I’m planning to start the CF the beginning of the 2nd week of December. I read it is mandatory to take the alternative winter route! I understand why but winter doesn’t officially begin till December 21. So, when does it become mandatory/winter? I’m experienced in winter hiking/camping and hiked the Appalachian trail twice and lived 10 years on the Canadian border, so I’m capable and won’t need someone to come rescue me. I don’t expect anything to be open before Roncevaille and can easily carry enough supplies to last 4 or 5 days.