In my last entry, we were still in the desert in May. Since it’s now mid July, I have a lot of catching up to do which I’ll do below as succinctly as possible. I’m happy to give more details later but here’s a brief summary:
– We took a 2 week break mid May to wait for the snow melt in the Sierra Nevada after being caught in a hail storm at Walker Pass on May 16;
– On June 3, we reached Kennedy Meadows, which generally marks the end of the desert section end of the PCT & beginning of the Sierras;
– On June 11, we climbed over Forester pass at 7am, the highest point of the PCT at 13,200 feet / 4,009 meters
– On June 21, we exited the Sierras at Bishop pass;
– We “flipped up” to Chester in northern California on June 27 (“flip up” meaning to skip a section of the trail with an intention to return & hike the missed miles later)
– Hike into Oregon on July 15 after hiking over 1,100 miles of California.
Our initial plan had been to hike through the whole Sierras & not flip up. However since it was an unusually high snow year (with snow storms still happening mid May) there was more snow than usual in the Sierras. This understandably made the hiking slow going but exhausting. It wasn’t the icy rock covered mountain passes or snow covered valleys which we found difficult, but it was the river crossings. At two particularly harrowing crossings we saw fellow hikers lose their footing, fall into the rushing water and almost be swept away by the strong current. River crossings were frequent since even seasonal streams were swollen from the snow melt and often the trail was another stream to wade through. Even when we were out of the frigid water, hypothermia was a danger as we started hiking at 4am before the sun was out to warm us up. In the end, we decided that the risks the snow posed in all its different forms wasn’t worth it. So we flipped.
We felt a bit disappointed in having to flip. However, that disappointment was quickly dispelled when we experienced an unprecedented (for us) 5 days straight of trail magic! We’ve also seen a lot of wildlife in this stretch, from majestic bears to pesky deer. Now we’re in Oregon trying to hike to Washington as quickly as possible so we can head back to the Sierras when the snow is gone!