Day 86: Snow Bowl Danger or Hype?

July 12, 2017

Total daily miles: 26.5 miles

Total PCT miles: 1232.3

Start: mile 1612.6

End: mile 1639.2

Total elevation gain/loss: 4131.6/7419.3 ft

Today started out with a stretch of snow that we’d been hearing hype about for weeks. We’d heard that there was a large “bowl” that we had to traverse, although people had different opinions as to how difficult it would be. Would it live up to the hype? Would we be glad to have kept our microspikes and whippets since Chester? Not really…


The “bowl” ended up being pretty easy to walk straight up. Yes, we’d put on our spikes, but that was mainly because we were expecting it to be a lot worse. Perhaps what made the bowl unintimidating was that the fallout wasn’t dangerous at all. It would have been a fun glissade with an easy stop. Coming out of the bowl, we did use a bit of gps because the trail’s switchbacks were covered in snow, but we soon found ourselves at the top of the pass. We were both feeling great.

The snow bowl

A couple minor traverses.


After a bit of dry trail coming downhill and then back up, we started to encounter a bit of snow. At first it was just a couple large patches and the it turned into probably a mile or so of 80% snow coverage, including some traverses (although again nothing with a particularly dangerous fallout). I actually donned my microspikes again for a bit — mainly because I felt that since I’ve been carrying them all this time I might as well get some benefit from them!


After a while I realized that the snow patch could probably be easily walked around instead of trying to navigate through the tree wells in the snow. I waited for Michael and then we circled around and below the last bits of snow.  

A short patch of snow.


After finishing up in the snow, we found ourselves running into a bunch of section hikers that were taking an on-trail zero and doing shorter day hikes. It looked like fun, especially for the super energetic dog that a couple of the women had with them.

Lunchtime was at Paradise Lake and it was a great swim spot! We were warned not to wear our sandals into the water because they’d be sucked off our feet by the shin-high muck, but it was an otherwise refreshing swim. I honestly felt like a brand new reinvigorated person as we hiked off after lunch!

Paradise Lake


As we stopped to grab some more water after leaving the lake Michael started to freak out. Something under his shirt was biting him! He pulled off his shirt and, sure enough, I found a bee’s stinger in his shoulder. Luckily he isn’t allergic, so we decided to keep an eye on the spot before pulling out the benedryl (we didn’t want him to get drowsy). Poor guy!


This afternoon was sort of a boring one. We had a bit of a climb, near the end of which we discovered that the water source that we were relying on was just a trickle. We patiently gathered water since it would be the last source for miles. 

After a little more climbing we were in for a long descent with views largely obscured by tree cover. The trees were nice because they helped keep us cool, but otherwise they started to get monotonous. It probably didn’t help that with the bad wifi in Etna I wasn’t able to update my podcasts, so I’m stuck listening to a boring audio book I didn’t realize I had. I’m not a fan of extended downhills, so I need something to keep me happy but I’m not sure this did the trick.

Our first (not ripe) berry sighting on the trail!


One thing that made me curious though was a couple young women that I passed that were carrying a small cage with mice. It took me a moment to process what was going on, so I didn’t ask about the mice, but I later learned that they were doing an owl survey and the mice were their bait!


We’re camping tonight at the end of a dirt road near a creek. Only Joe Dirt was here when we arrived, but we were soon joined by many others. The bugs were bad enough to force us into our wool base layers and head nets, but we still managed to eat with the group outside our tents. I love seeing what other people are eating for dinner!

Everyone is excited to get into Seiad Valley tomorrow before the Cafe closes at 2pm. It’s about 14 miles away, mostly downhill and a road walk, so we should make it. Can’t wait for a nice cold drink even though we were just in Etna!

Current ailments:

Elizabeth: sore right foot.

Michael: sore feet.

2 thoughts on “Day 86: Snow Bowl Danger or Hype?

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