Daily Miles: 15
Total Miles: 784
Another really hard day on the trail today. Last night when planning when to leave in the morning, we were pretty optimistic about our hiking pace, so we decided to sleep in a bit and head out at 7:30. It was nice to wake up around 6:00am and just have a leisurely time of packing up.
We had a steady uphill climb in the morning and quickly came upon two swollen streams that we needed to ford. We took off our shoes and socks and walked through the icy water. The water came up to Beardoh’s knees and halfway up SweetPea’s thighs. The water was so cold our feet were in pain by the time we got across the stream. Each ford took time, as we took off and then put back on our shoes and socks.
We continued our climb up towards Forrester Pass which is the highest point on the PCT. We came into snow as we went up in elevation. The snow was soft and we post holed a few times. The walking was slow with the snow, the high elevation and just some low energy.
We stopped for lunch just before the final push up the pass. We could watch two other hikers as they went up the switchbacks towards the top of the pass. It seemed like they went up quickly, so we were hopeful that it wouldn’t take us too long.
The beginning was the most challenging, because the lower switchbacks were covered in snow, so the trail that people were following was basically straight up for a bit. The snow was really soft and we kept slipping. Once we made it to the actual trail and followed the switchbacks, it was actually quite ok. Near the top, there was a snow shelf that you had to walk across. It was quite stable, but still nerve wracking, because one bad step and you could slide down the mountain. We put on our micro-spikes for that short stretch just to give us some extra traction. We all made it over fine and were shortly on top of the pass, celebrating at close to 3:00pm. What we thought would take us just four and a half hours to reach, took us seven and a half!
The descent down the other side of the pass was equally slow. The true trail consists of many gradual switchbacks, but the trail was totally snow covered, so people had just created a route that followed the contour of the mountain. We were glad to have our micro-spikes again as we went across the slippery snow field.
Eventually we made it to the real trail and followed that as the snow started to get more patchy. SweetPea even got to experience her first time glissading down a steep section of the descent. It was pretty fun to slide down on our foam pads.
As the snow lessened on the trail, it seemed like the trail became a little stream. All the snow melt runs down the trail, making for some wet hiking.
Near the end of our day, we forded our fourth swollen stream of the day. We were all tired of getting our feet frozen and wet, but we figured it was better to do it this afternoon instead of first thing tomorrow morning.
We ended up hiking four miles less than we had planned today. The hiking and navigating was much more difficult and slow than we had anticipated. We may need to re-evaluate our schedule for the next stretch of trail through the Sierra and decide if we need to plan for shorter miles than we had originally expected. The snow certainly slows things down.
Tomorrow we are heading into the town of Independence. We will have to take a 7 mile side trail tomorrow to get to a trailhead where hopefully we can hitch into town. We are looking forward to a warm room to sleep in and some town food. We are realizing that our appetites are increasing, and so we are ready to eat a lot of food in town.
For now, we are all pretty exhausted after hiking Forrester Pass. But, the views today were breathtaking and it is nice to be back in the high Sierras.