PCT Day 70 – Thursday June 22
Mile 1694.6 to Mile 1682.9
PCT Miles Hiked Today: 11.7
Total PCT Miles Hiked: 779.1
Feet Ascended Today: 1657 + 592
Feet Descended Today: 1013 + 1160
Current Elevation: 6717.5
I actually slept pretty well last night despite the slanty shanty. When I woke up, everything in my tent had slid downhill toward the door (including me) but I was cozy and warm. Stuffing my clothes bag and my food bag under the left side of my sleeping pad did manage to keep me from sliding too far.Monarch and I hit the trail first at 6:30 am. We crossed the creek and had to immediately don our microspikes to traverse the deep snow drifts. However the snow didn’t last too long and after a few hundred feet the snow cleared. There were much flatter and dryer camping spots if we had only walked another 10 minutes last night. Oh well.
Just before reaching a meadow, we heard some new noises in the woods. I stopped to listen, but couldn’t identify them. I needed to take a break and cathole, so Monarch hiked ahead. I kept hearing the strange noises while I took care of business. Later on, Woodstock and Hitch told us they saw a cougar and her cub in that area so now I’m wondering if it was a cougar that I heard. Very creepy to think I could’ve been hearing a cougar while I was doing my morning business.
The snow continued to be very challenging this morning. We didn’t encounter snow all the time, but we did tend to encounter it on the north-facing slopes over 6500 feet or so – and it usually was 2 to 4 feet deep. The snow-covered the trail and made following the path very difficult. Sometimes it was easy to follow previously made footsteps but more often than not we had to find our own way over the snow. We would have to pick our way around pine trees and blowdowns. Monarch fell in a treewell shortly after breaking camp this morning and snapped her hiking pole. Thankfully I have an extra one since I’m hiking with a whippet in one hand, so she’s using my extra pole now.
We came to a snow-free meadow around mid-morning and flopped on the side of the trail in exhaustion. It had taken us 2.5 hours to hike 2 miles. We made some breakfast and kept going – the trail headed north around a ridge and we had to deal with more deep snow for the next mile or so. The trail turned north and wound around a bowl near the top of a ridge and we slipped and slid as we tried to find the trail. My feet were tilted painfully sideways due to the angle of the snow and the microspikes squishes my toes.
Soon the trail turned south again and we finally got out of the snow. We filled our water bottles at a stream around noon and realized we had only hiked about 5 miles so far. By this time, the other girls had caught up to Monarch and me. We commiserated about the snow as we filtered water. Spider Mama and Tetris and taken a higher path as they traversed the last snowy section and Spider Mama had slipped given Tetris a scare. I was glad we had taken a lower path. Sometimes it’s best to not try to follow the trail exactly and to find a path that seems the easiest and safest that heads in the same general direction.
A few miles later we crossed the border from Oregon into California! If we were going northbound this would be a HUGE milestone. We would have travelled over half of the PCT. But as we have recently flipped north from Lone Pine it doesn’t feel as significant. We stopped at the border to eat lunch. I had already eaten lunch but skipped breakfast (I didn’t have enough water earlier to cook) so I made oatmeal for lunch.
After lunch the trail was mostly snow free for the rest of the day. It actually got a little warm as the afternoon progressed. The trail climbed a mountain with a 2000-foot elevation gain. I was really wiped out from traveling on snow earlier today and didn’t go that fast.
We decided to make camp in an alpine area with a lovely view of Mt Shasta. The trail encountered snow again a few hundred feet up the trail and we could see that the next few miles looked snowbound. No one wanted to deal with more snow today. Plus, it’s better to hike on snow first thing in the morning before it gets too melty.
We only managed to hike 11.7 miles today. It’s a frustratingly low number but typical when traveling on snow. I’m now glad I accidentally packed so much food for this leg of the trip – at the rate we’re going I may need some extra food.
We lined our tents up so that everyone’s front door faced the mountain. We ate dinner together and drank some cartons of wine that we brought along for Tetris’ birthday after sticking them in a snowbank to cool. A deer ran across the meadow as we ate our dinner – it didn’t seem afraid of us or in any particular hurry.
It was nice to get to camp early enough to have a little downtime before bed. But we’ll need the sleep. Looks like we have more snow in store for us tomorrow.