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[pct-l] What an adventure it was!

Hi All!

I was on this list before but never really posted much... but now that I
have been off the PCT for a month I am craving more trail news and wanted
to tell you a little about the hike I just did.

Anyway, I started hiking at Campo the evening of April 17th.  I hiked for
the next 2 months which got me to Toulumne meadows I believe on June 20th
(my memory is already shot).  I can definitely say that it was an
extremely profound experience and that I wish I had been able to keep
hiking.  But alas it was time for me to move to Colorado (Boulder) to get
started on my PhD research.  So now I am living vicariously through all
the wonderful people I met on the trail this year.  Some of the listers I
hiked with for condsiderable amounts of time include Jim, Ginny, and
Kathy.  I met many others, some of whose names I recognized from the list,
like Silver , Mother Bird, and Berkeley Bill.

Highlights of my trip are too numerous to mention, but the Sierras
definitely stand out.  Being a solo hiker I was concerned about facing the
high passes and river fords, but the PCT community was wonderful and I was
able to hike with others all through there.  I left Kennedy MEadows June
3rd, which I guess would be considered a little on the early side.  I
heard it was a very low snow year, so I wasn't expecting very much snow
at all. But in fact what we found was lots of snow and a few scary river
fords.  Although granted the pass I ran into the most trouble with was
really our fault...  we made an error in navigation and chose a route that
took us across a very steep slope.  To make a long story short, I have
never been so happy to have an ice axe.  I took a fall that required me to
self arrest before hitting some exposed rocks on the slope.  Although
after I self arrested and carefully worked my way back up I never looked
down, I am told by the people I was with that I cam within 5 feet of
hitting rocks that could have seriously injured me.  I will never doubt
the use of an ice axe again!  As far as my other major concern, river
fordings, our timing worked out very well.  We hit the two most difficult
fordings first thing in the morning (Evolution Creek and Bear Creek).  The
latter we spent considerable time bushwacking to find a place we could
cross.  Talking with others who hit these mid afternoon, the flow was at
least a foot or two lower when we crossed.

I also want to put a few good words in for the 700 some odd miles of
southern California.  The desert sections broken up by the mountains (San
Jacinto, Baden-Powell, ect) created such diversty!  Where else can you
walk through scorching desert hiding under a bush during the heat of the
day and just a day later be walking through snow and losing the trail
under the snow?  I found that I could hike further in a day than I was
expecting possible to make it to the next water source.  I found that all
the "waterless stretches" were really quite managable, planning to hit the
next water each day around noon.  There were frequently springs off the
trail druing the sections that looked dry at first glance.  I also
happened upon some stashes of water from some incredibly generous
people.  I don't know how to thank those who spend their own time and
money to do this.  Each one was totally unexpected, but very
appreciated.  The one that stands out the most was a large stash
placed by I believe the Sierra Club in the middle of the San Filepe
hills.  I had accidentally punctured my playtpus after leaving Sissors 
Crossing and lost 2 liters of water.  I would have been very
dehydrated and unhappy if it weren't for the help of the volunteers.  When
I was hiking the AT I don't think I would have ever considered walking 1.8
miles off the trail for water, but somehow on the PCT it seemed a much
more practical option than carrying 35 miles worth of water.

I know that I am dragging on, but it was such an incredible experience and
I am mostly at a loss for other people to talk to about it.  I am sending
out a bunch of care packages tomorrow, hoping to catch some of the people
that I met who are now getting into Oregon.

Looking at the digests this week seems like things are pretty quiet... I
hope everyone is out hiking!

Take care and keep the trail talk coming!  I can't wait to hear from all
the thru-hikers after they return!


P.S.  Anybody want to go hiking in Colorado sometime?

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