Progress Update

As you may have noticed, we’ve fallen behind on getting blog entries posted. This delay has been due to a combination of factors, including the lack of decent internet connections in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. We’re working on getting the rest of the entries up, but it might take awhile.

We wanted to let you in on some good news though: WE MADE IT TO CANADA!!!  

We arrived at the monument on September 3, 2017. For the most part, we beat out the fires in Oregon and Washington that are now blocking large sections of the trail. Our understanding is that Oregon is basically unhikeable right now and fire closures are affecting more and more of the trail in Washington. Our decision to skip the High Sierra now appears to have afforded us the opportunity to hike Oregon and Washington almost uninterrupted. A lucky break.

So, what’s next? We still have 407 miles of trail to hike in the Sierra. After reaching Canada, we hightailed it back to Independence to jump back on trail at Kearsarge Pass — the same spot we exited in early June. Our plan is to continue north until we reach Sierra City — our final piece of this year’s PCT puzzle. With the end in sight, we’re psyched to be heading back into the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains. Our fingers are crossed that we won’t run into any further obstacles in the next few weeks. Wish us luck!

We expect that our internet access will be very limited in the next couple of weeks. We’ll try to get posts up when we can, but no guarantees. I’m still blogging and taking notes as I go though, and I can’t wait until our entire story is up for you to read. This has been a truly incredible experience.

Day 52: Out Kearsarge Pass

**We just realized that the following post about our exit from the High Sierra was still in our drafts folder and was never posted.  Here’s our blast from the past!  Better late than never, right?**

June 8, 2017

Total miles: 6.4 miles

Start: 0.8 miles down Bullfrog Lake trail (off PCT mile 788.5)

End: Onion Valley Trailhead (off PCT mile 788.5)

Total elevation gain/loss: 1178.1/2612.2 ft

It’s town day! There’s always something a bit different when you’re heading into town. It hit me this morning even though I’m not actually that excited about going into town today. I think it’s the knowledge that you’ll be able to eat to your full later in the day now, so you can run closer to empty as you push toward town.

I dropped the tent and insisted that Michael turn around when I saw this sunrise. He thought I’d seen a bear.

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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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Day 47: Where Is The Snow?

June 3, 2017

Total miles: 16.1 miles

Start: Death Canyon Creek (mile 730.8)

End: mile 747.0

Total elevation gain/loss: 3389.1/1619.1 ft

I was woken last night at 3:45am to the sound of the group nearby cheering. I guess they were ready to hike. I rolled over and in no time my own 4:30am alarm was going off. Time to get up.

More snow topped mountains in the distance

I loved the roots on this overturned tree!

We started the day with a big, waterless climb. The rock formations in this area are intriguing and foreign looking. At every turn there was a new outcropping, making the climb enjoyable. There was surprisingly no snow on the way up, but I guess that’s why it was waterless. I overpacked water and barely touched my bottles until I was near the top. Near the top of the climb, we had a few of the normally dry, but currently wet, Owens Valley.

View of Owens Valley. There was a large snow patch at the top of the climb, but not on trail.

We’d heard that the snow started at the top of the climb (mile 735). There were a few patches, but nothing major. We did our best to take advantage of snow-free trail to make up yesterday’s miles during the descent.

A small patch of snow.

Another cool shell of a tree.

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Day 46: Where Is Everyone?

June 2, 2017

Total miles: 20.3 miles

Start: mile 710.5

End: Death Canyon Creek (mile 730.8)

Total elevation gain/loss: 4165/2553.5 ft

We were woken last night by the wind, which came as a surprise because it was calm last night. We’d staked our tent in a fairly sandy area and Michael realized that one of the stakes had come out during the night (which he was able to fix without getting out of bed). It wasn’t until our alarm went off that I realized that the stake near me had also come out. No wonder our tent had become so loud in the wind. It was flapping around and we’re lucky it hadn’t simply collapsed on us!

More burn zone

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