Day 59: It Gets Better

June 15, 2017

Total daily miles: 17.5 miles

Total PCT miles: 834.7 miles

Start: West Branch of Beartrap Creek (mile 1224.1)

End: mile 1241.6

Total elevation gain/loss: 3001.6/3971.1 ft

Finally a good hiking day!  It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve walked this far (or seen this much dry trail).  I’ll take it!

We awoke to a dry tent (score!) and another deer sighting.  This time the deers stayed further away, although I suspect that they invaded our camp site as soon as we’d walked off.

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June 13, 2017

Total daily miles: 11.2 miles

Total PCT miles: 806.7 miles

Start: mile 1202.4

End: mile 1213.6

Total elevation gain/loss: 1605.3/1683.7 ft

We awoke to clear skies and frozen condensation in our tent.  Also a puddle in the downhill corner.  I guess that’s what two wet nights get us.  Putting our tent away was a real chore given the cold morning temperatures — both of us ended up with freezing cold fingers that we had to warm up before setting out.

The PCT trail sign barely peeking above the snow line.

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Day 57: Slow Going in Soft Snow

Day 56: Winter Wonderland Out Of Sierra City (Or Not)

June 12, 2017

Total daily miles: 7.0 miles

Total PCT miles: 795.5 miles

Start: Sierra City (mile 1195.4)

End: mile 1202.4

Total elevation gain/loss: 2788.7/436.7 ft

Today’s a great example of the PCT showing who’s boss. Short answer: the PCT.

For the first time in the PCT, I slept through our alarm this morning. My guess is that it’s because I still had the headphones plugged into my phone and so it didn’t vibrate. Even after realizing what had happened, we continued to snooze until 6am. It’s hard to be motivated to get out of the tent when we can hear raindrops dripping onto our tent. It had been raining lightly off and on all night.

Finally we bit the bullet and packed up our stuff. Last night’s weather report showed rain until 4pm today, so waiting wasn’t going to help anything (and we didn’t want to take another zero). Turns out that the raindrops were mainly from the tree that we were camped beneath, outside we were greeted by a heavy fog.

The PCT passes about a mile and a half from Sierra City, so we started heading up the road. Not long after, a truck pulled over and asked if we’d like a ride to the trailhead. Yes, we’d love one! Our ride was from a former PCT thru-hiker and he gave us the scope on what to expect in the coming sections.

We could see the snow from the trailhead…

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Day 55: Hitching to Sierra City

June 11, 2017

Considering how little experience we had with hitchhiking prior to starting the PCT, today’s goal was a big one: hitchhike over 400 miles from Bishop to Sierra City.

After breakfast, we headed to the north end of town and stuck out our thumbs. Lots of cars passed. Michael got to work on making our Tyvek ground sheet into a sign that read “PCT Hikers” in the hope that would attract more interest. Before he could finish the sign, a woman pulled over and we had our first ride! She was only going to Mammoth, but that would at least get us going.

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Days 53 & 54: Decision Time

Our plan to spend a single zero in Bishop morphed into two zeros. I guess we should know by now that the PCT doesn’t care about your plans. Like our plan to continue back up from Kearsarge Pass to Mammoth.  

As I mentioned before, the reports of the stream crossings in that section are not encouraging. In fact, they’re downright scary. Even worse are the reports of the crossings north of Tuolumne. It’s likely that water levels will only rise in the next couple of weeks. After a couple days of cool weather coming up (including more snow…), it looks like things will be significantly warming up. That’s great for getting rid of the high snow levels, but not so good for stream crossings.

Baked goods from Schat’s Bakery obviously were necessary in our decisionmaking process.

Except it meant that we had to decide what to get 😦

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Day 51: Ice Chute Challenge

June 7, 2017

Total miles: 13.6 miles

Start: mile 775.7

End: 0.8 miles down Bullfrog Lake trail (mile 788.5)

Total elevation gain/loss: 2948.2/3695.2 ft

Today was the day — we’d be crossing Forrester Pass!  People have been talking about this moment for weeks now and we’d soon have it (hopefully) behind us!

I slept surprisingly well last night given my anticipation about today’s climb. A win for Advil PM! We were up and ready to hike at 4am sharp. Sam and Tam needed a few more minutes, so we set off across the ice field knowing that they would catch up before the pass.  

Navigating in the dark on a sun-cup filled ice field turned out to be a little trickier than I imagined. After a while we found ourselves a bit off trail. Luckily, course correction wasn’t difficult and we were on our way again.  

As expected, Sam and Tam caught up with us just as the morning light was making our headlamps unnecessary. The progression of the morning light on the surrounding mountains was riveting:

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Day 50: Creek Crossing 101

June 6, 2017

Total miles: 6.8 miles

Start: mile 768.9

End: mile 775.7

Total elevation gain/loss: 1559.1/1126.3 ft

The stats simply don’t convey what a difficult day today’s hiking was. I could pound out that distance in no time in the desert. Here though, that’s a different matter.

We slept in a bit (until 4:30!) because it was cold and we didn’t want to hit our first river crossing of the day too early. Also, we figured we were in for an easy day, so why push it? Silly us.

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Day 49: Back In Familiar Territory

June 5, 2017

Total miles: 10.7 miles

Start: mile 758.2

End: mile 768.9

Total elevation gain/loss: 2589.6/2066.9 ft

I wondered as we started hiking today whether we should have continued on yesterday. Was I making something out of nothing? But we pretty quickly hit a steep, snow covered downhill section and I was happy with my decision. With the firm snow and my microspikes, I was able to make easy work of what would have likely been a frustrating descent yesterday.

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Day 48: We Found The Snow

June 4, 2017

Total miles: 11.2 miles

Start: mile 747.0

End: mile 758.2

Total elevation gain/loss: 1239.5/1551.2 ft

What a difference a cold night makes on snow conditions! We were up early this morning (4am alarm… but hit snooze a couple times) and greeted by frozen condensation in our tent. By the time we were up and walking, the snow was firm. I’m loving my microspikes! It make walking on the firm snow super easy!

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