Saturday 14 May 2022

Forty Years ago on the Pacific Crest Trail: Approaching the High Sierra


A few days ago I posted the above picture as it was taken on the Pacific Crest Trail forty years ago on the same date. It shows two of my companions approaching the snowbound High Sierra, which you can just see in the far distance. Scott and Dave had picked up skis and internal frame packs they'd sent ahead for the High Sierra section. Up to this point they'd had external frame packs and snowshoes. My other companion Larry and I went through the High Sierra with snowshoes.

The post attracted some comments, including requests for more pictures and queries about the change of packs and why external frames anyway. Here are two more photos taken during the approach to the High Sierra. 

Scott at a camp by the South Fork of the Kern River. My tent, a Wintergear Eyrie, is on the right.


Myself fording the Kern River. Scott is on the far bank so either Dave or Larry took the photo with my camera.

With regard to external frame packs these were standard at the time for hiking in the USA and had been since they first appeared in the 1950s.Internal frame packs, introduced by Lowe Alpine in the late 1960s, were still regarded as for mountaineering and skiing rather than trail hiking. In the UK however internal frames were already becoming standard as so many of our hill paths are steep and rugged. I'd used an external frame pack on the Pennine Way in 1976 but switched to an internal one for Land's End to John O'Groats two years later, the advantage being better balance and stability on rough terrain.

Scott and Dave with their external frame packs on Mount Baden Powell earlier in the walk. I'm sitting on my internal frame pack.

My internal frame pack did break much later in the walk, due, I think, to descending a steep snow slope on its own, and the only replacement pack big enough I could find was an external frame one. I walked the last 1,000 miles of the trail with this and it was fine. I still have it and keep thinking I must take it out one day and see how it feels now.

My external frame pack much later in the walk.

After all these posts about long ago trips this month my next one will be about a trip I am about to make. This blog isn't just about ancient hiking history!


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