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PCT Day 161 – Surprise Snowfall in the Sierras

Last updated Feb 17, 2020 | Published on Oct 2, 2017

I slept fitfully last night and awoke to the sound of rain on my tent. I tossed and turned and could hear the rain falling each time I awoke. It got quieter as dawn approached and I assumed that the rain had stopped – but I later realized that the rain had turned to snow! When I emerged from my tent, about 1-2 inches of snow covered my tent and the ground.

Surprise! It Snowed Last Night!

Snow continued to fall as I packed up my tent. I’m not very experienced with snow and the snow freaked me out a little, so I sang Christmas songs to occupy the time. Christmas songs never fail to cheer me up. I took great pains to carefully stow my sleeping bag and extra clothes in a waterproof bag in the bottom of my backpack. I have a down bag and I’d be in big trouble if that got wet.

Snow Laden Boughs Blocking the Trail

Bridge over Mono Creek

The snowstorm continued as I hiked the rest of the way downhill towards the junction for Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR). Boughs laden with snow blocked the trail and I had to push my way through. At the bottom of the hill I crossed the bridge over Mono Creek and took the trail junction for the Edison Ferry. The snowfall was lighter as I descended in elevation. Pools of water and mud covered the path and soon my feet were soaked and muddy.

Trail Junction to Edison Lake Ferry

The ferry dock and tiny ferry boat

When I made it to the Edison Lake Ferry dock at 9:00 am, the snow finally slowed to a stop. According to a wooden sign, a boat was scheduled to arrive at 9:45 am to ferry passengers over to VVR on the other side of Edison Lake. So I settled down on some rocks by the dock to wait, enjoying the day’s first rays of sunlight. A dusting of snow blanketed the hills surrounding the lake, creating a picturesque scene. I hoped the ferry would still be running despite the weather.

The hills look pretty with snow on them

About 20 minutes later a tiny metal boat arrived. Apparently the main ferry boat was out of service and so this smaller boat was being used as a backup. Bedraggled hikers began trickling out of the woods and soon 6 hikers and their backpacks were crammed into the boat along with the captain.  The ride took about 20 minutes and provided gorgeous views of the snow-covered hills. And it was COLD! I felt like a popsicle when we arrived on the other side of the lake.

I’m on a boat!

VVR is comprised of a small collection of cottages, rooms, and canvas “tent cabins” that can be rented by hikers and fishermen. A small convenience store, restaurant, and free tent camping area is also available. I spread out my sodden tent to dry and inquired about a room for the night. All the nicer rooms were booked up but I was able to secure a bed in the hiker dorm – a canvas-walled tent with no heat and 7 beds. It wasn’t ideal but seemed better than sleeping in my tent.

I spent the rest of the day doing laundry, showering, sorting through my resupply box – but most of all eating. I gorged on an enormous breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Berry pie, steak, cheeseburger, french fries, hot chocolate, pancakes, bacon… I’m not always going to be able to eat like this so I’m taking advantage of it while I can.

Hiker Dorm Tent – Outside View

As the afternoon progressed, the clouds darkened and snow flurries began again. Hikers scrambled to retrieve tents and sleeping bags that were drying outdoors. Folks huddled around a campfire to stay warm, drinking beers and talking about the unexpected snow. The internet was down so it was hard to confirm information about the upcoming weather forecast. Several groups of hikers decided to end their hikes early and made arrangements to take a shuttle to Fresno the following morning. I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I end my hike here? Should I hike out?

Hiker Dorm Tent – Inside View

I decided to wait until tomorrow to make a decision.

I crawled into my bed in the bunkhouse, using the flashlight on my phone to light my way so I didn’t wake anyone else up. I pulled my down hat over my eyes and put in my earplugs. It was cold since the room was not heated, but I soon warmed up inside my sleeping quilt and began to drift off to sleep.

I was suddenly awakened by someone touching me. One of my bunkmates was feeling around on top of my sleeping bag. I was pretty out of it but wondered if maybe if there was an emergency and someone was trying to wake me?

I removed my hat and earplugs and said “What?” sleepily.

“Oh no, I have the wrong bunk,” he said. I recognized my neighbor from the neighboring bunk and it was pitch dark. “I’m so sorry.” And he moved over to his bunk.

He was a really nice guy and I was 95% sure that it was an innocent mistake. But part of me couldn’t help but wondering if he was taking advantage of the situation to feel up the girl in the next bunk. I was glad there were 5 other people in the room.

I pulled my hat over my eyes and put in my earplugs again and soon was fast asleep.

PCT 2017 Stats

PCT Day 161 – Thursday, September 21
Mile 877.9 to Vermilion Valley Resort Mile 878.7

PCT Miles Hiked Today: .8
Non-PCT Miles Hiked Today: 1.4 Miles
Total PCT Miles Hiked: 1749
Feet Ascended Today: 81
Feet Descended Today: 675
Current Elevation: 7692
Steps: 14022

For more on my experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, visit my Pacific Crest Trail Blog page.

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Hi, I'm Unicorn!

I am an avid hiker, traveler, and adventurer who is on the mission to explore hiking trails around the world.  I’m also obsessed with National Parks, long-distance trails and other outdoorsy things.

I hope to share this knowledge with you and inspire you to explore new hiking trails too!


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