Saturday, 24 June 2017

Snow & Spate on the Pacific Crest Trail

Larry Lake crossing McCabe Creek

This year deep late snow has made the Pacific Crest Trail very hazardous from the High Sierra northwards with many hikers getting into difficulties - see this piece in Outside magazine. Stories from the trail remind me of my own PCT thru'-hike in similar conditions back in 1982.  That year the mountains were also snowbound late into the hiking season. I teamed up with three other hikers for the traverse of the High Sierra, during which we rarely saw the trail, and needed the ice axes, crampons and snowshoes/skis we were carrying every day. Going without these and the skill to use them would have been very foolish.

In the High Sierra

Some of the passes proved difficult and somewhat scary to cross, especially steep Forester Pass, the highest on the PCT. Fearful of avalanches we climbed to the passes early in the day when the snow was still hard, then tried to reach the base of the next pass before the snow became too soft even for snowshoes and skis.

High on the ascent of Forester Pass

Even more scary than the steep snow slopes were the creek fords in the Yosemite Wilderness as the snow began to melt. Over a five day period we crossed many raging torrents, sometimes crawling across spiky logs inches above the crashing water, sometimes wading and barely keeping our feet, sometimes using a rope.

Fording Tilden Creek

The traverse of the High Sierra remains one of the high points of my life. I hope those hikers there now have as an exciting and inspiring time and that they all make it through safely.

You can read more about my trip and see more pictures in my book Rattlesnakes and Bald Eagles: Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

No comments:

Post a comment