170508 – Snowy landscapes

Day:  015
Date: Monday, 08 May 2017
Start:  Mission Creek Trail Campsite, Mile 239.9, 7928 ft
Finish:  Clearing by trail near Mile 261.2, 6782 ft
Daily Miles:  21.3 PCT
Total PCT Miles:  261.2
Weather:  Cold to cool all day and mostly sunny
Accommodation:  Tent in clearing by trail
     Breakfast: Muesli
     Lunch:  Gorp
     Dinner:  Rehydrated Chicken Fried Rice
Aches:  Old left ankle injury playing up a bit.
Highlight:  The first two hours of hiking in a snow-covered super quiet winter wonderland conifer forest, with occasional views of massive snow-covered peaks.
Lowlight:  Made a few minor annoying navigational errors which cost some time.
Pictures:  Click here

Map:  Click here for Google Map

It was a bitterly cold night and I had trouble getting to sleep until I sealed up my sleeping bag so tightly, I was cocooned.  I forced myself to get up at 5:30, knowing there was nothing to be gained by lying in bed.  The inside of the tent was covered with frozen condensation and the outside had snow on it.  There were about six other hikers camped in the area and none of us was enjoying the packing up, especially those of us without gloves.  It took longer than usual to pack everything, and I didn’t get underway until 7am.  My aim for the day was to hike about 20 miles, leaving just 6 miles to a highway crossing tomorrow, from where I will hitchhike to Big Bear Lake where I have two nights accommodation booked.

I was still wearing almost all of my clothes for the first two hours of hiking because it was so cold, but it was nice to be moving and the scenery was magical, with a couple of inches of fresh snow covering everything in the conifer forest.  Here and there were views of the rocky snow-covered peaks.  As usual, because I’m fresh for those first couple of hours, everything seems better.

After climbing to nearly 9000 ft, the trail mostly descended for the rest of the day, though there were still patches of fresh snow here and there all the way.  I found a sunny spot around 11:30 and took a longer break during which I unpacked my sleeping bag, tent and groundsheet to give them a chance to dry.  It only took 30 minutes.  I saw fewer hikers than usual during the day, mainly because so many did not continue when it started snowing last night, so were well behind me.  But there were a few familiar faces and we always now have a brief chat and discuss plans.

As the trail descended it followed the beautiful Arrastre Creek valley for a while where the path was covered in pine needles with occasional water springs beside the trail.  For the last hour or so the trail followed some low hills with evidence of civilisation in the valleys below.  My feet were over the day, especially when I had trouble finding somewhere to camp.  The temperature is forecast to drop below freezing tonight, so for the second time I will be sharing my sleeping bag with my water bottle and water filter so that they won’t be permanently damaged by freezing.

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