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PCT 'Crest Runner' Patrol Begins

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Around this time of the year, a few hundred hikers begin their 2,650-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. Most of them begin from the southernmost point of the trail on the Mexico border and head north towards the Canada border. It generally takes six to eight months to complete the entire trek.

It is, without a doubt, one of the most brutal hikes around; only around 60% of hikers who start the hike actually complete it. But it's popular enough that nearly 600 to 700 hikers attempt it every year. Those are high numbers for a trail. (And that doesn't count the folks that use sections of the PCT for day hikes.) Well, a new program by the U.S. Forest Service is trying to lessen the wear-and-tear associated with heavy use.

Ladies and gentlemen, the "Crest Runners."

Starting this year, a pair of "Leave No Trace" specialists will patrol the southernmost 100 miles of the PCT, from the Mexico border to Warner Springs, California. They will be on the trail during peak visitor use times, monitoring how campsites are being impacted, as well as keeping an eye on water sources and riparian areas. (It's a pilot program, so whether or not it happens next year depends on how this year goes.) They'll also "provide information about minimizing the affects of travel and camping and proper techniques for washing dishes, gathering water and safely using fire."

The goal of the program is to improve "trail experiences for hikers, horseback riders and volunteers." They'll be out and about until mid-July.

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