I’m getting ready to go on a hike of my own, but I wanted to drop you a note to let you know it’s still snowing in the High Sierra. My 2017 blog post “Dear PCT Class of 2017” with tips about snow travel and whatnot definitely, definitely applies, since we got more snow (* see footnotes) this year than we did overwinter 2016/2017. I spent the winter shoveling, plowing, skiing, and snowshoeing in the Sierra, and I’ll tell you what: nobody who knows anything about avalanches or snow conditions (in brief, they suck) is going back there behind the Crest right now. I hope you read my 2017 letter and do all the other research and preparation you can, and don’t rush a thing. There are a lot of us who are very concerned for your safety. Remember that Leave No Trace (LNT) ethic isn’t… continue reading
The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,668 mile (4,294 km) trail running through the tallest mountain crests and volcanic peaks of California, Oregon, and Washington from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. I walked its entire length in 2013 and was back on trail for more casual fun in 2014 and 2015. In my opinion, it is a 16″ by 2,668 mile slice of heaven.
In my last feverish post, I totally missed some really good points about hiking in snow – really crucial stuff like navigation. A 2011 nobo thru-hiker made me aware right away (but doesn’t necessarily want to be credited).
So without further ado here are more tips from someone who has gone through the difficult and uncomfortable, but very survivable process of trudging through the High Sierra in a high snow year:
“GPS/phone = major time saver. THERE IS NO TRAIL. Forget the trail being avalanched away. It’s just not there” (until many people walk it first). Learn how to read a map and navigate by it (that is an invaluable link to a precious map-reading resource, BTW). “Carry a paper map back up, because you know, if your GPS takes a dive in a stream crossing… Navigating in trees as you get further north… continue reading
2017 snow pack is the biggest whomper we have seen in 20 years. Forget about 2005 and 2011, we are entering new territory with just about as much (well, more) snow but more heat from our warming planet. Snow is not only STILL falling in the Sierra, but has begun to melt, with significantly high and early – dangerous – runoff.
I’ve been shopping for new gear for 2016 and something is bugging me…
So here’s my call out to manufacturers and users of tents and sleeping bags and camp stoves and other camping gear. All outdoor folk who love nature. (Hopefully that includes you.)
Stop advertising gear with images that clearly violate the Leave No Trace ethic.
Stop glamorizing these violations.
Instead, set great examples of people camping using LNT principles.
Dude. What are you talking about?!
More specifically, I’m talking about images of camps set up right on the sides of lakes. They’re so pretty, but they’re so… wrong.
Please stop posting photographs of tents pitched less than 200 feet from idyllic lakes. Less than 100 feet from lakes. Less than 50 feet from lakes!
What’s the problem with camping near water?
I’d like to camp right by the water. It doesn’t seem… continue reading
In the middle of October, after having finished an amazing L2H hike with two great guys (Bulldozer and Abram), I was looking at wrapping up my season and heading back to Portland to spend the holidays with my mother.
But it was driving me crazy that I hadn’t finished my Sierra High Route hike. I walked around Mt. Williamson, summiting two 14ers to compensate, and I made some excuses, but still it was driving me crazy when I wasn’t trying to put it out of my mind. I’m not sure I’d ever feel right if I didn’t complete the SHR in one season as I intended.
LoveNote showed up in Lone Pine and planted the seed again, a few days later. When I told her my excuses, she (and her dog) gave me this look:
And that did it. Next thing I knew I… continue reading
This 23-mile stretch of the Sierra High Route took me almost three days. I left Tuolumne Meadows Saturday June 13th at 7am and came out at Twin Lakes on Monday the 15th at 4:30pm. Granted, I’m usually able to hike 23 miles in one day, that’s when there’s a trail and I don’t have three unusually steep mountain passes to get over. Over three days I had my ass handed to me by this route and once finished, tentatively decided to not continue hiking it.
Day 1: Tuolumne Meadows to Cascade Lake
June 13th. I was originally set to leave on June 5, and was posted up in Tuolumne acclimating to the elevation, but rain came in and wasn’t letting up so I postponed. I’m actually glad it worked out this way, because I not only avoided rain but snow, too. I spent a week waiting it out in Mariposa… continue reading
This is a post about trail angeling and trail magic on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and why perhaps it has become detrimental to the trail and trail culture.
Between 2013 and 2015, whether because of the “Wild” movie effect or due to an influx of Appalachian Trail (AT) hikers wanting more trail time or even triple crowns, the population of thru-hikers on the PCT doubled. The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA), a governing body of sorts in charge of maintaining access to the trail, again issued permits arbitrarily and for free — several thousand of them.
Between April 6 and May 1 this year, I camped out at mile 42 of the trail, doing backpack shake-outs at Mt. Laguna Sports and washing dishes at the Pine House Café. Between May 1 and May 15, I worked with trail angels Ziggy and the Bear in their home at mile 210…. continue reading
I just got into Portland, Oregon after hitching from Lone Pine, California to Cascade Locks for the 9th annual PCT Days. Most of the ride was much less eventful than anticipated, and took me much less time than I budgeted for. It took 16 hours in 6 strangers’ cars, with an overnight in Bend at a friend’s house.
And then I was there at Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks having a great time with fellow hikers.
More on the wacky part of the hitch hike soon.
Everyone who goes out in the woods should know the seven Leave No Trace principles (LNT). In fact, if you’re caught by a ranger, especially in the National Parks, you might get asked to recite them to avoid getting a fine. This impromptu quiz happened to me, and stumbling through the answers got me out of a lot of trouble. Even if you don’t get stopped and grilled, these principles will keep you out of all sorts of other trouble.
Here they are. Study. Heck, write them inside your pack with a Sharpie. You can thank me later.
Plan Ahead and Prepare Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces Dispose of Waste Properly Leave What You Find Minimize Campfire Impacts Respect Wildlife Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Ultra lightweight sleeping bags are purpose-built for long-haul treks where space is at a premium and weight is counted in grams, but they can also be used on your ordinary family camping trips. I call that win-win!
The sleeping bag is part of “The Big Three:” your backpack, your tent, and your sleeping bag. These three items comprise the most weight, and take up the most space of all your gear. Also, they are items (aside from food and shoes) that can make–or break–your hike or tour. Be prepared to shell out good money up front (and not have to re-purchase something better later). This is an investment you’ll be putting to very good use. A sleeping bag is a camper’s best friend.
Considerations Bag girth and length. You want enough room to be able to roll over in your bag but not so much that you are… continue reading