikers much longer. Last summer a number of newspapers ran stories about this, probably following news releases from the CBP.

In the past, southbound PCT hikers often ignored the fact that hiking the remote trail from Manning Park Canada into the US was not legal but I have never heard of a hiker encountering problems. This will probably change. If you do decide to make the southbound hike and risk the consequences, definitely don’t journal about your plans in advance. The area may be remote, but the CBP has the resources to ruin your hike when they decide to start enforcing this.

Northbound PCT hikers are not effected. Northbounders can still legally hike from the US to Manning Park Canada if they fill out this application:

Maybe the CBP, PCTA, and Forest Service can work something out, but I’m not holding my breath for 2011, especially considering the warning has just been added to the Forest Service and the PCTA web sites. The PCTA has a frequently asked questions .pdf document with more information.

It looks like southbounders will have to start at Harts Pass and hike north an extra 31 miles to Monument 78 at the border [but never actually crossing into Canada] then backtrack south or they could skip the northern 31 miles of the PCT. The 31 miles will be made more difficult because of the snow southbounders usually encounter.

The information sent to me also included this:
How do I submit a question, complaint or comment to Customs and Border Protection?
See the website: https://help.cbp.gov/app/ask
You may submit a question, complaint or comment to a Public Information Officer by clicking on the “Ask a Question” tab. First you will type in your email address and question. Then you must pick a topic, subtopic, customer group and subgroup. Finally, after you have typed your question, comment or complaint, click the “Submit Question” button (for complaints or comments, just select that topic from the list). Important note: your question has not been submitted yet, please continue. Next you need to click the “Create an Account” button. On the next screen click the “Finish Submitting Question” button. When your question is successfully submitted you will get a reference number. If this is an urgent matter, please contact us by phone.
If you would prefer speaking to a live person, you may call the CBP INFO Center and speak with a Public Information Officer at (703) 526-4200 or 1-877-CBP-5511 (227-5511).

I encourage everyone to comment to the CBP.