Jun 12 – Day 50 “The morning after…”

Miles 13
PCT mile: 786

It was about 5 AM when I heard the voices of my Trail Kids. It was time to get up. The temperature was in the low 20s and I was not looking forward to breaking camp. Pete came over and said that he had started a fire. What a great guy! Three deep breaths and I started to move. Emerging from my tent, I tried to slip my feet into frozen boots. Not gonna happen. I pulled out the frozen insoles. That worked. I hobbled over to the fire and held them to the heat. 


There was a light dusting of snow from last night but thankfully the skies were clear. I can’t wait to see the sun! I made some hot oat meal and stood close to the small fire. As I ate, I thought about what was ahead of us….a 2,200 foot climb up to Forrester Pass and a very steep decent down the other side. Gotta move. 

I break camp as aggressively as I could hoping to warm my body. That helped but my toes were screaming from the cold. “Start hiking and they’ll warm up too.”, I told myself. We’re just about to leave when Mother Nature taps me on the shoulder. Really? Do you know how cold it is? Why do I have to squat in the trees right now? “Better now than on a sheer exposed icy slope.”, she replied. Jeez!

Okay. Now I’m ready. Let’s get outta here and warm up! The snow is firm making our first mile easy enough. As we approach Forrester, the Pass begins looming larger and larger. Holy crap. We’re climbing that? I wasn’t cold anymore. My brain instantly switched gears. 

We reach the bottom of the Pass and look up. No trail, just a steep wall of snow for about 500 feet. I can see the switchbacks above my head. I put on my crampons and start climbing. 


I played this little game with myself as the slope steepened…count each step up to 20, then rest. The higher I climbed the game ended. Don’t look down and set my crampon firmly…one step at a time!

I finally reach the rock ledge where the trail resumed. I was so thankful to be on solid, flat, ground! Don’t get too comfy Kev. You still have to cross the chute. The chute is an ice ledge that drops 100’s of feet below. There are deep footprints in the ice wall that you carefully follow. I plunge my ice axe into the wall next to my head and take the first step. There is absolutely nothing on my mind except planting my axe and making sure that my crampons are firmly set. My hands are sweaty just typing this! So I get to the end and look up. The trail is above my waste! The only way to reach it is bury my axe in the snow and pull myself up. Unbelievable!


At the top of the Pass, I was not at all elated. I survived and this was serious. I looked down at our decent. No trail, just steep snowy slopes. Going down is becoming easier with practice. I ski with my feet and glissade on my butt down open terrain. While sliding, I practice self arrest with my axe. It’s exhausting work and it’s amazing how time just doesn’t exist until you’ve reached safety. 

We finally descend low enough to see a small section of trail and it’s flat. In unison, we just take off our packs and setup camp. We all have one meal left and we still have to climb Kearsarge tomorrow in order to resupply and recharge. But that’s a story for tomorrow…

Kevbo out!

9 thoughts on “Jun 12 – Day 50 “The morning after…”

  1. Gary

    Kevbo tgis gets more amazing by the mile you are doing more in 2 months than most of us in a lifetime. Thank you for the honest sharing and the humor ! Keep going and stay strong!

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  2. Kirk

    Kevin, thank you for sharing. It’s a little nerve wracking just reading your blog entry. I don’t know where you find the energy or willpower to write after a couple of the days you have described. I’m glad your trail family are tight and sticking together. Strength and safety in numbers ( with the right people which certainly seems to be the case). Be safe.

    Kirk

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  3. eric kapan

    Hi Kev… regarding frozen shoes… do you have a stuff sack you could put them in at night and stuff them in the bottom of your sleeping back? I got an extra long sleeping bag for winter backpacking for this reason. Nice and warm…maybe still wet, but not frozen in the morning.

    Love your blog! Hopefully it’s my turn to do the PCT next year.

    eric

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  4. Leonard Ruggieri

    Ah grass hopper, you have become one with nature and learned well how to deal with new and challenging situations. Your spirit shines bright and though we are not there, we are with you.

    Dude, 800 incredible miles. Always look forward to your blogs. Keep it up Trail Dad!

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