PCT Mile: 879
So much has happened over the past 2 weeks that it would take hours to describe in detail. I’m taking a zero at VVR and there is much to do. So, I’ve decided to provide you with some interesting stats, show you some incredible pictures, and tell just a couple of stories.
At mile 702, Kennedy Meadows, many hikers dropped out due to the justified, and not so justified, hype of heavy snowfall and dangerous river crossings in the Sierras. Some of us wanted to get a feel for what was coming so we continued into the southern Sierras climbing Forrester Pass and exiting via Kearsarge Pass. While staying in Bishop, we talked to over 50 hikers and only found 2 others continuing northbound. Most were headed to points north of the Sierras or dropping out altogether. One of the workers here at VVR said that they normally receive over 5,000 hiker resupply boxes per season. This year…300. That’s down 94%!!!
Forrester and Kearsarge were not easy. In fact, after the extreme hiking conditions and me falling in the creek in 30 degree temperatures, we were extremely nervous about moving on.
We took a week off to recharge and headed up to Tahoe. We practiced fording in Taylor Creek and spent over 2 hours trying various techniques in the rapids. It was a blast and we gained a great deal of confidence.
On June 22nd, we headed up to Kearsarge Pass and back into the wilderness. Immediately, we could see the runoff on our drive up Onion Valley. The road was washed out and the pavement was starting to cave due to high volume of water. Oh well. We were committed.
Our first 2 days were the toughest on the PCT so far. We were nervous, our packs heavy, and the climbs almost unbearable. Our morale was low and several times I asked myself, “Why am I doing this?” I knew this day would come. Each morning, at 5am, I would wake up hating what was ahead of me. There is no trail. We had countless stream crossings and the climbs are steep with snow everywhere. I had to change my attitude or this was not going to end well. So, every morning I started my day by kissing my St. Christopher pendant around my neck. “Let’s make this a good day! Protect me and keep me safe”, I say to myself. I know. Spiritual! What’s up with that?
On that note, I want to publicly thank my guardian angel for watching out for me. I have fallen twice in the cold streams and this next one is really good. We had just summited Pinchot Pass. The back side was very steep and I was picking my way through a steep boulder field. My kids were far ahead of me so I was alone. Now these boulders were not round. They were huge sharp rocks that had fallen from the cliffs above. I miscalculated a step and fell hard smacking my head against a rock. I looked around. It was one of very few that was not jagged. I could be telling a very different story but that rock just knocked some sense into me. Thanks for protecting me! Keep going.
My confidence and strength has grown stronger with every passing day. I just keep getting better and better at dealing with extreme conditions to the point where it is almost routine. Now I said, almost routine!
Here are some stats for you…
We have summited 6 passes in 7 days. We estimated 8 days!
- We averaged 15 miles per day! A couple of days over 20. Now that is amazing. People say to estimate 10 miles on average in these conditions.
- My boots have not been dry for a week.
- I have ascended/descended over 43,000 feet in 7 days.
- Lemonade at the top of two passes. Sniff! Sniff!
- Over 30ish stream crossings
- I now wear medium shirts. I’m washing the only clothes that I have and the hiker box had a medium shirt. It fits perfectly.
- I plan to be Santa this year but need to gain some weight.
- Hiking the Sierras is life changing and good for the soul!
- I love my family beyond words.