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More PCT high snow tips

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

View of High Sierra March 28

Dear PCT class of 2017

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.

A Walk from Onion Valley to Road’s End

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

The Wall of Snow

We started hearing horror stories about the snow on the trail while in Stehekin 9/28-9/29, but by the time we got to Mazama and Winthrop 9/30, the stories had whipped into a terrible tale of impassable “walls of snow,” irreconcilable avalanche and hypothermia dangers, etc. etc. There’s a great blog post that talks about the chaos on the PCT during this time and about the ill-fated group that headed north one day ahead of us (October 2).

I decided to ignore the stories and see for myself. By then I’d learned that fear-mongering was really shit-thick on the trail, and that it did me no good.

I formed a team of four for safety (including a South African who had never seen snow before), and waited for the weather reports to look just so, and went for it…

Our preparations

An extra day or two of food,… continue reading

I Love Snow

Now that I have my gear squared away, I’ve started worrying more about food and resupply. I think I have that pretty figured out, but I’ve learned that you can’t outwit the gathered wisdom of PCT alumni. I fear that were I to share with them what I think I will be eating, they would issue a collective hearty laugh. So I’m going to think about it some more before I say it out loud, but for the moment I think it’s pretty fool-hardy (lightweight, nutritious, high-calorie, and soy-free) and do-able.

After watching the wonderful 2011 hike videos by K-Cop and Iguana, I’ve been thinking about snow. Here is their Northern California epic:

http://youtu.be/wICzGzU9prA?t=1m27sVideo can’t be loaded: Pacific Crest Trail… continue reading

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