Day 16 mile 238.7 – 248.2
Elevation: ascent 2,344 ft, descent 972 ft
We had set the alarm for 5:50 this morning, but once again it must have been turned off by my jacket that I was wearing to try and stay warm. We were awake and getting ready for the day at 6:10 after waking to the light of sunrise. It was cold last night, but we are finding out that once the snow we are sleeping now starts to freeze it is actually becomes warmer to sleep, not sure why. Which makes the first couple of hours of sleep pretty cold. Then trying to put on shoes that are blocks of ice requires some effort to squeeze your feet into. We had decided to get up early so hopefully we could make good miles before the snow got too soft.
We were off hiking by 7:05, but immediately found ourselves hitting a dead end. Turns out where we set up our tent was directly on the trail and we had to cross the river that was right behind the tent. Having our micro spikes on and the frozen snow made for easier travel. It definitely didn’t get cold enough to freeze the snow to allow travel off trail without post holing so we kept to the trail all day. The funny thing is that out here in the snow there is no definitive trail that you can see, only foot prints that most of us make the assumption are going in the right direction. It’s not uncommon to follow foot prints only to find they are going the wrong way or take a path that isn’t the easiest to follow. Amy and I got the first mile and a half in by 8:10. That is when the rest of the day got really tough. The trail was supposed to cross a road but there were sets of foot prints going in different directions. One took the road which went away from the trail and the other was the actual PCT. We decided taking the trail was the right call. WRONG!! We found our selves barely covering 3 miles in the next three hours and we found the snow to be barely tracked out and mid thigh to crotch deep at times. Not only was this slow but it was exhausting!! The tracks that went on the road actually connected back to the PCT and from what we heard later was much easier to hike on. Ugh!!
If you haven’t hiked in the snow much there are some things you find out quickly. First the early morning when things are cold it is much easier to walk on especially if you have spikes. As the sun rises and temps warm up the snow starts melting and creates a very uneven and slippery surface where you find yourself relying on your poles to catch you. Then after lunch things get really soft and wet. When the snow is deep you find yourself post holing a lot more, even on spots you know someone just took a step on. Or you step down into a post hole thinking it can’t go any deeper only to find out you were severely wrong in that assumption. The last thing that you start to get is a lot of snow melt. Since water tries to take the easiest path down hill, the trail, you find yourself plunging your foot into a pool of cold water hiding below the snow. Amy and I had the pleasure of experiencing all of this today.
With all of that going on we spent about 10 hours of hiking and only were able to go 9.5 miles. This was far short of the 15 we had hoped to do. It is amazing to see these mountains covered in snow but is hard to take in a lot of the time since you find yourself staring at your feet hoping to put them in the right spot that won’t cause a fall.
We are once again camped in the snow with the same group as last night plus two new hikers we just met, “Mom” and “Radish”. We probably have another 8 miles before we get out of the snow tomorrow and are setting the alarm early to see if that will help us. Hope you all are staying safe and again thanks for following along. “Link” (Brian)