Last Monday was permit day. The night before I barely slept, constantly waking up to check the PCTA page to check if they had opened up the application process. I knew it wouldn’t be open, but the nagging feeling that I’d somehow miss it was insane.
Throughout the day I’d check periodically and watch all the other hikers simultaneously lose their minds (myself included) as the hours passed. The constant refreshing crashed the permit page, which led to more chaos and panic. But finally, it opened. Hands trembling, I dedicated to my start date and applied, quickly glancing over my details a few times to make sure everything was accurate. I hit submit, and it was done. My date was reserved.
As the day progressed, the days were filling up quick. Before we knew it, April was entirely gone in around 10 hours. It was a dramatic shift of perspective on just how many people want to attempt this, but I have questions that will remain unanswered: How many are thru-hikers? How many will show up? How many will make it through the desert?
No matter, my date was set, and I was elated. April 15th, here we come.
And today I finally made the perilous trip to the DMV, and oh was it ever. I arrived 15 minutes after they opened, and scored the last parking spot. I walked in and couldn’t even find where the line began to check in. I looked over heads and found that it wrapped around the back of the facility, slumped, and dragged my feet to the back. The line went by fast enough fortunately, and I was at the desk happily announcing that I was applying for an Enhanced Drivers License before I knew it. The process went smoothly, and then I got my number. E931.. I sat down and lost hope when they announced that they were ready to help E902.
I sat in my sad little chair for eternity, and as the day progressed, more people were pouring in. A weird thing happens to me in situations like this: In crowded and loud environments, voices start to echo, the view from my peripherals softens, and my heart rate increases. Or I could just put it plainly and say crowds make me an anxious wreck. I made sure I sat on the outside of the aisles of chairs to make sure I could run out screaming if I needed to.
I pulled out my phone and looked at trail pictures for a while, and they finally called my number. I was helped for ten minutes, then was directed to wait yet again while they processed paperwork. Defeated again, I went back to my throne of anxiety and waited, foot tapping. This time I just stared at one of the screens displaying which number was being serviced, trying to will my number onto the monitor. Finally I was called once again, and the process was finalized. I was instructed to sit back down and wait for my name to be called so they could take my photo for my EDL (Enhanced Drivers License). This wait lasted five minutes, and before I knew it I was standing in front of the camera. The flash made me blink, so they had to take a further two pictures to get it right. The comedic relief was nice.
As soon as my temporary EDL was printed, I got the absolute hell out of there. I could have danced back to my car, waving it in the air screaming “I’m going to Canada!“. In two weeks my permanent EDL should come in the mail, then I get to apply for entry into Canada, and I will be done. I love the fact that I don’t have the DMV looming over my head anymore. All in all, it was a four hour ordeal.
*An Enhanced Drivers License is provided by the state of Washington (and a few other states I think?) that allows travel to/from Canada without a passport. I’m using this in lieu of getting a passport because I don’t have the time or funds to go through that process. One day…