170610 – The reality of hiking following record winter snows begins to sink in

Day:  048

Date:  Saturday, 10 June 2017

Start:  Camped by the trail at Mile 759.5, 9820 ft

Finish:   Camped by the trail at Wallace Creek at Mile 770.3, 10397 ft

Daily Miles:  10.8 PCT

Total PCT Miles:  770.3

Weather:  Mild and sunny

Accommodation:  Tent 


     Breakfast:  Muesli

     Lunch:  Gorp

     Dinner:  Rehydrated chicken teriyaki with rice and vegetables

Aches:  Exhausted

Highlight:  The two major creek crossings will be remembered for a long time.  Both involved walking/crawling across a log suspended over the rushing creeks.  The first was two metres above a raging torrent and my heart was in my mouth the whole way, especially as I was being watched by five other much younger hikers who had just made it across.  The second was closer to the water’s surface, but was on a steep angle.  The girl from the morning’s crossing slipped and half fell in while negotiating the log, but saved herself from being sucked under amid much consternation.

Lowlight:  A lot of the cross-country snow travel was physically, technically and navigationally demanding and quite stressful, not to mention the creek crossings.  I did wonder several times whether I should come back to do the second part of the High Sierras, when the travel is easier.  I’ll make a decision in a couple of days time when I reach Independence.

Pictures:  Click here

Position:  Click here 

Map:  Click here for Google Map


Knowing I had a creek to ford in a mile’s distance, I spent time waterproofing everything that needed to stay dry before I left at 7:00am.  When I reached the creek a group of five hikers was camped there, some of them obviously experienced climbers, and they pointed out a log across the river near their camp which they thought the most likely crossing point.  I had a look, but wasn’t keen.  It was high above the water and had some branches sticking out at awkward places.  I said I would try downstream a little where the trail reached the creek, and decided I might be able to walk across, though it was flowing very fast.  I changed into my sneakers, and tried first without my pack and using my trekking poles.  It was too powerful (and extremely cold), and I couldn’t get anywhere the middle, so abandoned my attempt.  I looked for a few other possible spots but none was viable, so I returned to the hiker group who were very leisurely breakfasting and packing up and said I would join them on the log crossing.  By the time we got across it was nearly 10:00am, so I had lost a large part of my day.

The hiking then involved a strenuous climb over Guyot Pass and then a snowy descent on the northern side.  Very slow going, and that was the way it went for the rest of the day.  Occasional clear sections of trail, but mostly partly or completely covered by snow.  It was also often steep and I again fell many times.  The worst section was the final hour descending a very steep snow-covered and forested slope.  I was with a couple of other hikers and even with crampons on, we had a few scary slips.  This part of the PCT, at this time, with this amount of snow, is not for the unfit or faint-hearted, and I’m not sure I qualify.  At best borderline.  I don’t have the balance and skills of the younger ones who seem happy to ski down many of the shorter slopes on their boots with heavy packs.  Nevertheless, I’m gaining experience and know I will look back and be glad I persevered.

Of course, it’s not all about the rigours of snow travel.  The scenery was again picture postcard perfect, and I’m lucky to see it in these conditions.

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