• Pathfinder

PCT-Sierra


All winter long, the Sierra seemed to not get snow. I generally root for snow, but this year, I thought things were breaking my way because I could cruise through the Sierra which would help me reach my lofty goals. Then in March, it started snowing. It continued in April ... and May.

I left Kennedy Meadows after waiting out a thunderstorm, and then dodged thunderstorms all the way to Lone Pine. The only reason I went to Lone Pine was that I screwed up my Kennedy Meadows package and needed more food to make it to Mammoth Lakes. That cost me half a day.

After Lone Pine, I hiked through a snow storm on my way to camp watching people turn around because they couldn't make it over Forester Pass. While that worried me some, I continued on and made it over Forester Pass wishing I could have caught some of those who turned around sooner as I could have helped them make it over the pass, which would have made their lives easier than backtracking.

I also gambled trying to not carry a bear canister as I hate them and I thought I could bear box hop my way through the Sierra. I got caught and had to leave the Sierra again to go into Bishop. That meant hiking over Kearsarge Pass in another snowstorm. Fortunately, I had some luck and got to hike with other people during both snowstorms.

In Bishop, it seemed that everyone wanted to tell me about why I shouldn't go into the Sierra. That fear-mongering drove me nuts, so I tried to get back on trail as quickly as I could, but I lost at least a day by going into Bishop. Glenn Pass felt the same as it did to me in 2016, so I thought I would luck out with snow after all.

Pinchot Pass proved me wrong. I was on snow sooner than I expected and worse, the snow had a hard crust, but was soft underneath. That meant I broke through. On the way up Pinchot, I lost about half an hour trying to navigate by map and compass and on the way down, I lost another half an hour.


Sometimes a path was easy to follow. Other times, it wasn't.

Most people recommend that you hike one pass a day and set up for the next pass before calling it a day. I've always thought that if you have the time and energy for two passes, why not go for them. I took on Mather Pass as well that day. Since I lost time on Pinchot Pass, I had softer snow and more post-holing on Mather Pass. Also, on the way down, I lost another half an hour due to route-finding. All of that meant I wasn't set up very well to tackle Muir Pass, the pass with the most snow.


The snow kicked my butt, but it made things beautiful.

The snow held firm anyway on my way up Muir Pass, but I started to post-hole on my way down. Once again I lost half an hour for route-finding. The post-holing wore on and on and on. At one point, I realized that I needed to stay on top of the snow so that I wouldn't run out of food. So I prayed to God that he would allow me to stay on top of the snow. As soon as I finished praying, I fell into waist deep snow with me feet in a stream I couldn't see or even hear. At that moment, a common Christian saying rushed into my head that "God has a sense of humor." I immediately threw a child-like temper tantrum. My response to that thought was, "this isn't f****** funny."

At that moment, I quit the CYTC. I was going to keep hiking, but no longer would I try for the CYTC. Then I remembered, a friend of mine, Rat, was not too far behind me and would have to cross the Sierra in similar conditions. Thinking about her made me feel less sorry for myself and pretty soon the CYTC was back on.

I post-holed and continued to have route-finding issues to Mammoth Lakes. Also, I ran out of food by almost the exact amount of time I lost due to route-finding. Last, I showed up to Mammoth Lakes about a day too late to pick up my package at the post office so I lost another day waiting for the post office to open.

Snowshoes came to the trail with me as I was tired of post-holing, but I found out that I had past almost all the hiking where snowshoes would be helpful.

Yosemite provided me with a new set of challenges. Stream crossings to that point had been pretty easy, even the ones with the word dangerous included in their reputations. In Yosemite, I had my first stream actually dangerous stream crossings. One even took me off my feet and I had to swim to shore.


Yosemite provided me with beauty, and later tried to kill me.

I still chose to navigate by map and compass thinking that I was past the worst of the navigational issues. I was wrong. After following the wrong set of footprints near to the point where I was no longer on my maps, I lost a couple hours. Next, I couldn't find the trail getting to Squaw Valley Ski Resort and even ended up following bear tracks hoping the bear was following the PCT. That cost me another couple hours. Of course, I made it to Sierra City about an hour after the post office closed for the day and it cost me another half day waiting for it to open again.


Standing on snow looking at my maps was very common for me.

I entered the Sierra two days ahead of schedule and left two days behind schedule. My weight also dropped considerably. The rest of the CYTC changed because of what happened here.


At the 1000 mile mark, I weighed less than I had since I entered high school.

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