At Kennedy Meadows, mile 702, I joined a hiking team. They are so solid, they even provided this plan for me. I did it a little differently up until mile 745, but will hike off to Chicken Springs in the Sierra, towards Mount Whitney tomorrow, with them.
Sierra dos: have a hiking team, know how to self arrest and ford rivers with team, have an exit strategy.
With record snow levels this year, the snow has been the talk since before day 1 on the pct. There have been webinars back in February led by experts on the Sierra as to different strategies for dealing with the snow and river crossings. As with 2011, another record snow year, once the pct herd of hikers hit the Sierra it began dispersing. I would guess at least 1/2 have flipped north to Ashland, or Belden, and will head south until they get to mile 700 and then flip back to Ashland or Belden and continue north through Oregon and Washington. Another 1/4 have departed the trail completely.
Today, in Lone Pine, I met Mr. Z in the small grocery store. I saw him, weathered, walking down an isle. I greeted him with “if you see the tortillas, peanut butter, and Nutella, let me know.” We then did the usual Pct banter ” What’s your name again? How are you doing? What’s your plan?”
Mr. Z told me he was headed home. Had back surgery in February and his back was fine after surgery but now he feels stiff all over. We then talked about back surgeries, nerve pain, and oh “here are the tortillas, in the dairy section!”
I then bumped into Bob. He never was planning a full thru, but he is pulling out of the race earlier than he intended, too. Too much snow. Next year he’ll try the Sierra section.
It’s hard to hear that people are leaving the trail or flipping, and it makes me even more tenacious to stick to my plan.
So, tomorrow, with my microspikes, ice axe, bear canister, and poly cord, I ascend from Lone Pine to the trail, from desert to High Sierra again, committed like gorilla glue to my north bound trajectory. I like the clean line of south to north. Otherwise, it gets all messy.